A.C. Moore Arts and Crafts is speeding up digital efforts with investments (of undisclosed amounts) in two e-commerce ventures — online crafts supplies retailer Blitsy and handcraft marketplace Zibbet, A.C. Moore parent Nicole Crafts announced on Monday.
The retailer is acquiring Blitsy, which will operate largely as an independent subsidiary of Nicole Crafts and remain based in Chicago, escalating its business strategy through A.C. Moore's infrastructure and scale, according to a company press release.
And the retailer has also secured an exclusive partnership as part of a major investment in Zibbet, which scores high among makers as an alternative to Etsy, in part because it has hewn more closely to an independent, authentic handmade ethos compared to Etsy and Handmade at Amazon, which feature many corporate sellers.
Amid stiff competition in the arts and crafts and makers spaces, A.C. Moore is on a bit of a tear. In addition to the investments into not just one but two online businesses, the company told Retail Dive in an email that it’s expecting 10% growth in 2018 and will enter new markets "including urban and West Coast locations."
Founded in Moorestown, N.J. in 1985, A.C. Moore is largely a brick-and-mortar retailer with some 135 stores in suburban mall locations mostly in the Eastern U.S. from Maine to Florida. The company in April opened a massive 27,000-square-foot flagship in downtown Philadelphia, its first urban location, and sales there so far have exceeded expectations by 10%, the company said in an email.
"A.C. Moore is entering a period of unprecedented growth," Anthony Piperno, A.C. Moore owner and chief marketing and merchandising officer, said in a statement about the e-commerce acquisitions. "These dynamic additions to our company can rapidly accelerate adoption of our proprietary product across a global audience of creative consumers and position our family as industry leaders among arts and crafts enthusiasts everywhere."
Blitsy co-founder and CEO Ross Petersen said in a statement Monday that entering A.C. Moore’s stable provides both companies with "a huge opportunity to utilize each other's strengths and move faster toward our vision of delivering a truly rewarding and holistic experience to customers, teammates, and brand partners."
Similarly, Zibbet founder and CEO Jonathan Peacock said he is "very excited for what we will achieve through our partnership with A.C. Moore... This is great news for the industry as a whole."
The company’s biggest challenge will be to break through the juggernaut created by Etsy and now Handmade at Amazon. While Etsy has come under fire for the watering down of its maker stance and high operating costs, it’s in the midst of a turnaround that is gaining traction and provides key tools for its sellers. Amazon, meanwhile, has massive reach and a major source of financial backup thanks to its lucrative cloud services unit.