Crafters' Resource: Jo-Ann Fabrics holds its grand opening todayv

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2003

Juneau crafters roamed the aisles of Jo-Ann Fabrics this morning, caressing fabrics, browsing sewing patterns and chatting with other shoppers about their new projects.

"I'm on a new high-fiber diet," joked Caroll Douglas, a home economist who was checking out the wide variety of fabrics available at the store's grand opening celebration today. "All of these fibers - cotton, linen, wool - they really make you feel good."

Jo-Ann Fabrics opened last Friday, but held its grand opening today. The store offered coupons for 50 percent off one purchase and door prizes of a sewing machine, a sticker maker and a $500 gift certificate, said Mischelle Pennoyer, the store's general manager.

Pennoyer and other Jo-Ann employees have been working since mid-January to stock the 20,000-square-foot retail area with supplies for crafts.

"It's bright and happy and it's a good sensory experience," she said. "There are no dark spots in the store, it smells good, and it's fun to touch and to look at."

Sale signs today in almost every section lured shoppers into trying new crafts, redecorating their homes or finishing old projects.

"I'm into scrapbooking and quilting," said Sheri Jacobsen, who was visiting the store for the third time. She waited until today to use her coupon to buy a $100 scrapbooking supply carrying case for $50.

Though other stores in town carry many of the same scrapbooking supplies as Jo-Ann Fabrics, "I think the sales are going to be an advantage here," Jacobsen said.

Juneau crafters welcomed the additional craft supply outlet, but other craft store owners worried about the competition.

Linda Lane, owner of Craft Carousel, said she plans to do whatever she can to stay open, but added it will be tough.

Jo-Ann Fabrics is "going to affect several stores that have been here for a long time," Lane said. "I think that's kind of sad, but we need the fabrics, so I'm glad they're here for the fabric aspect. ... So I welcome them, but I just don't know what I'm going to do."

Lane has visited Jo-Ann Fabrics and plans to order some supplies Jo-Ann Fabrics doesn't carry, and plans to put some of her items on sale to be more competitive with Jo-Ann's regular prices.

"Their sale prices are what I can't compete with," she said.

German immigrants Hilda and Berthold Reich and Sigmund and Mathilda Rohrbach opened the first Jo-Ann Fabrics in 1943 in Cleveland, Ohio. That store is now one of nearly 1,000 Jo-Ann Fabrics stores nationwide.

Along with the Juneau store, Jo-Ann Stores Inc. opened stores in Littleton, Colo., and Lansing, Mich., last Friday, said Pennoyer. The three stores are part of a new format for the company that allows it to supply the stores with the same inventory on a regular schedule.

"If you have the same assortment available in all of the stores, the replenishment of the assortment is much more efficient," said Pennoyer.

The disadvantage is that the Juneau Jo-Ann Fabrics won't be able to cater as well to the tastes of local residents, Pennoyer said. The advantage is having a larger variety of products, she said.

All of Jo-Ann Fabrics' 25 to 30 part-time and five full-time employees, including the four managers, are from Juneau, Pennoyer said.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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