JOANN is hoping their new concept store in Columbus, Ohio will leave guest inspired to tackle their crafty vision boards one project at a time. The grand opening unveiled their new store, with a Creator’s Studio inside, signaling a new direction for the company, one of the largest craft retail chains in the nation. JOANN currently has over 850 stores in the United States.
The new JOANN concept store has many of the same products and notions that have been used in sewing and crafting for centuries, but here the store is embracing technology and trends in a big way with the hopes of bringing the tech-savvy, digital-first DIY community into the store for a special experience.
Renovations started in October of 2017 transforming this 40,117 square foot store into something that’s unlike any JOANN’s I’ve ever stepped into. Greeting me at the door is a personal shopper who reminds me that complimentary Starbucks’s is available all day. The smell of freshly baked cookies permeates the space (these are available on weekends and during special events) creating a homey atmosphere.
The store is a visually pleasing space worthy of selfies. On the back wall skeins of yarn go from floor to ceiling. The scrapbooking section is decorated with paper masks crafted by a Cleveland artist. Signage in the store has been minimalized and replaced with bright vivid images of project trends that inspire. Essentials like adhesives and scissors are attractively displayed along circular units, rather than long aisles, that are more easily shoppable. In comparisons to a JOANN’s of the same size, there’s a decrease in overall selection and inventory with more space devoted to community and more tables to spread out projects. The seasonal merchandise, candy, and impulse items typically found near the register at JOANN stores weren’t available.
Located in the heart of the store is the Creator’s Studio, a community-driven classroom and event space. It’s sleek and modern and is the type of creative studio you’ve been dreaming of if you’ve ever dreamed of working in a big city remodeled loft. This space can be rented for private parties with seating up to 50. Day to day it’s used for in-store workshops and social gatherings and is open to anyone needing to spread out with their works-in-progress. You can also access the newest of creative technologies ranging from a Grace long-arm quilting machine, a Cricut Maker, and a Glowforge laser printer. Sign up for a class to learn to use these machines or insert a thumb drive with a file you crafted at home and rent the machines for an hourly fee.
JOANN recently acquired Creativebug, an online class company with DIY tutorials, and the Creator’s Studio houses two flat screen TV’s where in-store customers can watch classes and then practice in real life. Customers will be able to surf Creativebug’s website and find how-to videos to watch.
The Creator’s Studio will also play host to a handful of Handmade Markets, where local Ohio makers will be able to sell their wares during normal shopping hours (JOANN will not take a cut of the sales. 100% of earnings will go directly to the makers.) JOANN is using the Creator’s Studio to market its JOANN+ program launched earlier this year which offers businesses and organizations bulk purchasing and discount pricing.
There are kiosks throughout the store displaying Pinterest-inspired craft projects to provide shoppers with inspiration. Samples of finished projects along with take-home instructional sheets and a supply lists are also provided. If you’re uncertain as to which craft is right for you try taking the digital personality quiz which syncs you to a computer-generated craft trend.
For the fabric minded shoppers there’s a newly designed “cut bar.” Instead of waiting in line at the cutting counter, enter your name on a touch-screen device. You’ll be added to a digital queue and get a notification on your phone when your fabric is ready.
For projects that are just beyond the scope of the average crafter, like custom tailoring or upholstery, there’s a new Sew & Go area. From zipper repair to large home dec projects, hire an in-store seamstress right at JOANN to fulfill your requests.
It’s hard to predict is whether the JOANN staff will be able to keep up with the new technology and whether JOANN customers will actually use it. Amanda Hayes, Manager of Corporate Communications at JOANN says the company is working on it. “We’ve recently held trainings at our corporate office for Store Managers to receive in-depth learnings on new machines and other product technology. They then take that knowledge back to their stores in the field and train their teams on the functions, so that all customer questions can be accurately addressed. In addition, we’ve launched a customer feedback program through a platform called Medallia, in which we receive customer comments in real time so that our store teams, as well as field leaders, can respond to customers instantaneously and take action as needed. “
JOANN is making a clear effort to reimagine the in-store experience by creating a visually pleasing, highly engaging, and more efficient concept store to try new ideas. Although it’s not clear yet how successful this new JOANN model will be, the people who were shopping around me were very excited about what they were seeing.