Sunday, December 4, 2011

A JUNK Store that just happens to sell fabric is coming to my town

Early in November my DH and I were in the shopping center where the Books A Million Store had closed earlier in the year.   I saw a sign on the front of empty space that a JoAnn Fabrics store would be opening in that space.    The Asheville Citizen Times newspaper reported it in the business section.

Why would I want or need another big box chain store that sells cheesy cheap fabric from China with a reputation (read the many reviews/comments posted on the internet) for paying their employees a pittance - no wonder you don't even have to know how to sew to work there, and for lousy customer service?     To me it's no different than WalMart (where I also don't shop) coming in causing local businesses to close because they can't compete with the cheap prices.   I haven't shopped at a JoAnn Fabrics store in probably a dozen years except to get some Christmas ribbon while in Florida visiting my sister and mother.   Quality products, great customer service, and business ethics mean more to me than a big store filled with stuff.

What gives a town like Asheville it's charm are all the local businesses, old and new, who have great products and great customer service!   Asheville has two enduring, independent fashion fabric stores (as opposed to the quilt shops that dot the area).   The House of Fabrics on Merrimon Avenue has been in business for many years under the same family.   The owner sews all her own clothes and so do the staff.   Customer service is exceptional, everyone is friendly and are expert seamstresses.   They sell Viking machines and fine quality, beautifully coordinated fashion fabrics at a reasonable cost.    The other local fabric store, Waechter's,  is an Asheville institution that goes back to the Vanderbilts.  It has changed owners several times since.

We also have a Hancocks Fabric chain store here that is a real fabric/notions store vs a junk craft store that happens to sell some fabric.   The ladies who work there are very knowledgable, know how to sew and are friendly, always remembering who you are, even if you don't go there often.    I buy notions, buttons and thread and some patterns there because the quality of most of their fabrics is not what I want to spend my time and effort sewing.   

I'm getting out more these days, and wear my designs everywhere I go around town.  When women find out that I made them,  I am always asked if I bought the fabric from Waechter's.   I respond yes or no depending on where I got the fabric of what I am wearing.   I belong to local women's organizations and shop/eat exclusively at local businesses where we know the owners, their families and employees.   I don't start the conversation, but many, whose families have lived here for generations,  have told me that since the change in ownership they didn't feel welcome after going in and spending big bucks for fabrics or buttons (compared to other stores) so they haven't gone back.    After getting the cold shoulder myself too many times, despite being a great customer,  I haven't been back to that store in over a year.   I don't go where I'm not wanted, brick and morter or web based,  and I don't spend my money at any business where my patronage is not appreciated and me and my friends are not respected.   That they never cared what was going on with me health-wise, nor ever inquired about why or how I was doing after so many months speaks volumes.   

For fine fabrics I shop independent fabric businesses all over the country via the internet or at sewing expos and events.   I spend my money on quality I know I can trust from businesses who treat me well and appreciate my patronage.   For fine Italian fabrics I depend on Michael's Fabrics in Baltimore who sends me swatches and actually cares about how I'm doing health-wise.    Since I have to go to Johns Hopkins periodically,  I try to stop in and shop in person.   Given the one local fabric store's attitude toward me over the past few years,  and their inflated prices,  why should I go out of my way to buy fabric from them when I can buy the same pattern/color/fabric and many more coordinates from other independent fabric sellers like Fabric Mart in PA for much less?   I have been a customer of Fabric Mart since I lived in MD.    They sell high quality products at reasonable prices and treat me well.   As a result I have bought many lovely, quality fabrics from them.      

Bottom line, I don't intend to patronize this JoAnn Fabrics store because I don't need to and don't care to.  Their reputation, the bait and switch advertising, and all their coupon baloney turns me off.   Their wages are cheap, their fabric is cheap and their prices for notions are inflated so you think you are getting a "deal" when they play the game of discounting them when only you have a coupon or sale flyer.   I'll continue to go to Hancocks, and shop the Asheville House of Fabrics and my TNT internet fabric sellers that meet all my sewing needs.     


  1. Hi, I've been lurking in your blog for a couple of months and have found such inspiration here. Although I learned to sew when I was about 5 and made most of my own clothes thru my 20s, life got in the way! I just recently started sewing clothing again for pleasure and enjoy it as much as ever.

    I have to tell you that I agree with this post! The Hancock's in my town is probably not as nice as yours but it and Joann's are all there is! I've always wanted to touch the fabric. I'm planning a few weekend trips to places that I know have nice local shops, but any advice on buying fabric on the Internet?


  2. Terry -- call Michael's Fabrics in Baltimore and ask them to send you swatches. They're free. They are having a big sale right now and some of the cotton shirtings (see my shirt-dress in the pink/gray stripe from last June) are great quality and less than $10 a yard. Their wools are the best as well and come from designer workrooms that sew garments costing thousands of dollars each.

  3. I definitely agree with you concerning the new big box store coming to Asheville. Thanks for the mention of the Asheville House of Fabrics. I hope to stop by the next time I'm in Asheville.

    Glad to hear you are getting out more. Hope things continue to improve. Take care.

  4. We had a JoAnn Fabrics at one time and I really do wish they were still here. I have a choice of Hobby Lobby (very little in the way of fabric choices), Wal-mart (only if I go into the next town), Hancock Fabrics (where I get most of my fabric), and quilting stores. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. I miss JoAnn's. :(

  5. To each their own. Joanns has also put local Viking dealers out of business, which is what our House of Fabrics also is. I hope that doesn't happen.

  6. Hi Terri - hope all is well with you - I've not see any postings since this on the 4th. Happt Holidays