Everyone crafter knows about the big craft stores out there. Naturally what is big depends on your location, but Michaels Craft store, Hobby Lobby, and Joann’s Fabric and Crafts tend to dominate the market.
But what about the smaller stores? The brick and mortar stores are having a heck of a time staying in business these days in this economy which has caused many of them to either become online only businesses or close entirely.
I buy most of my craft supplies online. I constantly hear the mantra “buy local” but the fact is that I don’t drive and I have the computer at my fingertips. Besides, I find the selection to be much better when I buy online. I certainly can’t get the delicas I want for bead weaving at the big conglomerate craft stores.
However, when a person goes online to look at different craft stores it can be an overwhelming experience as there are so many different stores to choose from. Many of the stores have sales and gimmicks to entice a frugal shopper, but where can you find what you really need?
While I shop at many places online, I have found three stores in particular where I can get most of the things I want, where I learn about new products, and where I’ve received great customer service. These stores are Joggles, Artchix, and Joan Painter Beads.
ARTchix Studio is an uplifting online shop that carries a wide variety of mixed media art supplies to fuel your creativity, along with inspiration galore, free classes, fun contests and delightful customer service. One of my favorite things above ARTchix is that you can purchase many of their graphics as digital downloads. This not only keeps you from having to pay shipping, but this lets you use the graphic more than once – a real bargain!
I spoke with Helga from ARTchix and asked her what makes ARTchix unique and she replied, “The thought, care and love we put into everything we do….from the products we design and select from around the world to the special gifts we handmake for our customers to the charming and inspiring art contests where our kitties pick the winners. We love what we do and it shows!” Certainly some of their products are unique. Their chipboard mermaid tails are something I have never seen anywhere else – I have several on order as I have to get me some tail!
Joggles is designed for the “textile, cloth doll, and mixed media artist”. In other words, they sell a little bit of everything and all of it is cool. This is where I first heard of such things as Tyvek, Zentangles, and Primary Elements by Luminarte (now known as Dreaming in Color). Joggles has several interesting free tutorials listed on their site, but they also offer online classes. These classes are for a cost, but the charges are minimal considering the amount of instruction you get.
Furthermore Barbara, the store owner, has always been willing to offer help and advice. Barbara thrives on trying new craft projects herself, and is happy to answer questions from all who ask – she is so into what she does! I asked Barbara what she thought made Joggles unique, and this is what she said: “Joggles is a specialty art retailer selling mixed media and fabric art supplies to artists all over the world. With an inventory of more than 16000 products, online classes, tutorials, and more, Joggles really is the Heart of Art!” Heart of Art…how true!
One I bought my delicas from Joan Painter Beads, I knew that this was the place to buy them from now on. As any bead weaver knows, delicas are the bead of choice for serious weaving projects but they can cost a bit of money. The cost is clearly less at Joan Painter Beads than at any other bead store where I’ve shopped without sacrificing any of the quality. Furthermore, she offers the full range of size 11/0 delica beads.
I asked Joan what made her store unique and she fired back “LOW PRICES!” I had to laugh and respond “NO KIDDING!” Low prices indeed! The amount of delicas I got for my money was twice what I was used to paying. Joan then reminded me that she also offers quantity discounts. You can’t go wrong there – the more you buy the more you save!
Buying local is, of course, important to your local economy. Still, a person has to think about where they can get what they need. I don’t think I could walk into my local craft store and buy mermaid tails, Tyvek, or even delicas. But I can get all of what I need by shopping online at ARTchix, Joggles, and Joan Painter Beads.
(email convo with Helga from ARTchix)
(email convo with Barbara from joggles)
(email convo with Joan from Joan Painter Beads)