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5 Warnings to Shoppers From Former Jo-Ann Fabrics Employees

Read this advice before heading to your favorite craft store.

If you're a crafter, you've more than likely shopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics. The store was founded in 1943 with one location, and today is a household name with roughly 850 stores in 49 states. Whether you're searching for the perfect material to make a dress or want to change up your home decor with a DIY project, it's the perfect place for all your fabric and creative needs. But before you start perusing Pinterest for sewing and knitting ideas, you might want to know what insiders really think about the retailer. Read on to discover warnings from former employees—from return snafus to how the staff is actually trained.

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Don't return your already used fabric.

joann fabric and craft store
James R Poston / Shutterstock

If you want to stay in the good graces of Jo-Ann, don't use fabric and then try to return it. You probably won't be allowed to, but just the attempt could lead to an awkward encounter.

"I remember we had certain customers that would buy really expensive fabric, use it for party decorations, and then return it!!" wrote former employee mitchell213 on Reddit. "I enjoyed it when I could tell them no."

Of course, if the fabric is unused and doesn't fit your project, you can easily return it.

Make sure your merchandise isn't damaged.

yarn at joann fabrics store
Colleen Michaels / Shutterstock

While it's best not to return damaged or used goods, if you have a receipt, you can usually get away with it. But what you might not know is that this merchandise can then be re-sold.

"Joann also has a policy that allows people to buy damaged merchandise for 75 percent off," shares former employee @michelesews88 on TikTok. Once an item (it could even be an expensive cutting machine, like is mentioned in the video) is returned and left worse for wear, it can be put back on the floor at a steep discount. But sometimes, these items don't get the discount they deserve. If you're putting a big purchase in your basket, make sure that it looks perfect before you check out just in case.

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The employees aren't always immediately trained.

joanns fabric sign
rchat / Shutterstock

If you're looking to get into sewing and need specific advice, you might be better off Googling. TikTok user @pinkpeachfairy made a video about her experience working there with the caption "Worst Job EVER." She detailed how she didn't receive much training and therefore couldn't always answer customer questions quickly.

TikTokker @lady_goodman6 commented on the video: "The no training is accurate! ive been with them for 8 years, so glad to see [this] is company wide and not just our store!" And yet another former employee, this time a manager, also commented that this is often the case.

The employees also don't always know how to sew.

fabric at joanns store
ZikG / Shutterstock

If you have a sewing question, unfortunately, the employee in charge might not know the answer. Want to figure out how much fabric you need for a Halloween costume? Need to reupholster your sofa? You'll probably want to research beforehand.

"People come in and expect every employee to know everything about sewing along with every other kind of craft imaginable. While it is preferred that employees have some knowledge pertaining to some kind of craft, it is not required," explains Redditor mitchell213. They note that many employees are recent high school graduates who don't have knowledge of things like how many inches are in a yard.

In addition, mitchell213 emphasizes that, while employees are happy to help to an extent, Jo-Ann is a retail store, not a specialty store. "Another thing people love to ask for is free sewing advice for literally entire projects or how to do certain complicated things. I often know what they're talking about, but again that's not what I'm paid for. I have spent years learning sewing techniques and skills, paid money for schooling, so no, I am not giving you free sewing advice for a minimum wage RETAIL position."

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There's a coupon trick you might not know about.

joanns app on a phone
OpturaDesign / Shutterstock

While other stores have consistent sales, it's not as easy to know when your favorite fabric will be discounted at Jo-Ann. However, you can always just ask a store associate. "On our little device things that tell us the price of things, it tells us when it's going on sale," says TikTok user and former employee She also advises shoppers always to stack their coupons, including all those that they find online, on the app, or from newspaper mailers.

But perhaps the savviest coupon trick comes from the Krazy Coupon Lady, who explains that coupons for a single item cannot be used on products that are already marked down. Coupons that apply to your entire purchase, on the other hand, do apply to sale items. So, if yarn is marked down 30 percent, you can't also use a coupon for 40 percent off one item. But if you have a coupon that gives you 20 percent off your whole purchase, you'll receive both promotions on the yarn.

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