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Tag Archives | Jo-Ann Stores

Update | Cuttlebug, Copic, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, JOANN, & More!

With the start of the new year and trade shows happening, we have lots of catching up to do with the craft industry news! So let’s get started!

[Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to the reader when a purchase is made after a click.]

Cricut Cuttlebug

Cutting. Cricut has made two big product announcements recently. Fans of the Cuttlebug will be disappointed to learn that the die cut machine and its accessories are being discontinued. Those still wanting one (or supplies for one they already own) can shop while supplies last at Cricut.com.

Files from one of the most popular sources of SVG files for use on die cutting machines are now available in Cricut Access. Miss Kate Cuttables has launched several new collections in Cricut Access, including Spring Has Sprung, Springtime, All You Need Is Love, Be Mine Valentine, Love Letters, and Valentine’s Day.

Closing. Furniture chain Hemispheres, which was founded in 2001 by Hobby Lobby’s David Green, will be closing. The company’s vendors have been told the store will be placing no further inventory orders. Hemispheres’ eight stores in Texas and Oklahoma will close later this year after selling through existing and already-purchased inventory.

Closing 2. Impress Cards + Crafts has been serving Seattle-area paper crafters since 1987. But on February 23rd it will close its University Village store in Seattle, leaving only its Tukwilla location.

Closing 3. Scrapbook Store & More in Greenfield, Wisconsin will be closing their doors on March 31st. The owner, citing health problems and a changing scrapbook market, has announced plans to open a craft retreat house in late spring or early summer 2019 that will sleep 10-12 people.

Every store closure is a loss to the industry, of course. But this particular store is noteworthy as the store that started the scrapbooking career of a young Stephanie Hunt (aka Stephanie Smokovich) – now known to scrapbookers worldwide as the founder and designer of Bella Blvd.

Changes. In yet another sign of the decline of the popularity of pocket cards, Kelly Purkey has announced changes to her  monthly subscription club. The subscription traditionally included pocket cards and an exclusive stamp set. A second subscription option will now be made available moving forward that includes only the stamps, without the cards. The new stamp-only subscription will cost $16/month for a 12 month subscription.

Direct. Too Marker, the manufacturer of Copic markers, has announced that they are discontinuing their distribution agreement with Imagination International in the United States for the popular markers. Instead, the company plans to sell the markers directly themselves to the U.S. market.

Channels. Tonic Studios announced this week that they are changing channels. The company, which has long partnered with Hochanda for TV shopping sales, is jumping to Create and Craft TV starting in March 2019. Click here to see the full announcement.

Legal. After settling their patent infringement lawsuit against Tonic Studios in July, My Sweet Petunia moved on to another target in October: Stampin’ Up. In a widely anticipated move, My Sweet Petunia filed suit against Stampin’ Up in October 2018 alleging the company was infringing its patents on the MISTI tool by selling its Stamparatus tool. Stampin’ Up! has filed counter-claims against My Sweet Petunia challenging, among other things, the validity of one of My Sweet Petunia’s patents.

stamp-n-storage magnet sheets

Stamp-n-Storage magnet sheets in use

Wholesale. Stamp-n-Storage, which produces storage options for scrapbookers and card makers, is entering the wholesale market with its popular magnet cards for storing thin metal dies. All four sizes of Stamp-n-Storage magnet cards (5×7, 6×7, 8×7 and 8.5×11) were on display to retailers at the recent Creativation show in Phoenix. The company had previously marketed its products only via its own website and at consumer craft shows such as Stamp & Scrapbook Expo.

Adjustments. Facing a shrinking market for her company’s core Project Life products, Becky Higgins has shared with fans some major changes being taken to help ensure the health of the company moving forward. The company’s physical office space has been shut down, with all staff working from home now. The Good Life product line – the company’s foray into lifestyle products – is also going away. And they are also stopping exhibiting at consumer shows and shipping product internationally from their online store. Finally, they are discontinuing their affiliate marketing program.

In the email to consumers discussing the changes, Becky promised fans would see more video content containing Project Life projects soon, along with more online courses for the Becky Higgins classroom. The company also is planning what she described as “an adjustment in how we offer / package the Project Life product,” which may be a welcome change to many scrapbookers if it includes fewer duplicates of the 3×4 cards. Too many duplicates of those cards is a common complaint among Project Life core kit purchasers.

Chains. Michaels has announced it is closing all of the 36 Pat Catan’s stores in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The company acquired the Pat Catan stores three years ago when it bought Lamrite West, the parent company of Darice and Pat Catan’s. At the time of the acquisition, Michaels’ public statements pointed to Darice as the motivation for the acquisition, so the announcement of the retail stores’ impending closure is not particularly surprising. Michaels says it intends to rebrand up to 12 of the stores as Michaels stores and reopen them in the 2019 fiscal year. The company will also continue to maintain a warehouse for its wholesale business in Strongsville, Ohio.

“After a comprehensive review, we have decided to close all of the Pat Catan’s retail stores. We expect to rebrand and reopen up to 12 stores as new Michaels stores in fiscal 2019, and we will continue to maintain a support center and distribution center in Strongsville, Ohio to support our growing wholesale business. We believe these changes will provide more value for customers and shareholders by enabling us to leverage a more consistent merchandise assortment and eliminate duplicative retail operating expenses,” says Chuck Rubin, Chairman and CEO of The Michaels Companies. “This was not an easy decision, and I am grateful for the contributions of our Pat Catan’s Team Members. As we work through the closing process, we intend to provide employment opportunities or transition support for all Team Members.”

People. JOANN Stores has a new CEO to replace Jill Soltau, who left for JC Penney in October 2018 – and it’s a familiar face. Wade Miquelon, who had been serving as interim President and CEO since Soltau’s departure, was appointed last week as her permanent replacement. He was also given a seat on the Board of Directors as well. Miquelon joined JOANN as EVP and CFO in March 2016, and came to JOANN from The Walgreen Company.

Cruising. Michaels is partnering with Carnival Cruise Line to be their exclusive arts and crafts provider for their fleet of 26 cruise ships. Onboard ship, Carnival Cruise Line customers will have access to a variety of “Make It With Michaels” craft experiences that will rotate seasonally. And this spring, Michaels will host Carnival Cruise-themed classes in their stores.

“As we continue our mission to make it easy for parents to provide their kids with more mindful, screen-free fun, we are excited to partner with Carnival Cruise Line to inspire creativity at sea,” said Steve Carlotti, Michaels EVP of Marketing. “Carnival carries more than 5.2 million guests every year, including 800,000 kids, and this program will give guests of all ages a new and creative way to interact with our brand. As the number one player in the arts and crafts space, we are the preferred destination for making and creative play, and this new partnership is another way we are solidifying our leadership position.”

To celebrate the program’s launch, the companies are giving away five Carnival Cruises between now and April 30th. You can enter to win on the Carnival Cruise website.

Dates. Speaking of getting away, Jenn Shurkus has announced the 2019 dates for her Creative Journey Art Retreats on Cape Cod. The spring retreat will be April 27th-28th, and the fall retreat is November 2nd-November 3rd. Registration for the spring retreat opens February 17th at 9am ET.

Sold. U.K.-based Coats has sold its North American Crafts business to Spinrite, the Canadian manufacturer of yarn brands such as Caron, Bernat and Lily Sugar n’ Cream, for initial cash consideration of $37 million. The acquisition brings brands like Red Heart, Susan Bates, Aunt Lydia and Coats & Clark to Spinrite.

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Jo-Ann’s Ignites Social Firestorm with Anti-Tariff Advocacy

Jo-Ann Stores launched a political advocacy program last week to oppose new tariffs on product imports from overseas. The result, predictable with anything remotely political these days, was an avalanche of vitriol.

Jo-Ann Made in America Tax

The advocacy program poorly framed the tariffs as a “Made in America tax” in an attempt to stress that the tariffs will make items handmade by American crafters more expensive. (The goal of the campaign is to get crafters to contact their Representatives and Senators via the site linked above.) This high concept slogan fell loudly flat with its intended audience, it seems. Some were just confused by the campaign, seeming to think Jo-Ann’s was claiming that the tariffs applied to American products. Other recipients of the campaign’s email and social posts expressed that they found the wording deceptive.

Many of the outraged commenters on Jo-Ann’s post on Facebook have vowed to boycott the company in the future for engaging in politics. The most popular alternative boycotters are promising to seek out by far is Hobby Lobby, a good indication that the outrage is more about about the specific position that Jo-Ann’s is taking (opposing a policy of President Trump) than that they are engaging in politics in general. Based on the previous experience of Hobby Lobby, Starbucks, and Target – all of whom are thriving after similar consumer boycott threats – Jo-Ann probably doesn’t have much to worry about.

Jo-Ann Stores isn’t the only major craft retailer who has spoken out against the tariffs. Back in March, when the tariffs were initially proposed, Michaels Companies joined Jo-Ann Stores (and 24 other retailers) in signing a public letter opposing the tariffs that was organized by the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

So why would Jo-Ann Stores (and Michaels in a smaller way) voluntarily venture into a political issue that they had to know would cause backlash? The fact, basically, that they were willing to wade into this mire at all is telling of just how serious they believe the China tariffs are for their business. (And this assessment can be extrapolated to virtually all other craft businesses as well.)

What has Joann’s sounding the alarm? As of last Friday (the 24th), a 25% tariff (import tax) now applies to all virtually all craft category products that are imported from China. Jo-Ann’s is highlighting the following items from the tariff list in its campaign:

  • Candle Holders (9405.50.40)
  • Cookie Cutters (8205.51.30)
  • Faux Fur (6001.10.20)
  • Feather Craft and Décor Articles (6701.00.30)
  • Fleece (6001.22.00)
  • Glass Beads (7018.10.50)
  • Glue (3506.10.50)
  • Knit Fabric (6005.37.00, 6004.10.00, 6006.44.00)
  • Magnifying Glasses (9013.80.20)
  • Metal Beads (8308.90.30, 8308.10.00)
  • Paper Cutting Machines (8441.10.00)
  • Paper Products (4823.90.67, 4823.90.86)
  • Twig/Vine Baskets (4602.19.18)
  • Velour and Similar Fabrics (6001.92.00)
  • Vine Wreaths and Décor (4602.19.60)
  • Washi and other Paper Tape (4811.41.21)
  • Woven Cotton Fabric (5208.52.30, 5208.32.30, 5208.52.40, 5208.32,40, 5208.12.60, 5208.22.60, 5806.20.00),
  • Woven Manmade Fabric (Poly, Nylon, etc) (5407.61.99, 5513.21.00)
  • Yarn (5606.00.00, 5511.10.00)

A close examination of the tariff list also shows more items like clay, paints, stamping foils, inks, drawing ink, film, paper, metals, buttons, glue, and sewing machines that are likely to either directly or indirectly raise prices on craft products.

Products that are manufactured in the United States won’t be safe from tariff price increases, either. With items such as chalk, mica, wax, dyes, coloring matter, pigments, printing ink, inks, natural rubber, synthetic rubber, paper, metal, and printing plates and many wood items also on the tariff list, many American craft product manufacturers will find themselves paying higher prices for the raw materials used to produce even their U.S.-made products.

Jill Soltau, CEO of Jo-Ann Stores, told Fox Business last week that two-thirds of the products the company sells are sourced from China, and that no alternatives are available outside China that can meet their quantity and quality specifications. She said Jo-Ann Stores expects that consumers will see a 25% price increase on most products as a result of the tariffs.

The new tariffs are of concern in several ways for the financial health of the crafts industry. Sudden significant price increases may lead some consumers to opt out of the industry altogether due to a decrease in the perceived value they are receiving. Other consumers may find their discretionary hobby spending involuntarily limited by budget constraints caused by tariff-related price increases on non-discretionary household spending. Consumers who remain active in the industry will find their dollar not going as far – the same dollars buying fewer SKU units. Since wholesale and production prices for most items are based on volume ordered by the company, fewer SKUs being turned over could lead to increased wholesale prices – thus leading to even more consumer price increases and a vicious circle of inflation.

One of the Trump administration’s stated motivations for putting the tariffs in place is due to Chinese companies’ violation of U.S. intellectual property. This has been a major problem for U.S. craft companies on platforms like Alibaba, where blatant copies of popular stamp manufacturers’ designs are sold to U.S. consumers with barely any recourse for the companies. Stampin’ Up! made an attempt to file a copyright infringement suit against Alibaba Hong Kong Ltd in U.S. District Court in Utah in April, but then withdrew the suit for unknown reasons six weeks later before Alibaba even filed a response.

Will the cure (tariffs) be worse than the disease (copyright infringement) for the crafts industry? Only time will tell.

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Update

JOANN store exteriorMakeover. One of the country’s largest (and at nearly 75 years old, one of its oldest) craft chains is undergoing a rebranding. The company long known as Jo-Ann Stores recently began calling itself “JOANN” in company announcements and has a newly redesigned logo and a fresh new shade of green as its signature color.

In addition to the new cosmetic look, the new JOANN is also engaging in a branding campaign, promoting the hashtag #handmadewithjoann and launching a series of videos about creating and creators.

In addition, JOANN has created a new mobile app that is much more community focused, allowing users to share their own creative projects.

“As shoppers’ behaviors and preferences evolve, we need to adapt the way we connect with them,” said Chris DiTullio, senior vice president, marketing and omni-channel at JOANN. “We’re committed to the longtime loyalists coming in to our stores, as well as the next generation of creators who want to shop, learn and share wherever they are. This app is so exciting because it offers something no other craft retailer does – the ability for customers to confidently share their finished projects with us, and with friends, family and one another as well.”

Partnership. Etsy has announced that it is launching a partnership with Printful that will provide print-on-demand integration to Etsy sellers. This will allow graphic artists to sell on Etsy and have Printful handle the logistics of printing and shipping items like t-shirts, mugs, hats, totes, wall prints, and other items.

“We applaud Etsy on adopting more professional services for their sellers,” says Printful CEO, Davis Siksnans. “Sellers can continue devoting time to their craft while leaving logistics to third-parties like Printful.”

Support. Taylor Swift got support from an unexpected source during the recent trial in Denver over her successful civil suit alleging she was groped by a radio DJ during a fan meet & greet. The offices of Craftsy are right across the street from the Denver courthouse where the trial took place. The Craftsy staff showed their support for Swift during the trial with a series of Post-It note messages on the windows that were clearly visible from the street below. Swift’s unofficial girl squad at Craftsy did not go unnoticed – they received a delivery of flowers and a note of appreciation from the singer on Tuesday after the trial’s conclusion.

Delinquent. The Tennessean reports that on the evening of August 8th, firefighters had to climb to the roof of the Dickson, Tennessee Hobby Lobby store to remove a 15 year old trespasser trying to use the store’s roof as an impromptu skateboard ramp.

Calls. Tombow USA has a call open until September 11th to find members for their 2018 design team.

Jobs. The following craft industry jobs are currently listed as available:

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Update | MISTI, Project Life, Etsy, Jobs, Events & More!

The post-winter show doldrums sure are over! Lots of companies have been busy with the result being lots of news to share!

[Disclosure: Some links in this article are affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to you if a purchase is made after a click.]

Endings. The Project Life partnership with Stampin’ Up! is ending. Project Life branded products will continue to be sold (while supplies last) through Stampin’ Up! demonstrators until the end of the current catalog year on May 31st, 2017.

Patents. My Sweet Petunia, the manufacturer of the popular MISTI stamping tool, was granted their application for a U.S.MISTI patent on March 21st. The original MISTI tool took the stamping world by storm in 2015 and 2016, and the new Mini and Mega sized versions together won the CHA Hot Products Award for Papercrafting products at the 2016 Mega Show.

The MISTI patent had first been applied for by My Sweet Petunia on January 13th, 2015, but was initially denied in the summer of 2016. The company was able to secure approval of the MISTI patent last month after making a revision of their original patent application.

Winners. Etsy was honored as a finalist in the first-ever “World Changing Ideas Awards” sponsored by Fast Company magazine. The online marketplace for crafters was recognized as one of the top 24 finalists out of over 1000 submissions for the idea “Economic Security for the Gig Economy“, a method of ensuring freelance and self-employed people (like their marketplace participants) have stable access to items like healthcare and retirement savings.

Extensions. Tim Holtz has announced a new line of jewelry products that will be exclusive to Jo-Ann Stores called Tim Holtz Assemblage. The line is in Tim’s signature vintage style, and many elements are recognizable as adapted from metal elements designed for his papercrafts line. The line is available now – at 50% off – on Joann.com.

 

Changes. Megan Hoeppner is leaving her role as Editor-in-Chief of Scrapbook & Cards Today magazine for personal reasons. She will, however, continue with the magazine as its Pic Tips columnist. The Editor-in-Chief position is being filled by Susan Opel, who is familiar to many in the industry from her time at the now-defunct Papercrafts & Scrapbooking magazine.

Megan Hoeppner

Megan Hoeppner (on left) and I together at SNAP Conference in 2016.

Changes, part 2. Etsy has named Rachel Glaser as its new Chief Financial Officer. She replaces Kristina Salen whose intended departure as of March 31st was announced last fall. Glaser will start work on or around June 1st, and Karen Mullane (Vice President, Corporate Controller) will serve as interim CFO. With 30 years of executive experience in finance, Glaser comes to Etsy from Leaf Group, a consumer media and marketplace company whose brands include Society 6, Livestrong.com, ehow.com, cuteness, and Techwalla.

Events. AFCI (formerly known as CHA) is partnering with SPC (Sierra Pacific Crafts) to put on a Mixed Media buying event in Salt Lake City this summer. Education will be on July 17th, and the show floor will be open July 18th though July 20th. Exhibit space is selling fast, and attendee registration opens on April 19th.

Events, part 2. It may feel like you’re barely over your jet lag from this year, but exhibit registration is already open for the 2018 Creativeworld show at Messe Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany. Book before April 13th for an early booking discount. More than 130 exhibitors were already signed up as of the end of March, according to Messe Frankfurt.

[Note: Messe Frankfurt and its Creativeworld show are a Scrapbook Update sponsor.]

Considering whether to go for the first time? In case you might have missed them, here’s my show reports from Creativeworld 2017:

Documenting. Ali Edwards has announced that the next “Week in the Life” project will run the week of April 17th. New digital and physical product kits are available for the 2017 project on the Ali Edwards webstore.

Teams. Graphic 45 is skipping their usual design team call for 2017, and instead have announced a group they call the 2017-2018 Graphic 45 Brand Ambassadors. The company promises that the design team call will return in 2018, but for this year, the new team includes lots of returning names from last year, with a few new ones mixed in.

Jobs:

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Update | Warehouse Sales, Moves, Jobs, Trends, and more!

Today, in this Friday edition of the Update column, we’ve got news, jobs, food for thought, and some great sales. (Disclaimer: Author not responsible for damage to your wallet!)

Sales. It’s warehouse sale time! Bella Blvd is selling warehouse sale grab boxes for $25 plus $10/box domestic shipping through their online store while they last. Boxes are described in the FAQ as approximately 70% paper and 30% embellishments, with only 2-3% variation in contents between boxes. [Sold out]

Simple Stories is also running their own warehouse sale, with $200 value boxes selling for $49.99 (plus $10 shipping). Boxes contain mostly the same contents but may vary by 2-3%.

Moves. Up-and-coming stamp company Reverse Confetti has announced that they have signed a lease to move operations into a combined classroom/warehouse space in August when construction on the new building is complete.

EtsyGreenLibrary

The “Green Library” at Etsy. Credit: Emily Andrews

Also moving up – in am much less modest way – is Etsy. The company recently moved into a new headquarters that is a few blocks from their previous Brooklyn building, but twice the size of the old space. More than 850 people work in the new space, which was designed and built following the sustainability standards of the Living Building Challenge from the International Living Future Institute. And of course, a large portion of the decor and furnishings in Etsy’s new headquarters are items that come from Etsy’s own artisans and sellers.

Honors. Sara Davies, founder of British manufacturer Crafter’s Companion, was created a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List this month. According the government website describing the various royal honors, the MBA is “awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community.” The honors are considered by a committee, but are ultimately approved by the Queen herself. Awards are formally awarded to honorees by the Queen in ceremonies at Buckingham Palace.

Sara Davies

Sara Davies

Davies said of the honor: “I am thrilled, honoured and so genuinely humbled by this recognition. I was surprised to hear that I would receive an MBE and have no idea where the nomination originated but I’m incredibly grateful. By becoming an MBE, I hope it helps raise the profile of our sector and what a thriving industry it is. I also hope it inspires others entrepreneurs in craft to believe, innovate and put our industry firmly on the map.”

The 32-year-old entrepreneur is being recognized for her work growing Crafter’s Companion from its founding in her college dorm room barely over 10 years ago into an operation that employs nearly 100 people on two continents. Davies is also a past board member of the Craft & Hobby Association, and the founding board chair of CHA-UK.

Jobs. The following industry positions are currently listed as open and available:

Jo-Ann Crafts has posted full-time positions for Inventory Management Planner, Copy Writer, Associate Seasonal Buyer, Sourcing Assistant, and a Store Planning Coordinator (Interior Designer or Architect) in their Hudson, OH headquarters within the past week. These positions are accessible in the Joann.com online job portal.

History. The crafts industry sometimes likes to think that we invented scrapbooking, but of course it has been around for centuries. The Messy Nessy Chic blog has a look at a fascinating scrapbook compiled in the late 1930’s documenting the life of a young woman named Lotta June Miller, who traveled cross country from Spokane to Pennsylvania to take up a position as theatre director at a teacher’s college. It’s a fascinating read, and a great look at the roots of scrapbooking.

Trends. Fredericksburg.com has an interesting profile up showing how a group of women is getting together regularly to color, following the growth of the adult coloring trend in the last year. This is an especially interesting look at the current coloring trend when viewed from the perspective of the rise – and then fall – in popularity of the group “crop” in the scrapbooking industry.

Retailers. The oft-controversial Hobby Lobby was the target of anti-gay bigotry at their store in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville, Florida yesterday. An unknown person rearranged letters on the store’s shelves (an increasingly common internet meme) to display an anti-gay message, which was removed immediately upon discovery by store staff. Hobby Lobby communications coordinator Bob Miller told local station News4Jax in a statement that “It is beyond unfortunate that some individuals would use items intended to bring beauty and joy through creativity to instead propagate hate, especially at a time when love is so critically needed right now.”

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Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Names New CEO

JoannLogoThumbnailJo-Ann Fabric & Crafts has announced that Jill Soltau will be taking over as CEO effective March 2nd. Jim Kerr, the company’s CFO, had been serving as interim CEO since the sudden departure of CEO Travis Smith last August for undisclosed reasons. Jo-Ann’s is owned by private equity company Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.

Soltau is the former CEO of Shopko, having also spent time at Sears, Kohl’s and Carson Pirie Scott during her 25 year career in retail. She had been with Shopko since 2007.

“We are excited to partner with Jill as we continue to build upon Jo-Ann’s leading position in the fabric and craft industry. Jill’s passion, strategic vision and proven success make her an excellent leader for the company going forward,” said Todd Purdy, Partner, Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.

“For over 70 years, Jo-Ann has been inspiring the creativity in others and I am thrilled to join the team to help drive the brand’s future success,” said Ms. Soltau. “Jo-Ann is an industry leader that has exciting opportunities to achieve even greater long-term potential. I look forward to working with the talented management team and dedicated associates to bolster Jo-Ann’s market position and create further enthusiasm for the Jo-Ann brand.”

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