Craft retailer takes off

An aging population and increased nostalgia are cited as reasons for a growing interest in crafts, a $29 billion industry
Friday, September 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:07 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Hobby Lobby arrived in Columbia earlier this month, riding a wave of interest in crafts and hobbies that has never been higher. The company’s 16th store in Missouri opened Sept. 4 at Broadway and Ash Street and held its grand-opening sale through Saturday.

The craft and hobby industry has grown by 26 percent in recent years. According to the most recent Craft and Hobby Association data, it is a $29 billion industry in the United States, up from $23 billion in 2000. More than 60 percent of American households participated in craft activities in 2002. The association estimates that frequent crafters can spend as much as $1,500 on supplies in a year.

“Arts and crafts have seen a renewed interest,” said Bill Hane, Hobby Lobby’s vice president of advertising. He said a decrease in travel, a desire to reconnect with friends and families and the self-fulfillment of the creative process were reasons more people are turning to crafts.

Hobby Lobby is the third-largest retailer in the industry behind Michaels Stores and Jo-Ann Stores, which also have locations in Columbia.

According to the business-information Web site Hoover’s Online,, Hobby Lobby reported $1.164 billion in sales in 2002, the most recent year available, an increase of 28 percent from 2000. Michaels Stores reported $3.091 billion in sales in 2003, up 37 percent from $2.249 billion in 2000. Jo-Ann Stores’ sales were $1.73 billion last year, according to its annual report.

Robert Snyder, manager of the Columbia Hobby Lobby, said the company plans to add 30 stores nationwide by the end of this year, which is consistent with the company’s growth in recent years.

Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma, has 340 stores concentrated in the Midwest and South. But Snyder said there are plans for expansion in the West and Northeast and that it’s just a matter of time before the company has a large presence nationwide.

Snyder was pleased with the opening period. He said all items have been selling well , especially fabrics. “I’ve never seen fabrics sell like they have this week,” said Snyder, who came from the Hobby Lobby in Jefferson City, which he managed.

Fabrics are used in home décor and quilting, among the most popular crafts. Don Meyer of the craft association said scrap-booking, with 25 million participants, is the fastest-growing craft in the United States. Knitting and crocheting, with 38 million combined, are the most popular, he said.

“The practice of arts and crafts has gone up dramatically,” said David O’Leary, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A & M University.

He said the aging population and the increase in nostalgia, among other reasons, have helped cause the growing increase in scrap-booking, which are associated with memories.

“There is a desire to make things for others, something that will outlive the creator and be appreciated after they are gone,” said Sharon Todd of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the State University of New York at Cortland.

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