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JOANN Shoppers Fear Drastic Changes Amid Bankruptcy: "I Refuse to Go to Hobby Lobby"

Some worry the beloved craft store's financial woes could make it harder to shop there.

It's no secret that the retail industry has been struggling in recent years as customer habits change. Even some of the most recognizable names are trying to navigate financial hardships, while others have been forced to close down entirely. This can be especially hard for people who are devoted supporters of certain stores. And now, JOANN shoppers are saying they fear there will be drastic changes after the company declared bankruptcy. Read on to see why there's concern and what the future could hold for the retailer.

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JOANN is the latest major retailer to file for bankruptcy.

United States legal documents focused on Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Over the past few years, it's become more common to see even some of the most beloved stores slip into hard times. The latest is popular craft supplier JOANN, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 18, The Washington Post reports.

The eight-decade-old retailer says it has no plans to close any of the 829 stores it currently operates across the U.S. and will continue to operate its website. In its announcement, the company said it had been able to secure $132 million in funds to help pay off at least half of its ballooning debt, CNN reports.

Despite a brief bump in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, some experts say the development isn't surprising, given the retailer's steady decline in sales.

"Weakening store standards and declining customer service levels, partly because of staffing cuts, have made stores less desirable," Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData, told The Post. "And a desire for lower prices has driven some shoppers to alternatives like Hobby Lobby."

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Some customers worry the market could become pricier for people who like to craft.

joann fabrics shopping carts lined up outside store
melissamn / Shutterstock

While JOANN's announcement shared a relatively positive outlook on its store footprint, not everyone is convinced that change isn't still on the horizon. In a video posted on March 5, TikTok user @SeaTrick predicts that the company declaring bankruptcy wouldn't necessarily translate into locations shuttering—but could result in it eventually getting purchased by a competitor.

They explain that art supply store Michaels has a track record of buying up competitors who are showing signs of struggling, including the defunct Hancock Fabrics, where the creator used to work. However, history shows the store is more likely to let any brand they acquire founder rather than resurrect it.

"Michaels has a very bad habit of purchasing companies like this—one of them being a smaller chain of craft stores that was tied to the manufacturing label Darice," they explain. "Darice was a very affordable craft supplier for a lot of people, and Michael's purchased them and then just let the whole thing die. There was no more of that craft line, and there was no more Darice. And that screwed over a lot of crafters. That's right! Michaels isn't the good guy."

They warn that if the existing fabric retailer is acquired, it could make supplies less accessible. "I don't anticipate these new fabric stores being much better than JOANN," they warn. "I think their prices are going to be sky-high, particularly because they have almost no competition outside of Walmart and Hobby Lobby."

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An acquisition could also affect product quality and the overall experience.

fabric at joanns store
ZikG / Shutterstock

In addition to spiking costs, @SeaTrick also explains that there could also be a noticeable change in what's available for purchase due to the drop in competition.

"I do not think that the quality is going to be very good," they predict.

Even though @SeaTrick admits they "do not personally like JOANN," they acknowledge that the store is "the only brick-and-mortar supplier of fabric and notions for a lot of people around the country." And even though there are still online options for materials, "brick-and-mortar is still a very essential part to it, in my opinion," they add.

However, they still predicted that even a Michaels takeover isn't a foregone conclusion. "I'm not entirely sure Michaels is particularly stable, either," they said in the video. "Again, I think a lot of these brick-and-mortar, big corporate, big chain places are really struggling." They point out that more shoppers are heading online for better deals.

Other shoppers admitted they were concerned they would have to shop elsewhere.

Exterior view of Jo Ann Fabrics and Crafts store.
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Commenters' reactions to the video show that some JOANN shoppers are already worried they will need to rely on other stores for their supplies.

"I just got a [JOANN] close to me," one user replied. "I swear…I refuse to go to Hobby Lobby for embroidery supplies!"

Another user with personal involvement agreed that the change wouldn't bode well. "As a previous [JOANN] worker, I am so sad," they wrote. "It's only them or Hobby Lobby in my area, and I can't support Hobby Lobby."

Others added that the potential replacement would likely fall short of their needs. "I need [JOANN]," one user wrote. "Michaels is overpriced and does not have the selection," they said, adding that they "need to see and feel fabric before buying."

Another user who said they were a former Michaels employee admitted they were still surprised with the potential outcome. "I thought Michaels was gonna go before [JOANN]," they replied. "They won't be far behind, though."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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