Yes I am addicted! Addicted to Fabric! In my last article, I mentioned one of my favorite childhood memories was of fabric shopping with my Mom and sisters. When we were still in grade school, our Mom would take us to a local fabric store. I don’t remember its name, but it sold only the basics….fabric, zippers, patterns and thread, that’s it! What a difference from what fabric stores offer today, which brings me to a topic that is heavy on my heart!! Hancock Fabric is going out of business!!!
Currently Wichita has two Hancock stores…one on the East side and one on the West. Going to the East store was part of my typical Friday night routine. I would eat dinner with my kids and then head to Hancocks and buy fabric! It was a great way to spend a Friday night! Unfortunately, a couple of months ago, I learned that the East store was closing! My world started spinning! My perfect Friday night routine was in jeopardy! Even though the West store is only a 20 minute drive, when you live in Wichita, Kansas you get spoiled. There is an unwritten “20-minute” rule here. If it takes 20 minutes to get there, you don’t need to be there! But I was willing to do it because I love FABRIC! I love buying it, touching it, talking about it and of course sewing it! It is my addiction!
Until the East’s doors closed for good, I continued to shop there. Last Friday night, I’m standing in line to get my fabric cut when the clerk mentioned to me that the West Store’s discount is at 20% right now, but would be going down over the next few weeks. I thought I misunderstood her and responded by saying, “The West side store is not closing, right?”. She politely replied “No, all the Hancock stores are closing. It was decided in court that all stores would close because the only company that was interested in buying the remaining stores was a Liquidator!” Now I am really devastated. Clearly some man decided this and probably decided to replace it with a sporting goods store because we just don’t have enough of those!
Even though my world has been rocked (in a bad way) if I am really honest with myself, I am not surprised that they are going out of business. I found the stores a little dirty and very unorganized. Their discount fabric sat on the shelves for years….literally years! The prices never decreased enough to make you want to purchase it, so there it sat! The staff, though pleasant enough, were clearly hired for their “warm bodies” as opposed to their knowledge or love of fabric. To most of them it was just a part time job. When I shop for fabric, I want to be in a store surrounded by others that love fabric just as much as I do! I didn’t get that experience at Hancocks.
Also, I am not sure if it was store policy or the employees’ were attempting to provide some sort of customer service, but on several occasions, employees would yell out, “Welcome to Hancocks” from across the store when they heard the front doorbell ring. There is something about a genuine hello that is welcoming, but a greeting given from behind a display of fabric at the back of the store, when you haven’t even seen who walked in, has little or no impact on the customer. It’s actually rude! So, again maybe I’m not surprised by their closing.
Now, that sewing my own fashions is an acceptable form of keeping on trend as well as keeping my closet full. I find it maddening that my supply of fabric is dwindling right before my eyes!
So, what are my options? With Hancocks closing, that leaves Wichita with one major fabric chain….Joann’s Fabrics, which is not bad, but it’s not convenient for me. (Again, remember the 20-minute rule). If you say, “Gayla, Hobby Lobby has fabric! Why don’t you shop there?” I would just laugh at you and say, Hobby Lobby is not a fabric store. What fabric they do have is never on sale and their inventory is limited. Please! I need another fabric fix option!
You might then ask, “How about shopping online? You can buy anything on-line!” I’m all for shopping online, but how can you buy fabric that you haven’t touched, held up to your face to see if it is “your” color, or matched with other fabrics. How do you know if its the right weight or texture for your project? There are so many questions that can’t be answered through a computer monitor.
What would make me happy, is to live down the street from “Mood Fabrics”. But alas, I don’t live in New York City, so that won’t work. Fellow sewists, please I need your help! Let me know where you go for Fabric. Is it on-line? If so, what sites do you recommend? Is there a Fabric Black Market that I don’t know about? Will my future be secret meetings with strangers in dark alleys to get my fabric fix? I hope not, but I am not above doing that! Again, where does everyone else find their Fabric!
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