Last week, I went to a brand new Jo-Ann Fabrics to find fabric to complete a project and I was pleasantly surprised. This was one of the new "large-format" stores that Leigh-Anne Dennison, from Jo-Ann.com, was talking about on Lindsay T Sews blog.
The store is in another county in a shopping center, so new that AAA couldn't find the street address to get me directions. It was as large as a Target store and this is just for fabric, upholstery and craft projects. However, the way the store was arranged it was very obvious that the space devoted to fashion sewing was less than 1/5 of the store. One of the things I loved though was that there was adequate room so that the fabric could really be seen, no more narrow rows and the busy jumble of fabric shoved in together to fit. If this place wasn't an hour away from my house I could definitely see spending more time there.
I didn't buy much, just some knit fabric for a gift and a little bit for my first knit top in years. Oh Jo-Ann, while I love your new store, when are you going to start selling more two-way stretch fabrics?! Five solid colors and four (ugly) prints is not enough. The reason I ventured out to this store was because I was tracking down the teal color in the group. Believe me if you took stocking this fabric seriously, you could definitely increase traffic!
I also was finally able to get the Design Ruler (hip and french curve) from the Project Runway collection, which wasn't even sold at the Richmond Jo-Ann. In fact, I thought it was a exclusive deal with Hancock because I only saw the merchandise there despite there being a Jo-Ann directly across the street. Well, this Jo-Ann had everything in the line, including things not available on the website. There's nothing amazing about the other things in the line; mostly sewing supplies that they already sold in the store, but the ruler is new. It's inclusion gives a nod to serious garment sewers and should be a staple in Jo-Ann and Hancock always.
I'm pretty lucky because in the last two years two independent fabric stores have opened up right here in the city. Both are located a few blocks away from where I work; Fleur Fabrics, devoted to fashion fabric even carries fold-over elastic (FOE) and U-Fab focuses more on discount fabric and custom upholstery. We sewers/sewists still will always need a store like Hancock or Jo-Ann because the little stores do not stock a wide variety of sewing supplies. However, I think it's ridiculous that it took a cable TV show like Project Runway to get these stores to stock what should be basic for the woman who makes clothing. Yes, we can order them online, but why should we have to?