Michaels recently announced a transformation of two of their stores in an effort to “re-imagine the optimal maker shopping experience.” Eager to see what this might entail and since the newly designed stores are near my home, I donned a mask and made a visit to the store in Plano, a north suburb of Dallas. Michaels is America’s largest arts and crafts retail chain and is based in Irving (near Dallas).
My first impression is that the store has a wonderful new look and feel, yet still feels like Michaels— in a good way. I’d read the press release so I knew the new elements they’d focused on and I could easily pick out the notable changes.
It feels more open, fresher, and brighter. It’s more welcoming for a leisurely browse. It’s more organized and less cluttered. The press release highlights “lower fixturing that allows customers to easily view and navigate our full store.” It really does! Tall aisles and shelving have been moved to the edges leaving the center part of the store more open.
The entry area.
The yarn corner.
The maker space
One addition to this Michaels is a Maker Space. The one I visited was outfitted with a big screen tv playing craft tutorials near a long table. There were no chairs or people in the space, possibly due to social distancing requirements.
The Marker Space also has a sink and a rolling cart with supplies and tools. (Maybe the supplies and tools are free to use? I couldn’t tell.) There is a bank of lockers for pickup of online orders, a convenient option allowing for a contact-free transaction. For a business owner sourcing supplies, the locker pick-up may be an especially efficient option.
The table in the Maker Space
The new design also includes “trend hubs.” Ceiling hung grids mark the spaces. Focused lighting and accessible display cases invite shoppers to browse. I counted four of these “trend hubs.” One focused on art with stacks of blank canvases, paint, and markers. The other three were full of Halloween and fall decor. Since there was additional fall decor throughout the store, it seemed like a missed opportunity to put other product lines in some of the “trend hubs.”
I spoke with a Michaels employee about the changes and she said it took a while to get used to, but customers and employees like the feel of the new design. She said some of the product inventory lines have changed. In some departments where they used to carry several options for the same product, now they only have the best selling option. But in other departments, they are carrying more products including more sewing machines and high-tech products. She said if you’re looking for products no-longer available in the newly-redesigned Michaels, you can still find them at the other stores in the Dallas area.
I often browse books and magazines at Michaels but they aren’t included in the new design. Frankly, since I rarely actually purchased books or magazines and, like many crafters, I get most of my ideas online, maybe it’s not surprising they’ve been removed.
It will be interesting to see how some or all of the redesign may be incorporated into other locations. Though I’d give the redesign overall positive marks, I don’t plan to go back. For many reasons, including the pandemic, I’m shopping less at brick-and-mortar. If I really needed something, I’d go to a Michaels closer to my home. If I wanted an inspiring experience browsing a fresh space with beautiful displays, I can think of other preferable options.