BAXTER - The fabric store that has been part of the Westgate Mall for more than two decades barely resembles itself these days.
Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, the corporate-owned store, doubled its space through a move inside the mall. The store opened in its new space - created from an area that once was home to two stores - on Oct. 1 near the Dairy Queen.
Deb Hoffmann, sales associate, said the move meant expanded space for fabrics, sewing notions, jewelry, home decor, among other supplies.
"It's just a little bit of everything - all the way down to the thread - than we've ever had before," Hoffmann said. "We've had such a good response."
Leslie Karg, Isle, was getting fabric for Christmas projects at the store earlier this week. She said the new version left her with a good impression as the store was clean and bright with wide aisles.
The move and expansion establishes the Jo-Ann store here now with a potential for a future competitor in the Michaels craft store. But Hoffmann said while the new Jo-Ann's has expanded its crafts areas, it remains at its heart a fabric store for sewers and quilters.
"There is so much more variety," Jul Johnson, merchandising team leader, said of the updated store. "It's more customer friendly."
The store now offers a bigger selection. There are price check stations to assist customers throughout the store. Forty people were hired for the move and the store now has 30 employees, an increase from 13 at the old store.
"I love your new store," customer Sue Kumpula of Nisswa told Johnson. "It's like Maple Grove."
The store has an area set aside for classes and is offering a list of courses to help people tackle projects. Darrell Webb, Jo-Ann Stores Inc. chairman and chief executive officer, said in a news release a renewed popularity of handcrafted items sparked consumer interest in sewing and crafting.
"I am just so happy with this," Kumpula said of the store. "There's crafts, jewelry. They are going to have classes in here. I think it's just wonderful."
Customer and avid sewer Mary Lou Moudry stopped in the store last week. She noted the number of scrapbooking supplies and craft items and described the new store as bright and clean.
Shelves include the expected sewing supplies and notions with aisles filled with buttons, ribbons, embroidery thread. In addition, there are drawing and painting supplies from paint and brushes to canvas, sculpting clay, beads, glitter, paint-by-numbers sets, art T-shirts, knitting machines, iron-on transfers for clothing, fabric markers and tie-dye kits. Craft kits aimed at children include one designed to make lip balm. Others offer craft time in painting wooden cars. There are scrapbooking and stamping supplies and jewelry kits. Perhaps more surprising are roll after roll of colorful Duck Tape.
When the Jo-Ann store first opened in the lakes area, it had a small store in what is Herberger's. A few year's later, Jo-Ann Fabric moved to larger space in the mall and was next to Jenny's Hallmark on the mall's west end.
Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts is having four store grand openings, including the one in Baxter, from Oct. 14-16. "We are pleased to meet this growing demand as we open these new stores," Webb said. "With a wide array of fabrics and sewing items, plus a broad selection of craft products, we believe our customers will be inspired by their shopping experience and delighted with the service from our team members in these new stores."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.