Joann on Thursday opened a new concept store in Columbus, Ohio, which the crafts retailer said in a press release features "cutting-edge technology, dedicated community and learning spaces and new custom services." Tech includes special-order kiosks and live online streams of in-store classes.
After a surge in Pinterest searches for DIY personalized T-shirts ("birthday shirts" saves rose 250% last year), the retailer developed an area for customers to make custom shirts using cutting machines and various materials and accessories. A new Creators' Studio is a large open community space for classes, events and renting machines to work on projects inspired by the latest Pinterest trends (while enjoying a cup of coffee), the company said in an e-mail to Retail Dive.
The store has an expanded assortment including a Sewing Studio with new brands and machines, hobby options like model kits and candle-making supplies, and fine arts materials, with new concierge services including a custom sewing service called "Sew & Go," "Personal Shopper," one-on-one guidance on projects and dedicated JOANN+ services for pros who make and buy at scale.
With a massive fleet and an increasing number of shoppers moving online, Joann appears to be branching out from a retail strategy that had mostly succeeded for 75 years.
The fabric and craft retailer now runs more than 865 stores across 49 states, along with its e-commerce site, and all those locations provide the retailer with ample opportunity to connect with its customers.
"Research resoundingly showed our stores have naturally evolved to become much more than a place to buy things," CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement. "Customers come in to find inspiration, learn from our team members and share creative experiences with others."
The Columbus location is quite a departure from the Joann store most people encounter, where aisles are stuffed with supplies. Signage has been enlarged, updated and considerably brightened up, and the store's yarn area, for one example, has been amplified with an attractive array of fibers surrounding a project table. The company said it will continue to test and gather feedback on the new store and services, and begin to strategically integrate successful elements into other stores, though it gave no sense of timing.
The move to attract makers and businesses follows Joann's rebranding effort as well as the acquisition of Creativebug, subscription-based provider of online how-to crafting videos, last year.
Last summer the retailer also rolled out a new mobile app, which Joann described then as an "industry-first tool that enables users to publish their own projects with photos, videos and even music," as well as shop for supplies, find and share project ideas and redeem mobile coupons.