Way back in March of 2011,
I wrote what has turned out to be a VERY popular post, SO popular in fact that not only did it receive the most views AND the most comments in 2011, it has continued to get the most views and the most comments every year since!!! And not only that! The comments that we receive on this post are passionate, and surprisingly LENGTHY! Some of these comments in fact have been 4-5 paragraphs long. WOW! It’s like the post that just won’t die!!! Evidently the subject matter of this post STILL strikes a sensitive nerve with our readers, and when I reveal the title of this ultra-popular post, I’d be surprised if you didn’t immediately agree! This post was all about….
If you haven’t read the original
post rant yet, I suggest you do that (by clicking the link above), but it was precipitated by an extremely bad experience at JoAnn’s (which was preceded by MANY bad experiences at JoAnn’s). It was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”. I called JoAnn’s in Ohio… and I wrote them a scathing letter detailing my many complaints. Then as promised I shared my experience and that letter on my Blog and with my FaceBook friends.
Did JoAnn’s respond? I guess you could say they did. They wrote back saying that due to a recent change in ownership (JoAnn’s was bought out by Leonard Green & Partners in Dec 2010), I could look forward to BIG improvements at JoAnn’s. They promised that stores would soon be modernized and better stocked, employees would be better trained and compensated etc. etc.
So did JoAnn’s institute these changes as promised? I can say that in mid 2011 there were some minor improvements made to the store nearest me (in Winston-Salem, NC). They installed a ticket system at the cutting table so that now you can at least walk around a little bit while you’re waiting 20-30 minutes or so to get your fabric cut. The lighting is a little better. They added a new cash register and a roped, winding checkout line (ala Disneyworld), but it really didn’t seem to speed up the checkout process, it only gave us a HUGE selection of candy to look at (which I’m sure young moms love) while we wait, and wait and wait, and by the way, I’ve only seen both cash registers operating once in 3 years regardless of how many people are in the store. So, no…based on my observations anyway, conditions really haven’t improved much at JoAnn’s. And based on the continued and consistent “action” this post gets and the passionate complaints of our readers, I can only surmise that the less than acceptable condition of my local JoAnn’s is not an isolated problem.
So what’s the answer?
Well to be honest, there doesn’t appear to be an easy (or a cheap) solution to the problem of JoAnn’s because here’s the deal. Barring another buyout (by a company with more integrity), the owners seem to be very comfortable with the way things are right now. They’re making money and they have no real incentive to improve conditions because they’ve basically run all their competition out of business. Oh sure there’s a couple of specialty quilt stores in the area (and I wholeheartedly support them), but they don’t carry zippers and most other notions, nor do they carry clothing, home dec or crafting fabrics. I don’t know how it went down in your town, but we used to have several really nice fabric stores in Winston-Salem. There was a Cloth World and a couple of family run stores. But in swooped JoAnn’s with their coupons and teaser sales. They bought out Cloth World and the Mom & Pop stores just couldn’t compete, and if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us had a hand in their demise. We responded to the siren call of lower prices, but once Mom & Pop closed, the owners of JoAnn’s knew they could they had us over a barrel. And you know what… they DID and they still DO!!! So now, we really only have two choices.
We can “put up or shut up”!
OK that’s blunt, but its true. JoAnn’s is currently being run by a group of folks who seem to only care about their bottom line. That means that its unlikely that anything is going to get their attention… except something that affects their bottom line. In other words, we need to either stop shopping at JoAnn’s, or quit complaining about JoAnn’s. Because here’s the deal, there may not be many other brick & mortar options for you in your own town, but the Internet makes almost any store a local store now… so if we’re REALLY serious about affecting a change…
Here’s a THREE-fold solution to the Problem with JoAnn’s
1) As much as is possible, STOP shopping at JoAnn’s: I am SERIOUS! I get all my supplies elsewhere and the only reason I darken the door of JoAnn’s now is for an emergency spool of thread, (or to take these pictures this morning). Seriously, I’ve only bought exactly 3 spools of thread there in the last 12 months and yes, I just checked. Now I know it might not be realistic for everyone to stop shopping altogether at JoAnn’s, but for those of you who can, I encourage you to do so.
2) Make a commitment to at least REDUCE the amount of stuff that you buy from JoAnn’s: It may be more reasonable to commit to shopping somewhere other than JoAnn’s for at least a portion of your sewing supplies. For example, if there’s a nice family-owned quilt store in your area, maybe buy as much as you can from them, then augment the rest with stuff you can buy cheaply from JoAnn’s. Is it going to cost you more to do this? Probably, but look at it this way… If we all make a change… if ALL OF US buy less from JoAnn’s… even 25-30% less, then those tightwads up in Ohio might just pay attention to us, because right now let’s face it, they’re thumbing their noses at us!
3) Investigate alternative sources for your sewing supply needs: Since there are no independent sewing supply stores in my area, I do almost all of my shopping online now. Does it take more advance planning to buy online? Yes in fact it does. You don’t get the satisfaction of coming home with a bag full of stuff for a new project and starting to work on it immediately. For me, I plan about 4-5 projects ahead at all times and I generally get my fabrics from one source, and specialty supplies from 2-3 other places. I’m used to doing it this way now and it’s no big deal. In the event a new fabric store comes to my area, I will make every effort to shop there, even if it costs me more. That’s how strongly I feel about this. So, if you’re like me and do not live within a reasonable driving distance of a privately run sewing store, I invite you to take advantage of some of the following online resources.
For Fabric — eQuilter.Com —-Hancock’s of Paducah —- Material Girl
For Notions—Nancy’s Notions — Home Sew— Annie’s —-HobbyLobby
Just imagine what might happen if ALL of us take action of some sort. What if JoAnn’s suddenly realized that they’re 1st quarter sales figures for 2015 were DOWN 35%? I think they might just start paying attention to our complaints. Together we can be a powerful force for change in our industry, but we’re going to have to be willing to put our money where our mouths are. What about you? Are you ready to do that? 🙂
And now… it’s YOUR turn!
Do you have other ideas about how to turn the heads of the folks pulling the strings at JoAnn’s? Because I welcome any and all suggestions to “the JoAnn’s problem” and I’m looking forward to a lively discussion about this dilemma, so please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the space provided below.
And please feel free to forward this post to anyone you think has a stake in the JoAnn’s problem. The more folks who see this post and respond to it, the greater the chance that we can affect the change we’re after!