End of pandemic leads to increased sales for Connecticut’s sewing and craft supply stores


Liz Diker has only had her A Stitch In Time store since December, but she doesn’t need to see 2020 sales figures for sewing supplies giant JoAnn to know that the pandemic has sparked considerable new interest in them. needlework.

His Bethel store is as busy as it gets, calling for receipts and responding to course inquiries.

She also doesn’t see it easing anytime soon, as more Connecticut residents make appointments in the weeks and months to come for the vaccine needle, but remain hooked and hooked. other manual work.

With sales booming during the COVID-19 pandemic at its 800 stores – including 10 locations in Connecticut – the parent company of JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts filed an initial public offering of shares this week seeking up to 400 million. dollars of new capital.

Since last March, JoAnn has hired 4,000 people nationwide to help meet demand, averaging five extra pairs of hands for each store.

“There has definitely been an increase in embroidery and thread stores,” Diker said. “People come in saying, ‘I haven’t done this in 35 years and I’m no longer at home.’ … And a lot of people coming in say, “I want to learn. “

JoAnn’s IPO filing gave numbers on the trend, with revenue up 24% to $ 1.9 billion for its fiscal year ending last November. This does not include the bolts of cloth he donated during the pandemic to a cottage industry of people who JoAnn estimates have made more than 350 million face masks to donate to their communities, as well as other protective clothing such as scrubs.

Many more people are selling them at a profit – a search this week for the term “face mask” on the Etsy craft e-commerce website returned over 1.8 million results.

“We have certainly seen an increase in sales of fabrics, supplies and sewing machines during the pandemic, [starting] with people needing supplies to make masks and materials to make them, ”said Paul Gattinella, whose family owns the Close to Home sewing supply chain with locations in Glastonbury, Orange and Southington. “We sold a lot of fabrics, stabilizers, elastics, cutting tools and sewing machines during this time.

“Many suppliers ran out of material, so it was difficult for us to get inventory,” Gattinella added. “There is still a backlog of some sewing machines and other products. Sewing machine repairs have also been very important, as people who have machines take them out and try to use them, or use them. [their] machine much more than they usually do.

At Jean’s Closet on Washington Street in Norwalk, appointments for crochet classes tended to drop during the pandemic as many were reluctant to participate in activities outside the home, according to owner Jean Smith. But she said business was otherwise stable and has even better expectations as warmer weather returns. She recently signed a lease renewal for a fourth year at SoNo.

“I have a lot of people coming to me to educate me about the courses,” Smith said. “The interest is there – and sales have been pretty good.”

Diker believes the investment in time and money will not diminish with the return of other hobbies people put aside during the pandemic.

“Embroidery is really painting with thread, that’s how my artist daughter puts it,” Diker said. “I learned to crochet with my mother and I learned to knit with my sister. … I’m on a bunch of Facebook groups and you’ll see, “My mom did this to me 45 years ago and now my grandson wears it. It’s that sort of thing – keeping things alive, especially now. “

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman


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