BUST: Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Needs to be Re-Stitched Street Fight

BUST: Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Needs to be Re-Stitched

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We recently covered the challenges of the MULO (multi-location) crafts industry and speculated on whether the giant stores that sell sewing, knitting, scrapbooking, and other creative supplies and classes would survive. The question is still unanswered, despite the fact that 81-year-old Ohio-based Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts (JOANN) just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

All of its 800+ stores will remain open while the company restructures. It will become a private company again, and a mere two years after it went public, JOANN will be delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Many consumers took up new hobbies during the pandemic, and the crafts industry benefited from the boom. However, the return to other activities and increased pressure from online sources of arts and crafts supplies caused an “unraveling” of big box crafts stores.

The details of the restructuring plan can be found in an official statement from the company.

As larger retailers struggle financially, they face creative alternatives like going online only or developing micro-stores and/or stores-within-stores.

Crafting is not necessarily waning in popularity. The focus on sustainability and personalization incentivizes consumers to pick up needles, thread, wool, and other do-it-yourself supplies.

The Crafts Industry Alliance even predicts the year’s most popular projects and materials. Although Etsy had a record year in 2023 (consolidated sales of $2.75B), the company recently laid off staff. Perhaps that reflects the popular adage, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Like many big box retailers, MULO crafts brands will need to continue to inspire consumers to visit their stores, using unique activities and effective marketing to remain alive and thriving.

In the meantime, we hope that JOANN can repair its financial woes and emerge as whole cloth.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in Inc.com, the New York Times and Forbes.