If you haven't heard already, the Hancock Fabrics chain, with more than 250 stores in 39 American states, is closing.
That's a pretty large chunk of American fabric stores to lose all at once. I had never been to a Hancock's -- they weren't in NYC -- and I imagine it as something akin to a JoAnn Fabric, with lots of quilting cotton, fleece, and craft kits and not much focus on garment sewing, but it's still sad news to me.
The announcement made me wonder where we stand in 2016 with regard to home sewing. I often hear that sewing is experiencing a resurgence. I can't say I'm aware of any dramatic change happening in the seven years I've been sewing. I'm heartened by the success of the UK's Great British Sewing Bee, which has completed three seasons, but discouraged that there wasn't enough interest in a stateside version (albeit one where the competitive element was hyped up, a la Project Runway) to make a go of it here. (I suspect the British are culturally more craft-oriented than we Americans.)
My perspective on sewing is skewed because I live a stone's throw from the Garment District. We've seen some store closings since 2009 -- most notably Greenberg & Hammer and most recently, Chic Fabrics -- but things seem relatively stable. The store I know best, Mood Fabrics, seems to be thriving and has recently added sewing classes and expanded their notions department.
Still, more and more cookie-cutter sliver hotels are squeezing out the old factory buildings, and there are more cute coffee bars opening in spaces that used to house fabric stores. When manufacturing can't afford to stay in the Garment District, fabric and notions stores will close -- it's inevitable. (NYC has been experiencing a dramatic increase in chain stores of all kinds in the last decade or so, from 7-Eleven to Forever 21, as well as rising commercial rents across the board.)
|What I wouldn't give to be able to step back in time and shop at a Singer sewing store!|
I don't know what's going on in your part of the country or the world, but I'd love to hear your own perspective. One thing I know is that, thanks to the internet, passionate individual sewers are able to find each other and share their excitement and expertise. No one with online access has to feel like they're the only one they know who sews. There are certainly more independent online pattern companies than there have been in the past, or so it seems.
With so many brick and mortar fabric stores closing -- due to either lack of a large enough sewing community to support them or inability to compete with online stores -- in-store fabric shopping seems to be going the way of in-store book shopping. I think it's easier to shop for books online, however, because you don't have to touch a book or see how it drapes or wonder whether the color is accurately represented on your computer screen. Plus, even if there are no book stores, there are still libraries. There are no fabric-store equivalents to libraries that I can think of.
In closing, a few questions:
What's going on in your corner of the planet with regard to home sewing?
Do you sense an upsurge of interest, a dwindling of interest, or are things pretty much status quo?
Home sewing, 2016 --what's your take?