Sewing News: JoAnn Fabrics Sold

JoAnn Fabrics Sold

A private equity firm in Los Angeles has purchased JoAnn Fabrics. Having lived near JoAnn Fabrics’ headquarters city, and now living near a store, I have a love-hate relationship with JoAnn Fabrics. I simply hope that the buyout will change some things that drive me nuts. In any case, here’s the news: Leonard Green, a private equity firm, bought JoAnn Fabrics this month for $1.6 billion. Last month, the firm bought J. Crew for about $3 billion. Leonard Green seems to be on a roll: Since 1989, the firm has invested in 52 companies. You can read more here: JoAnn Fabrics Bought By Leonard Green.

Those who live near a JoAnn’s — and those who live in remote areas and have no other choices — find JoAnn’s to be less than ideal. Do you have strong opinions about JoAnn Fabrics? Please take a moment to comment.  First, I want to say that in the Seattle area we have many choices, including one regional chain, so we don’t suffer for fabric and notions. But on with my criticisms: The current employees at my local JoAnn seem nice enough, but my cumulative experience has been mixed. Sometimes the staff has very little knowledge of sewing — they simply needed a retail job. Some of the fabrics are thin and low quality. And, the sales flyers that I get in the mail drive me nuts. The coupons are always timed for two weeks hence. The chance that I will carry around the sales flyer in my purse for the next two weeks is remote. Finally, my local store’s “remodel” resulted in half of the store being devoted to scrapbooking, crafts, and bedroom decorations. I do not live near a “Super JoAnn’s” but rather what they call a “small store,” so the apparel fabric side seems so diminished. This might not be the case for a suburbanite who shops at a Super JoAnn’s.
I’d like to hear from you. What do you think the new owners should change at JoAnn’s? Just leave a comment below.

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94 thoughts on “Sewing News: JoAnn Fabrics Sold

  1. I Love JoAnns. Is it really too much to ask, if you want to use the coupons to carry them with you? Cut them out put them in a small coupon holder and you are good to go. Yes there are lots of employees that know nothing about, sewing, scrapbooking etc. Yes they pretty much just need a job and it fills that need. The people at the store I shop at that know, sewing, scrapbooking etc out weight the ones that don’t. I hope the new owner does not screw with things too much. Cleaner stores would be nice. I will tell you I am also an employee of JoAnns. I get frustrated with customers that have no idea what they are asking for and expect us to just know what they want. Customers that don’t have their coupons and expect us to just give them the discount any way. The service is some give and take. If you treat me like a human and give me respect, I will bend over backward to make you happy. If you come at me with attitude and a since of entitlement, you may as well forget about it. The Michaels in my area I never get a hello and I am never asked if I need help. The Hobby Lobby close to me has major attitude. They are very unfriendly and never enough staff to help or even find to help. Craft Stores are truly becoming a thing of the past. Cherish the one you have and go shopping.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I have to say that I sympathize with you as an employee! I have overheard some pretty clueless questions from customers, such as: “I want to cover this cushion.” “Okay, what size is it?” “Oh, it’s about from here to here.” “Oh, it’s at home. Well, okay, if you bring it in I can help you figure out how much fabric you need.” “Oh.” Anyway, thanks for commenting and for being there at JoAnn’s. I hope your job and benefits will only improve with the buyout.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I completely agree. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had some crisp retro or Ami Butler-type fabrics? I must be getting spring fever!

    2. Jo-Ann’s has increased premium fabrics in both quilting cottons which can be used for clothing as well as the home decorator fabrics. They now carry several collections like susan winget, april cornell and general premium fabrics. Ask next time you are in.

  2. I have lots of complaints about the Joanne store near me. First – there are almost no US made fabrics. There are almost no good stretch or jersey fabrics. I like to make my own T-shirts using the Stretch -n-sew patterns. They have no good fabrics for that. They have a huge wall of quilting fabrics that are thin and cheap and in narrow widths. I have little use for that. The staff is inexperienced, rude and lazy. They don’t seem to care about their jobs or about the customers. They don’t know the stock and don’t seem interested in learning either. I am polite and courteous, but it all seems lost on them. Even when the store isn’t very busy I always have to wait in line. The crafts section is bigger than the sewing section and it isn’t as good as say Micheal’s. I think they need to decide whether they are a sewing store or a crafts store. They aren’t doing a very good job at either one.

    I miss Hancock Fabrics. they always had exactly what I wanted and needed for my sewing.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I have heard similar comments to yours about JoAnn’s. It’s frustrating to be courteous and not have those sentiments returned, wherever you shop! I agree with your stretch fabrics comments — in my store they have a lot of interlock cottons with no stretch. Pros such as Marcy Tilton say they seldom use interlock since it lasts only one season. If you have few options in your area, here’s a Threads article with some mail-order and online sources: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4993/sewing-lycra-blends

  3. I am disappointed by the number of fabric that they carry which is made in China. I know that there are still everyday, dress and home fabrics made in the US as well as Europe, which JoAnn’s could carry. IMHO, JoAnn’s should return to its roots in fabric, yarn, crafting and sundries, and leave the decor items to others. BTW, I am finding myself ordering fabric online, from more “boutique” type shops, as the options in MA keep decreasing. We had a wonderful resource in the Fabric Place, formerly of Framingham, that abruptly closed a few years ago… it was awesome for amateur and professional sewers, and so sad when it closed.

    1. Thanks again. Yes, “decor” is the category that JoAnn’s should ditch! What are your favorite online fabric stores? Some fabrics look tempting, but I’m still a little wary about buying online.

  4. I wish they would get rid of the bargain fabrics. First they aren’t a bargain and second their ugly as hell. It like some one just requested a truckload of ugly. Also, being the only mid-level (price and quality) fabric store in Michigan the fabric selections have gone down drastically in the past few years. And lastly the rest room suck they are the nastiest.

    1. I love your “truckload of ugly” comment! Yeah, those bargain fabrics really vary, don’t they? 🙂 I always look but rarely find. My store recently got a minor remodel, including the restroom. Previously, there was a large piece of fabric — circa 1980s — stapled up against the far wall. Not only ugly but unsanitary! The remodel is a real improvement, and so far it’s clean. My family in Michigan would completely agree with you about Jo-Ann’s. Which part of MI do you live? Search for my posts on Interquilten in Interlochen, and also Haberman Fabrics in Detroit area is a fine fabric store. Thanks for commenting!

      1. If anyone thinks they a getting a bargain at Joann’s when they purchase holiday and gift items at 40-50% off, you better think again. To put it simply, if something is marked 9.99 and on sale for 5.00, you better believe that they only paid 2.50 at the tops for it. Remember, that stuff is made in China. So if you paid the price on the tag-you got had! Never, ever buy anything in Joanns at regular price. In addition to coming clean with the public about their pricing, they need to improve the quality of their fabrics or offer them at fair retail prices, not inlflated, and improve the quality of their customer service.

      2. I hear ya! Thanks for your comments, Cheryl! I rarely venture over to the holiday or gift side. It is worth signing up for the coupons so that if inclined to buy fabric there, or have few choices in your area, you can get a “40% off one item” discount. See my earlier comment for the inconveniences of Jo-Ann’s coupon programs.

    2. I think the new owners of jo-ann fabrics should order less fabric from China and more Fabrics from U.S.A. As a quilter I would rather pay more for the fabric and get Great cottons. We put in so much time on our quilts that It really doesn`t pay to use cheap,thin,poor quality cloth. thanks for listening….

      1. Of course I’ll listen. Others are too. I agree — I would pay more for domestic fabrics too. Thanks for your comments.

  5. As to Glee’s comment about JoAnn’s not having enough US made fabrics, There are no more US made fabrics!! All our textile mills , even sheets and towels, closed down years ago and moved overseas. Most of our farmers stopped even planting cotton and choose to grow soybeans instead. What little cotton is grown here is then shipped overseas to be processed and shipped back..hmm..wonder why fabric is so much more expensive? I don’t! The fabrics at JoAnn’s have definitely gone downhill over the years and I was recently shocked to see a Debbie Mumm quilt fabric there for $14/yd! Are you kidding me?!! I don’t pay $14/yd for a Hoffman of California or a Moda print at my local quilt store. All in all it will be interesting to see the results of the buyout in JoAnn’s prices and merchandising.

    1. That’s what I thought – that there aren’t any textile mills in the US anymore. We may be spending less money but getting fabric that is poorly made. I have a fabric claim right now with Joann’s for two yards of fabric. There is a white line running right at the fold line. It’s cotton and I always wash my cottons before cutting. I was told by the store clerk that because of store policy they can not refund my money because the fabric was washed and the defect might have been caused by my washing machine. Common sense would tell you otherwise but we’ll see what their fabric claims department says. I’ve shopped at Joann’s ever since I can remember and have always trusted them but now I’m having second thoughts.

      1. Thanks for your comment. There are SOME mills in the U.S. I wish I had a list to supply. Another thing to consider is that our demand for organic fabrics and quality fabrics are leading North American companies to work closely with overseas manufacturers. Those are jobs in which we are having a say and supporting families. So it’s not all bad news. 🙂

  6. Joann’s here drives me crazy – sweet women working there but always understaffed no matter what the sale day it is. Corporate seems to have its head up its wazoo when it comes to understanding customer needs and customer loyalty — it isn’t cheap to sew anymore and if they want people to keep coming back the experience needs to be pleasant, not an ordeal.

    I don’t want to stand in one line for 20 min to get fabric cut and another one for 20 min to check out – every single time.
    I want a clean store and a bathroom I can use without having to grab an already short staffed and over-worked sales assistant to open it up for me.
    I’m tired of that cheap crap fabric from overseas. If I’m going to spend the time sewing something, it has to be with fabric that makes it worthwhile.

      1. We only have a JoAnn’s and a couple quilt shops. The store was recently remodeled and enlarged. It has always been clean and most of the clerks are sewers and very nice and the store is adequately staffed so no long waits. I like taking a number to get fabrics cut–beats having people cut in front of me. It would be nice to have better quality of fabrics and more apparel fabrics–everything seems to have gone to the quilters. For some reason–maybe because this is Alaska we have more than enough fleece to last a lifetime.

      2. You know, another comment remarked the same thing about fleece — that Jo-Ann’s seems to be stuffed with fleece. And I noticed the most recent flyer says “Thousands of solids and prints.” Wow, I don’t really need or want that! So it might not be just Alaska. I went to a nice fabric shop in downtown Anchorage — have you been there? (Alaska is, of course, a BIG place!)

    1. I agree that JoAnn’s carries low end fabric….it has nothing to do with it being made overseas. I am a small manufacturer and when I buy fabric wholesale at a trade show I always ask if the fabric I am buying will be going into a chain store. They use the same print but on a lower end ‘grey cloth’, {the fabric it is printed on). Most fabric is produced or printed overseas in order to keep costs lower.
      I travel all over the US for shows and have gone into a lot of JoAnn’s if I am desperate for something to finish an item. I have found some shops very helpful but my worst expereince is when I bought 3 yards of fabric off a bolt and it measured 3 yards and one inch. They would not ‘throw in’ the one inch of fabric but would have cut it off and thrown it away….needless to say I try to avoid JoAnn’s if I can. Too bad Hancock’s chain had to sell off so many stores.

      1. Hey, everyone, we’ve got someone who makes it happen! Thanks for your comments, Joanne. So I think you are saying that the major chains have the designs printed on a lower-end cloth to begin with. As far as Jo-Ann’s I think it’s just a matter of employees afraid of getting in trouble for the extra inch. In any case, we would love to know about the manufacturing process if you wouldn’t mind making another comment. Thanks again!

  7. i hope the new owners clear out the crap from the store. joann’s is the only game in town here in se michigan; habermann’s is a bit expensive and tends towards specialty fabrics. also, they won’t sell less than a yard of fabric cut from a bolt. if you need less, your screwed.

    i live equal distances from four joann’s stores. i hate the way the fabrics are all scrunched in one side of the stores, double stacked in skinny rows and poorly lit. i hate that they push overpriced, poor quality, ‘designer’ calicos while letting their stock of good fabric on the calico walls suffer. i hate the cheap poly bridal fabric they always push, too. let’s have some nice, meduim weight satin and taffeta. not that cheap stuff i can see my hand thru.

    i especially hate the cutting counter. whoever instated that stupid deli style take a number thing should be smacked. everyone just crowds around the counter, watching the women who are cutting move at two speeds: slow and slower. then they page a number and stand ther for a few minutes to see if anyone shows up. geez, just let people line up already.

    the dollar store junk is awful, it lines the aisles. once hancock closed in michigan, my joann’s immediately cut back on their competitively priced fabrics. now they have higher priced, and really cheap stuff. and, they play a lot of games with their coupons here. send out a coupon on regular priced mdse, then run teeny sales on almost everything in the store.

    and don’t get me started on how joann’s leaves one cashier open no matter how long the line is, then yack in her ear about who knows what while she’s trying to ring people up.

    i just wish the stores would go back to being fabric and craft stores, start carrying better quality mdse, and put a few people on the work schedule.

    needless to say, i shop online a lot these days. and not at joann.com.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Paula. It’s so frustrating when Jo-Ann’s is the “only game in town,” as you say. That’s the case where I grew up, too. I’m curious about Habermann’s — I’ve seen their ads in Threads Magazine. They are part of a consortium of fine fabric shops. One of them is in my area, and they will cut by the inch. So the two stores have completely different policies. We love our local fine fabric store, and they have some reasonably priced bolts. It’s all lovely quality whatever the price. The deli counter! I HATE that too! Can you tell me where you shop online? I’d like to have a list to help people avoid the bad service at their local chains. Thanks again!

  8. I found this blog entry with a frustrated Google search of “Jo-ann fabric all made in china?”

    I love fashion, I love clothes, and I love sewing, but I’m also trying to be a socially responsible consumer. I’ve been searching for clothing brands in styles I like that are made in the US, and so far the only good source I’ve found is Shopbop.com, where most of the designers they sell are actually made in the US! But, because of that, all of the clothes are quite expensive. This is fine, but.. I know how to sew, and it seems silly to pay upwards of $50, $75, or $100 for a very, very simple clothing design made of a thin stretch fabric or something. So every time I see a cute little shift dress that happens to be $100+, before I can convince myself that it’s worth saving up for, I think to myself “I could sew that for half as much, and it would probably turn out cuter!”

    But then, every time, I run into the problem of finding 1) a suitable clothing fabric in Jo-Ann’s abysmal selection that is 2) not made in China. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Jo-Ann’s looking for fabric to make a cute, trendy outfit for myself and found what I was looking for. It’s all quilting, and novelty prints, and cheap prom dress material. Many times I’ve wanted to make just a simple, cute, vintage/50’s style cotton dress, but the cotton selection is pretty much dominated by quilting, with crazy patterns and thin-as-paper quality. I have had pretty good luck at my local Hancock’s Fabric though.. ours recently restocked and re-arranged the fabrics by type and I was really impressed with the change!

    And then there’s the locally-made problem. That’s really the kicker for me. Although, I guess if I sew my own clothes from fabric made in China, I’m at least only using half as many sweat-shop workers as I would if I bought an item constructed in China using fabric made in China, so there is that… and if what Craftyone27 said is true, then even those fancy designer brands at Shopbop.com are probably using China-made fabric, but constructing the garments in the US.

    Other beef with Jo-Ann: Too much junky junk everywhere, silly little novelty holiday items and such, and it’s all made in China for sure.

    So, all of that being said, I would love for Jo-Ann to really be more thoughtful in their fabric inventory purchases. Not everyone who sews is sewing a) a quilt, b) a costume, c) a prom dress, or d) a licensed-character fleece blanket for their nephew. And all the fabrics they do have in between those three target audiences just make me scratch my head. It’s as if, after they stocked up on the other stuff, the buyers said “Hmm, we still have shelves to fill. Oh, that lime green pleather/hot pink bottom weight/jersey knit that only comes in three ugly colors is cheap, let’s just get some of that.”

    Their choices are not robust at all. If someone comes in the store wanting to make a knit top, there should be a bolt of knit fabric in at least one shade of every color. The same goes for the other fabric types. It should look more like their prom aisle, with lots of colors, lots of choices, but in normal, stuff-people-would-actually-wear fabrics. I understand that apparently people who sew regular clothes are becoming fewer and fewer, but if you don’t provide fabric choices for those customers, then I think that makes your store just a craft store, and not fabric and crafts.

    If anyone has any good online fabric stores they would recommend, especially for fashion/apparel sewing, I would love to hear them!

    1. I love your “Not everyone is sewing… a licensed-character fleece blanket for their nephew”! Great comments all and I thank you. I must disagree with “people who sew regular clothes are becoming fewer and fewer.” That is not the case; there is much interest in sewing, so we should resolve to use our influence. One idea is to write Leonard Green (search Leonard Green and San Francisco on Google to obtain address). They will be interested in strategic moves for their new acquisition. I might also suggest a different search for fabrics made in the U.S. I just searched for “what fabrics are made in U.S.?” and got many results. Malden Mills in MA produces Polartec, for instance. You might need to embrace online purchase of fabrics, which is less local, but remember that sales taxes do contribute to services in American cities and states.

  9. Greetings all.
    I found out about the sale of Jo-Ann’s from one of my Canadian neighbors here in Calgary who routinely makes trips down into the US to JA for resonably priced fabric that one can get a discount on without having to have a membership. There is only ONE chain of fabric stores in the western part of Canada, and now that Walmart has pulled out of the fabric and notions business in most places here, no alternative to the sky rocketing prices of fabric. Imagine looking for a black calico and having to pay 12.00 a yard (metre) for it. Is that precious fabric any different than the 4-6.00 a yard stuff in the US? No!
    And no, it’s not the difference in the Canadian vs US money. We’ve been at or near parity for over a year now. It’s simply that there isn’t any direct competition here. Small quilt shops and specialty shops get also hit because folks won’t pay their prices either.
    I’m all for lower fabric prices and not having to shop three places for three different kinds of notions. As for the comments about not enough help, dirty or disorganized stores, double that reality. If you are the only fabric store chain, you don’t have to make things nice, hire nice help or even discount fabric prices, so called ‘sales’ for non members.
    Coupons are non-existent for fabric and notions here outside of Michaels.
    I wish we had coupons here! I don’t mind putting them in an envelope and attaching them where I can see them on my bulletin board.

    1. That sounds like a terrible situation! You have no recourse but to buy online. Christine Jonson has great knits available online (I’ve seen a friend’s but not bought.) Also, can you get to Vancouver? Gala Fabrics is on Granville Street, http://www.galafabrics.com/vancouver.htm. In the States, my rural family members are very upset that Wal-Mart no longer carries fabric, so they feel your pain! Thanks for your comments.

  10. Frankly, I think Jo-Ann’s carries low end fabric and the majority of their staff have no sewing experience. I have no other fabric stores near me but I only buy from Jo-Ann’s notions that I need in a pinch. Instead, I shop online for all my fabric needs…Martha Pullen Company for Heirloom and Fabric.Com for great quality fabrics. For notions I have a variety of sources: Shoppersrule.Com and Anembroideredaffair.Com. With these excellent resources, I do not need Jo-Ann’s!

    1. I’m so glad you can work around the lack of fabrics and expertise at Jo-Ann’s. I use the coupons to get notions, too. I will have a look at the sites you suggested and I hope others will too. Thanks for your comments Nancy!

  11. I live in an area with a Joanns Etc. and agree that much of the retail space is devoted to picture framing, scrap booking and toys and a large collection of seasonal home decor and greeting cards. All these things are available at the Michaels, AC Moore and Target.

    Yet Joanns offers a smaller selection of fabrics each season and many are thin and the colors are weak. But there is row upon row of polar fleece!

    If I were to make suggestions to the new owners: get rid of most of the craft supplies and concentrate on quality fabrics, notions, and patterns. Also, better lighting so we can actually see the colors when shopping for thread.

    1. We are getting so much feedback on Jo-Ann’s that I wonder if we can get it all to the new owners somehow. Lots of home decor — agreed! Lots of fleece — agreed! My “small store” is well-lit now, but it recently underwent a “renovation.” Allowing, of course, more room for home dec! Thanks for your comments.

  12. they never have enough help in the stores. they need to go back to customer friendly workers and enough to not be overworked so they have time to help the customers…

    1. Thanks for your comments Bev. Do you live in a big metropolitan area, or a smaller town where Jo-Ann’s is the only game in town? My local store is pretty well-staffed, though not always knowledgeable!

  13. I live in southcentral New Mexico, in our town, we have one quilt store and a small dept. of fabric in WalMart. Up in the mountains, there is a large fabric store, but poorly organized and very dirty. There is a JoAnn’s about 70 miles from here, but is not stocked very well, mostly crafts,etc. and a Hobby Lobby which is OK if you’re looking for basics, ie: muslin, felt, and interfacing, etc. I do about 90% of my fabric and notions purchases on line. Even though the JoAnn’s is quite a distance away, would be wonderful if the new owners turned it into a store with quality fabric instead of junk and crafts.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Elsewhere Wal-Mart no longer has fabric, so I’m glad you still have it. Where do you shop online? Do tell!

  14. I agree with most of the comments already made. Too few people know the merchandise, poor quality of quilting fabrics at quilt store prices, only one bolt of a fabric so I always have to buy extra, on and on. The worst for me is never enough people checking. Usually there is only one person working and 5 people or more trying to check out.

    I would definitely prefer to “BUY AMERICAN” but I guess that is a thing of the past.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Recently I learned — from a store employee so all caveats apply — that since Jo-Ann cannot bully the higher-quality fabric houses from accepting a 50% off coupon price, they have a limited selection. So, for instance, since Amy Butler might put a lot of design or quality into her process, she couldn’t stay in business if she accepted 50% off list price. Therefore Amy Butler fabrics will never appear in Jo-Ann stores, and probably as a consequence, we will continue to see low-end quality — and imports.

  15. I’m a little surprised that Joanns sold out as they had a near monopoly. Re: some complaints about quilting fabric at Joanns: There are a number of manufacturers that will not sell to chain stores. I also believe that there may also be issues related to selling these fabrics at a discount; also they are better than muslin grade and cost more. We do have a local small chain (Pacific Fabrics) that sells a lot of quilt fabric but I asked them about that once and was told that they qualify as a quilt shop. In general I have watched so many fabric chains (Piece Goods, So Fro, House of Fabrics, Fabricland, Clothworld) go out of business and smaller stores disappear. In Tacoma we used to have several Jo Anns, 3 Hancock Fabrics, and 2 Fabriclands. Now we are down to 1 Joann’s ETC and one Hancocks. A Pacific Fabrics is in Puyallup. There are quite a few quilt shops in the area but if you want to make fancy stuff you are rather limited. Direct competition for clothing sewn in sweat shops in many countries decimated the US garment industry. Women working more and more outside the home have less time to sew and certainly it doesn’t pay to make t shirts for kids that will outgrow them in short order–with some clothing it would cost more just to buy the fabric than it costs for the completed garment. Our US textile industry has been decimated; and there has been a dramatic decline in the home arts such as sewing that used to be taught in the schools. 4H and scouting and the like can only do so much to get people excited about sewing anything–and most of us aren’t Amish. I would guess that quilters by far make of the majority of home sewers in the USA.

    1. Hi Margaret, thanks for your comments. You must be in my area (Seattle). Have a look at the American Sewing Guild’s Seattle Web site. There is a meeting of sewers in Southcenter. Sewing is not in decline with these folks! There is actually an increase in the interest in sewing, because young people are inspired by Project Runway and are obsessed with celebrities and fashion generally. It’s interesting that Pacific Fabrics qualifies as a quilt shop since they have lovely apparel fabrics. It is my favorite local “chain” and I am grateful for them. For those outside a major metro area, it’s sad to see that even Wal-Mart has reduced its fabric corner. Thanks again, Margaret.

      1. ASG has a group in Olympia which is closer to me. I know a few members. Just got through Sew Expo and bought plenty at Vogue Fabrics and Trims on Wheels. If you like garment industry “stuff” including jeweled buttons, shirt embellishment, trims and laces, definitely check out Trims on Wheels.

  16. The store in Pasadena, CA closed February 18th, due, they said, to having lost their lease. There is one other fabric store (for dressmakers) here with lovely, inspirational, wearable art fabrics.

    I watched as Joann bought up all the competition and then systematically closed down each location. So, I had a resentment anyway. Their selection was uninspiring, overpriced, but they were close by and great to run to for notions, etc. on an emergency basis. In Los Angeles, we are fortunate to have a robust garment district and a vast selection of everything from $150/yard beaded silk to $.50 yard “Stuff.” Going downtown is a bother, but at least we have some choices. Joanns will not be missed – good riddance!

    1. Did you know that the American Sewing Guild’s national conference is this fall in Los Angeles? Lots of attendees are salivating at visiting the garment district. So you definitely have lots of other options! Thanks for your comments.

  17. I also have a love/hate relationship with Joann’s. Almost every store I got to cries out for an efficiency expert. Today, one person at the cutting counter was helping a woman with a basket full of quilt fabric. There were 4 people ahead of me. The employee kept calling for help to no avail. Meanwhile one employee was pouring over some kind of book at the “guest” desk while another one helped someone find thread. The check out line 2was 8 deep. I left! The new owners need some out-of-the-box thinking with some creative ideas to move things along. They need to put together some customer focus groups. There is a lot of junk and it always seem clean. Maybe an upscale section with higher quality merchandise. They loose a lot of business to quilt shops. Also, how about a decorator on some days of the week to help put a plan together for a room. An express line owuld be nice!! Some upscale craft classes. The growth potential is HUGE with so many people retiring early and looking for constructive things to do. I’d gladly volunteer for a focus group. Joanns has many great things going for it…but it needs some sharp minds to move it forward.

    1. Yes! Every other industry uses focus groups. It’s clear Jo-Ann’s does not bother. It must be nice to be the only game in (some) towns. Thanks for your suggestions. All seem good especially the decorator. How about one dedicated person each “busy” shift such as on the weekends, who roams around answering questions instead of stacking and ignoring customers?! Again, thanks.

  18. I read all the comments and I agree that the JoAnn Fabric Stores are not a place that I want to buy fabric. I just looked at the Banksville Fabric site and it made me sick. They have BEAUTIFUL fabrics and the prices are VERY good. I live in Corpus Christi Texas and we have nothing near. San Antonio and Houston aren`t any better so I order most of my fabric but that is a bad experience in some cases as I really need to see and feel the fabric. I really hope the new owners read your site. Somehow you need to see that they get it even f you have to print the emails and send them to Mr. Green. If I am making a suit they might have some suit fabric but then there is NOTHING to make a blouse; what do they think when they purchase colors. We don`t want the kind of stuff they carry for a top or blouse. Now that the ready to wear clothing has reached a price level that is no longer “cheap” more people are starting to sew so we need something more than what we have. I have spent the last several hours trying to find something online and that is how I found your site. I love the fabrics in Elegance Magazine but I don`t believe we have to pay THAT much to get something comparable.
    Thanks.

    1. If you are a member of ASG (American Sewing Guild) I believe some of the retailers offer a discount for receiving samples in the mail. For instance, they might send you free samples every quarter in exchange for an order of a certain amount. It is amazing, isn’t it — how sewing is enjoying a revival but small and regional fabric retailers can’t make a go of it in many areas. Best of luck, and I will have a look at Banksville Fabrics.

  19. I am so disappointed the Joanns store here, they have locks on everything, even a 4″ fussy cut ruler for $4 was locked, and you can’t find a clerk to unlock it. I finally went to the cashier and she said to take a number at the cutting counter, I was number 83, they were serving #72. I can understand locking up expensive scissors, but not $4 items. They had a flyer with flannel on sale so I went to buy some for a rag quilt for my grand daughter, they had nothing worth buying, and no childrens flannel at all. I hope this new company will make some well needed changes and get some decent fabric like Kaufman, RJR and Amy Butler.

    1. Wow, I have to assume that the store considers you are in a high-theft area. That is unfortunate. It’s hard to compare the options when you have to ask to see everything. Thanks for your comments, and I wish you had more options where you live.

  20. Any Joanns is a 20 mile trip for me. Quick math tells me the trip will be $8 in gas, so I won’t go without a coupon.
    I find the coupon game to be insulting. It’s always for 40 or 50% off a reg priced item, and when you get there, the item you want is a piddly 20% off.
    Once, I found a reg priced fabric I wanted 8 yrds of, took the bolt to the counter, and the bolt was a 3 yrd and a 2 yrd piece rolled onto one bolt. Needless to say, I only got the discount on 3 yrds of it. Hardly enough to pay for my gas there. I could have stayed home and ordered it on the internet for that price!
    They wanna play games? I can play too.
    Now, I do keep coupons in my purse, and only go if I am in the area, and if I have more than one coupon. It’s not worth my time to jump through their hoops, just to pay a reasonable price for one piece of fabric.
    and, of course, I will no longer leave my house for the sole pupose of going to Joanns!
    In fact, the last time I bought fabric, I only went out because it was near a Walmart that I had heard just began stocking fabric again, and I went to Walmart first. I spent all my money at Walmart, so Joanns missed out.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I agree that JoAnn plays a “coupon game.” Mine are never for any near time period so I have to schlep the entire flyer around in my bag. Fortunately I have many other fabric options in my area. Yes, I recently heard that WalMart is planning to stock fabrics again in “some markets.” I hope that will bring interest in sewing back to the areas that have only WalMart as options.

  21. I would love to see the coupons actually work. I cant tell you how many times I have gotten to the check out with fabric or notions for quilting only to be told that the items are not for the coupon which I have read very carefully and it never said that those items were not allowed by the coupon. that is my number one complaint. the next is the amount of fabric to other stuff. since our remodel, the fabrics have all been reduced to a small corner. I have actually called and written to the corperate offices of their bait and switch tactics with the coupons. keeping the coupons for like a week or two before i can use them is not the biggy to me buy the lack of ability to use the coupons is what is my problem.

    1. Agreed about coupons! Thanks for your comments. Are you saying there are only fabrics in the CORNER? That is insane. Isn’t the store “Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts”?!

    2. Had that happen here too… signs everywhere saying the Decor fabrics are all 60% off once… EXCEPT everytime I found a roll AMAZINGlY that roll was always the one that was not on sale… they can’t tell you the difference… all was the same company…etc… I figured it won’t a real sale

  22. very interesting reading!! I am hooked! I teach sewing and emb. for a Brother auth. dealer. same problems seem to be everywhere. I have lived overseas too and fabric is very very expensive there and hard to find. I have a student who just moved back to France…she found a store in Paris…fabric was $18 per yd. and ugly…no interfacing to be seen!!

  23. I work in a JoAnn that is 4 years old and very large. Ever since the change in ownership, the company has really taken a downhill turn. They want profit, and are now with no debt, but in the wake of that the store has suffered. No cleaning crews, store is filthy, there’s no tolite paper, towels, bags, or trash bags on and off constantly. The entire huge store is usually run at night with 3 or 4 people. Lines are long, and the guests have no one to help them and some walk out. They have big sale weekends, with no help. We are run ragged and the worst part is they turn off the airconditioning several hours before the store closes and we work at least an hour over that. It is hot and miserable for us and the morning people as well for several hours until it comes back on in the morning by 9. It is so hot here in the South, but they don’t care. Our management doesn’t get along with eachother and sometimes one just doesn’t show up or leaves early. It is so discourageing to work in this environment. This used to be such a nice clean and well run store, and I miss it. And, the pay is TERRIBLE as well. I have worked there 4 years and don’t make $8.00 an hour. We have a truck once a week and the products just sit in the back room and don’t get put out because the day people have to run the checkout stands and can’t do their work. No one seems to care. It is pathetic and sad. Because I love JoAnns and wish the company in Ohio would love it as well.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you are not happy with your newer store. I’m assuming that you don’t have many other choices in jobs where you live. I hope that you will take the time to write to the new owners of Jo-Ann’s, Leonard Green and Associates, and express the items you’ve listed on the blog. I can’t help but think that things might be a little — or a lot — disorganized since the ownership change and that they might appreciate knowing about your experience. It’s worth a try to change your work environment. OR maybe you can ask a good customer you know to write them about their concerns. Best of luck to you and thanks for the comments.

  24. Simply put, please have more than two people working the store at any one time. It is impossible to put up stock, keep the store clean and help each customer as they deserve to be helped. I always feel as if I am rushing away from one customer just to help another.

    But I won’t hold my breath. We are constantly being told we are not making budget with only two people running the store. I don’t buy that.

    And please bring back real fashion fabric. The once in a blue-moon I touch something that feels nice enough to wear, it shocks me. In the store right now, there are maybe three fashion fabrics that are nice enough to spend the time to work with.

    I love helping my customers, but I am getting burned out trying to do two people’s jobs.

    1. That sounds like a tough job! It might be that the store’s costs, such as rent, might be high and that’s why they say budget issues. I do hope things will get better — maybe they will hire for the holidays and keep on one of those folks. Thanks for your comments.

  25. Thank you for this post and all of the comments. I am doing a business analysis report for my Strategic Management class on Jo-Ann’s. I really love Jo-Ann’s more than my other crafting alternatives in the area (Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, etc), but I’m choosing the fabrics department as the issue Jo-Ann’s needs to focus on improving. Your comments really helped me understand the consumer desires for Jo-Ann’s fabrics department. Hopefully Jo-Ann’s will take note and give the people what they want (while still being able to turn a profit and compete in the industry). I think it’s a great store and I’d like to see them turn it around.

    Again, thank you!

    1. Wow, I do hope that Jo-Ann’s will listen! I wonder: How do you plan to get their attention with your report? Gleaning from readers’ comments and my own wishes, Jo-Ann’s needs to improve the thickness of their fabric and modernize the prints. They also need to hone in on customer service, though it sounds as if your report might exclude that. Good luck in your studies, and thanks for your comments!

  26. I totally agree about the quality of the fabric. i wish they would sell more usa cottons. The quality of fabric is awful. I never buy their full price fabrics. I only go to joanns when i have a good coupon 50 percent or better offer. I have been lucky with customer service at my local joanns. Hopefully with new ownership they will improve on quality of fabrics.

    1. Thanks and good luck in your search for quality cottons. Amy Butler is a good hefty quality, apparently making an influence on the manufacturers. The best way to speak up is to write Jo-Ann’s a letter. (I have to think they are glancing at blogs too). Best wishes!

  27. I live in Orange County in Southern California and have noticed my local Jo-Ann in Irvine deteriorate so much since the Green buyout that I now drive to other stooges farther away rather than suffer through shopping at the Irvine store.

    As discussed by others, the quality of the fabrics has gotten worse, but the selection is the bigger problem. When something runs out, they don’t even bother to restock it. Many shelves and bins are left empty. Fabrics, patterns, threads, ribbons, buttons, elastics, implements, etc. – good luck finding what you needs! And this is a so-called superstore! The lines at the cutting counter are agonizingly long and slow. Ditto for the checkout counters. The store is filthy, sloppy and disorganized. The employees are so downtrodden it is hard to believe they still come to work every day.

    The manager of this store needs to be fired! She is rude and utterly uninterested in improving the store. On a recent Saturday my boyfriend reluctantly accompanied me to this store to buy patterns, fabrics, and notions for a couple of projects. After searching in vain for the patterns i wanted, I moved on to the fabrics. Fortunately I have an iPad so I could go online to find out how much fabric and what notions I needed. I found a couple of fabrics that were ok and looked for the notions. That was a wasted effort because so many items are out of stock. Add to that the prospect of waiting 30 to 45 minutes to get my fabrics cut.

    Finally, we went to the cash register line with my two fabrics and none of the patterns I wanted. There was one check stand open and 16 people in line. The young man was utterly clueless about sewing or any crafts, and didn’t bother to ask for help until a number of folks in line complained to him.

    I saw the manager walk past the line and check stand and walk right out of the store! When some people said they wanted the manager to come and help, the young man said, “she just walked out and doesn’t care anyway.”

    I put down my fabrics and cutting receipt and we walked out in disgust. I now drive to other stores. Unfortunately there are not a lot of other physical stores to choose from.

    1. It sounds like such a frustrating experience for you! Thanks for contributing your comments. I hope you will take a moment now to print out your comments and put them in the mail to Jo-Ann’s at 5555 Darrow Road, Hudson, Ohio 44236. It’s important that they know the conditions in their stores. I hope you will also write back to let others in your area know which fabric stores you like!

  28. I didn’t use to hate Jo-Anns, but now, I have to hold my breath and go only as a last resort. First, I know I’ll have to wait to get fabric cut — so I always take a number as soon as I start looking, just in case I find anything. However, I usually don’t — I try not to go looking for something specific, because I’ll always be disappointed. The fashion fabric is crowded, messy and there is a very low selection, unless you’re planning to sew a prom dress or a stuffed animal. 75% of the store is other items — and I never go there, so I can’t fairly judge it, but there is a better selection of interesting fabric at Walmart than our Jo-Anns. Also, remember when they had those gorgeous samples to advertize a certain pattern or fabric? Now there are only a few and the selections are hideous, and poorly done. Now as far as service, there is none, as far as I’m concerned. I used to be able to ask for an opinion, a suggestion or a question about a project, but no more. The pressure from the crowd at the cutting counter is great, the cutters are frazzled, and there is no one else in the store. I agree with a previous post about the useless coupons, Most are for a percent off a regular priced item, but most of the “normal” fabric is 10 – 20% off so does not qualify. They are still overpriced for the quality, so there are no bargains to be had. Also, there’s usually some fine print that prevents you from using it on a notion for some reason. Now, if I do find something I have to buy, I know I’ll be silently screaming by the time I go through the cattle drive at the register. It winds through several narrow 6-foot cabinets so we all feel penned in. There are cheap candies and notions along the way — nothing of interest to look at. The cashiers are generally unfriendly, even if greeted by a friendly comment — it’s probably rare. They also answer phones and talk on intercoms while checking us out, so I’ve never felt like I was being served. Recently I bought a fabric that was 30% off. Regularly $8.99/yard, I figured 3 yards would come to about $19, but when I got to the checkout it was $22! I protested, and she insisted that it was correct. I insisted, so she called the cutter on the intercom to check the regular price, which was, indeed $8.99 and so she said, well, you got it for $6.99/yard, so it’s correct. I insisted that 30% of $8.99 would be $6.29. Everything is done by computer, so she had to pull out a calculator. She called the manager, so suggested giving me a 50% off coupon. Whoa! I was thinking — something has improved here! Maybe they are going to focus on customer service, however, the cash register wouldn’t let the cashier do that because it wasn’t a regular priced item, so she did an override, and I got it at the $6.29/yard. There was no apology, no acknowledgement that they had made a mistake AND fought me on it — and no additional discount, so I left with my usual attitude 😦 I always say I’ll never go back, but sometimes I get desperate.

  29. I went into a Joanne’s and was the only person in the store. Had to go find someone to cut a length of lace. She asked if I took a number…. I’m the only one in the store. I did not take a number as she was standing in front of me…. I’m the only one in the store. She put down her scissors… walked over to take a number for me, went to the otherside of the counter to call my number… then came to wait on me. I’m the only one in the store. Absurb. Asked the cashier what was up with the numbers and was told customers had to be ‘trained’. Trained me right into the competition. Lost customer.

    1. Wow, that sounds frustrating. It sounds as if she forgot that you were a human being in need of service at a store! I’m glad you have competition though — I hear from many others who don’t. Thanks for your comment.

    2. sounds about like the Joanns where I live. Most of the people there are not nice, not helpful and down right unfriendly

      1. I’ve never understood unfriendly people in stores. If you’re going to work, you might as well be pleasant about it. I’m sorry that it’s not great work, and I think some people come in expecting the staff to be able to teach how to sew. Thanks for your comments.

  30. I’ve never been very impressed with Joanns. (at least the one in my area) Yrs ago it was great and they had a variety of stuff… but over the past 10 yrs and more it’s gone way down hill and become more of a craft shop. IF I’m going to make something, clothing, etc…I just do not want to use a cheaper grade fabric..only to have it fade and not hold up well… Most of what I’ve ever gotten there didnt hold up well, With the exception of the Waverly decor fabrics, I’ve always been pleased with them,,, but even there there is not a great deal of selection… The draper lining fabric mostly all looks like seconds,,,, Once you are half way across the fabric it starts to run at a sharp angle… Line your drapes with that stuff and first time they are cleaned, the lining twists,,,and you got a mess. BEEN THERE DONE THAT… I wish we had some REAL fabric stores…

    1. Hi Betty, I didn’t know that about the drapery lining. Does it help to make sure it’s cut along the grain? I think linings are very loosely woven, so it’s possible they could be off from the roll. So sorry that you don’t have choices other than JoAnn — we seamstresses want quality! Thanks for your comments.

  31. three years later and our Joann’s has gotten worse and worse. Fewer fabrics and they are scrunched into smaller spaces. No place to stand to shop. All the notions have disappeared, so if I need something it is not there. The filth of the store is only slightly better, if at all. And all the candy, gum and cheap goods at the checkout does not make up for the interminable wait because the checkout machines don’t work. Apparently they were bought by a company that doesn’t give a darn how they are run, only whether we are forced to shop there. Thank god for online.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that’s your local experience too. I was hoping that with new ownership — albeit a conglomerate — JoAnn’s would listen to its sewing customers instead of its crafting customers. But it’s been quite a while and I see no change of real estate devoted to garment sewing. And, assuming for a moment that JoAnn’s is drawing quilters, the so-called quilting cottons are such poor quality once the sizing is washed out that quilters past the beginning stage will move on to better sources.

  32. I recently had a terrible experience with the only silk they carry in the store. I needed some Dupioni in a hurry for a wedding dress and I don’t have any other apparel fabric stores in my area. The Dupioni is stored folded on the bolt like the rest of the bridal fabrics and I noticed the crease down the center but figured that with professional steaming from the dry cleaners it should come out. Nope. The crease was permanent. I had to change the design of the dress to avoid the crease so it was a big headache. I sent an email to Joann’s but I don’t think that portion of the site was working because I never received a confirmation or email in response. I also brought a swatch in to the store to show a manager but they said it came from the factory that way. I hope in the future they will store it on a roll like the upostery fabrics. It makes no sense to charge $25 per yard for low quality silk and to not store it properly.

  33. I have shopped at the several permutations of JoAnn Fabrics (and Crafts) since the 1970s, when it was just a fabric store. There was a time when the quality of the fabrics was unsurpassed. As I moved around the USA with the USN, I discovered that JoAnn’s changed with locations and with the decades. When the stores were small, you got personalized service and value for the dollar spent–especially with their sales flyers. Now, the merchandise is shoddy and all but 1/6 of the store is either toys, teacher stuff, and crafts or Viking Huskvarna owns an aisle or two. Theft occurs regularly, and little is done to prevent it. It’s almost as if the owners WANT to go belly-up. I was mugged while knitting on the bench outside our local store (whose only competition is a Hancock Fabrics about 3 miles away) and found that their cameras aren’t even on.

    1. I completely agree with your assessment of the selection. Every store has a manager, and the positive and supportive attitude of that manager (despite lack of control over the merchandise) can determine the mood of the store. I’m so sorry to hear about your traumatic experience at JoAnn’s. Shopping should be safe, at least! Thanks for writing in.

  34. Am I the only one to complain about Joann’s salvage edge of their branded fabrics. Their logo takes up 1″ of fabric at the edge of a lot of woven fabrics. It has mess up my fabric calculations more than once. It’s unfair to the consumer a 45″ piece of fabric is actually 44″ wide.

    1. Though frustrating, this is common from all vendors. Fabric width has varied from 42″ to 44″ over the decades. Similarly, home dec fabric can vary from 54″ to 60″ wide. (But this might be an option if you’re having difficulty getting a full width.) There’s also shrinkage to account for, which varies depending on weave and fabric content. There are not that many manufacturers of textiles that are available to stores that cater to the home sewing market as there were in previous decades. A regional chain in my area complains about the dwindling numbers of facilities, whose main revenue is the the fashion/ready-to-wear market, that will also sell to the fabric stores. Thanks for your comment, as I’m sure others would rather have the full 45″ width!

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