Monday, January 30, 2006

And to drive my point home

I was shocked and dismayed to see the "CLOSING" signs going up outside our local JoAnn Fabrics. I can hardly believe it. It was a small store, so that was my first thought - that JoAnn's was closing its smaller stores and focusing on these super sized stores.

So I did some research and found this corporate report on Yahoo business:

Our strategy is to grow by replacing many of our existing traditional stores with superstores. We believe that our prototype 35,000 square foot superstore gives us a competitive advantage in the industry. Our superstores provide a unique shopping experience by offering a full creative product assortment-sewing, crafting, framing, seasonal, floral and home décor accessories-all under one roof. On average, we close 1.1 traditional stores for every superstore that we open. Our superstores typically generate, on average, over three times the revenues of the traditional stores they replace. In markets where we have opened multiple superstores, we have been able to grow our revenues significantly, and we believe, expand our market size and market share.

But then I came across this from a small local newspaper from suburbs north of Pittsburgh:

Spring closing scheduled for Jo-Ann Fabrics
By Tawnya Panizzi, Staff Writer
Thursday, January 12, 2006

Just two years after Jo-Ann Fabrics expanded to a super store at The Waterworks, the popular craft retailer will close its doors.

Company officials confirmed the news on Monday, saying the site is expected to close in March.

"Though we are closing The Waterworks store and have no immediate store opening announcements in the area, we are always assessing the community's need for a full-service super store," said Jeff Fink, vice-president of real estate for Jo-Ann Stores.

Fink gave no reason for the decision.

In 2003, the crafting specialty store moved from its cramped spot in The Waterworks to a 33,000-square-foot space, making it one of the plaza's largest properties.

Jo-Ann Fabrics was selected above big-box tenants during a search to fill the coveted anchor position by mall owners, The J. J. Gumberg Corp.

Jill Moreman, spokesperson for Gumberg, declined comment on the soon-to-be vacant site.

"I don't have details on that," she said.

At the time of the Jo-Ann expansion, Gumberg spokespeople said the contract would be long-term.

Fink said the company last year opened 40 superstores across the county as part of a strategic initiative to transition many of its retail outlets from traditional fabric stores to full-service ones.

Headquartered in Ohio, there are more than 950 Jo-Ann stores across the country. The store specializes in crafts and home decor, carrying a variety of creative supplies for sewing, framing and scrap-booking.

Fink did not say if employees at the Pittsburgh store will be relocated.

Just two years ago, store and mall spokespeople said the expansion would align with corporate strategy and was something that shoppers repeatedly requested.

So -they're even closing a huge store. Not. good.

But my main concern is (me, me, me): Where will I go for fabric? I absolutely refuse to shop in WalMart or (shudder) SuperWalMart, and now it looks like those are my only two choices within a 35 mile radius.

This blows.

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