Never Shop At Hobby Lobby Again: A List Of Alternative Craft Stores Both Chain and Indie

We know by now that one positive way to promote change is by making conscious purchases. We did it with a certain chicken fast food chain and now we can do it with arts and crafts. I know it seems surprising, but there are arts and crafts stores out there that value their employees! Surprising, right?!

hobby_lobby_nope

The thing about Hobby Lobby is that they sell literally nothing you can’t buy in every craft store ever. The Hobby Lobby in Fort Collins is legitimately across the street from a Michaels, two blocks from Jo-Ann and down the road from a handful of local indie craft spots. You don’t need Hobby Lobby. Even if you live in a town where there is only a Hobby Lobby (I don’t completely believe such a place exists because local craft spots are everywhere), most places sell online, even the indies.

This resource list to buying craft supplies from places that value their employees isn’t as comprehensive as it could be, but it’s a start. You can help us fill in the amazing local indie places from your town by letting me know in the comments! Together, we can ensure that no feminist need ever set foot inside those prejudiced, orange doors Monday through Saturday ever again.


 

via flickr

via flickr

Large Chain Stores

These chain stores offer a valuable alternative to Hobby Lobby, and have never taken anti-women or anti-queer stances as far as I can tell. This isn’t to say they are perfect corporations, but they are widely-accessible alternatives if you are having trouble finding independently-owned craft stores in your area. I’ve also included some employee treatment knowledge so that you can make informed buying choices. If you’ve ever worked at any of these stores and can offer insight, let me know!


 

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store

Jo-Ann is a big box craft chain with over 800 stores nationwide. They are in a ton of states throughout America, so they’re typically as accessible as any other chain craft stores. They sell fabric, yarn and beads, as well as sewing, jewelry-making and baking supplies. You can purchase online, and they always have coupons you can use on your phone or print to help you save a few bucks. I can also say with random confidence that they throw awesome children’s birthday parties.

How Employees Are Treated:

  • Jo-Ann employee salaries are around minimum wage, averaging about $7-$10/hr for a team member.
  • Jo-Ann offers benefits and a healthcare package for part-time team members, including some paid holidays.
  • Employee reviews on Indeed.com of Jo-Ann stores gave the company about an average rating, with some specifically saying it was the best or worst job they ever had. Employees reviewed said that the management and supervisors were well organized or terrible — locations varied widely, maybe signaling that retail store managers also vary widely. Positive reviews all said the work environment was the best part of the job, with one stating, “My co-workers are great. I like to believe that it is the workers that make my store such a great place to work.”


Michaels 

Michaels is another giant arts and craft chain store. Among a million other things, they sell yarn, artist supplies, floral supplies, jewelry-making supplies, bakeware, scrapbooking supplies and random $1 packs of blank notecards I can’t stop buying. They’re nationwide and even have some stores throughout Canada. Michaels also offers online purchases and has coupons you should be using.

How Employees Are Treated:

  • Michaels’ salaries are about average (higher than Jo-Ann), and most cashiers make minimum wage.
  • Michaels offers benefits and a healthcare package for part-time employees.
  • Most employee reviews on Indeed.com of Michaels are very complimentary. Most employee reviews say things like “the most enjoyable part of the job is speaking with customers about their projects, weddings, and getting their artistic advice. Its a fun environment (sic)” and “Being a retail store it’s a great place for people to start their first job. Management is great and will work with you if you have a crazy schedule because of school.” The most common cons were that there weren’t enough hours for temporary employees.


Artist and Craftsman Supply

Artist and Craftsman Supply is filled with really nice people that can help you out in extremely random locations throughout America, and Riese recommends them highly. They specialize in art supplies, so you can find all the typical canvas, drawing, paints in addition to a small offering of sculpture supplies and craft supplies like yarn. Their All Things Considered area is the best for finding random things you totally need, like this sweet giraffe mask. You can purchase online through their website.

How Employees Are Treated:

  • Retail clerk pay rates are an average of $9/hr.
  • It is unclear whether or not all employees are offered a health care package, though full-time employee job offerings do come with a benefits package.
  • To be honest, Artist and Craftsman Supply received some pretty low employee satisfaction ratings from Glassdoor.com. One positive employee review said, “The majority of the individual store managers and employees are incredible people that genuinely want to help the customers have an amazing experience.” Many employees don’t like the higher management. Three people reviewed did not approve of the CEO, Larry Alderstein.


A.C. Moore

East Coasters, I am so jealous you get A.C. Moore. A.C. Moore sells bakeware, yarn and needle crafts, scrapbooking supplies, and floral among many other things. You can purchase their goods and wares online.

How Employees Are Treated:

  • A.C. Moore employees salaries are around $7-$9/hr for sales associates.
  • A.C. Moore offers benefits to part-time employees.
  • 54 employee reviews on Indeed.com gave the company 3.5 stars out of 5. Positive reviews say, “The management was easy to talk with and problems were handled quickly and effectively.” One neutral-ish review says, “Great place for job seekers looking for less than 30 hours a week at around minimum wage” which kind of says it all.


Pat Catan’s

Pat Catan’s is a family-owned crafting hot spot for Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. They sell baking, floral, beading, scrapbooking and needle craft supplies among others.

How Employees Are Treated:

  • Pat Catan’s employee pay rates average minimum wage, from $7-$8/hr.
  • Pat Catan’s offers full-time employees benefits, though it is unclear if this extends to part-time employees.
  • Out of a total of one employee review on Indeed.com, we can surmise that Pat Catan’s is a “Great place to work. Excellent Management. Team work is great. Co-workers are terrific. This is the best place by far to work.” However, from the five employee reviews on Glassdoor, Pat Catan’s only earns two out of five stars. Negative reviews include, “It was like pulling teeth at times in order to get more hours. Barely covers living expenses” and “Advancement is about impossible, the same managers have been there for 30 years, the store managers choose friends to promote before hard workers that deserve it.”

 

Buy random grab bags of craft supplies for cheap on ebay! via this weird ebay listing

Buy random grab bags of craft supplies for cheap on ebay! via this weird ebay listing

Online Retailers

Amazon and eBay and Etsy have a surprising amount of craft supplies at low prices. If you’re having trouble finding beads or a the most specific shade of Hunter Green felt, these are the three places I’d recommend, as you can find exactly what you want, always.

Factory Direct Craft, Oriental Trading and Save-On-Crafts are three gigantic online retailers that are wholly overwhelming if you are just browsing. You can find nearly any kind of craft supply in these three places. If you can’t, I’m doubting it exists. To tackle these giants and get the most out of it, I recommend having something specific in mind, whether that be a finished product or a party theme, and going from there.


 

Purl Soho yarn wall via Uppercase Magazine

Purl Soho yarn wall via Uppercase Magazine

Awesome Local Indie Places by City

Support your local indie craft shop!

Independent art and craft shops are sanctuaries of making all the things. Supporting local businesses means you’re paying directly back into your community and giving small businesses a boost. Many indie shops sell online and are not limited to region, but the experience and beauty of a local craft shop is something we should all revel in. Check out the ones we love below:

Baltimore

Burlington, VT

Chicago

Connecticut

Denver

Kansas City

Laguna Beach, CA

Lancaster, PA

Las Cruces, NM

Los Angeles

Michigan

New York City

Northampton

Philadelphia

Portland

San Antonio

San Francisco

Stevens Point, WI

Washington D.C.

West Lafayette, IN

Please note, these are just the ones we know about so far! Let us know your favorites in the comments so we can add it to the list!

Avatar of Hansen

Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 186 articles for us.

44 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    I wouldn’t exactly consider Michael’s a viable alternative. They are currently owned by Bain Capital and have been given a 100% red rating based on political donations.

    They’ve been reviewed by the Faith Driven Consumer website at 3.5 stars for, “Michaels is deeply committed to helping charities support families and children and holds to corporate positions that affirm the biblical understanding of sexuality, marriage and family. Its website enthusiastically embraces the word “Christmas” in its seasonal promotions and its advertising is wholesome and family-friendly. Michaels can also be commended for holding to a biblical understanding of the word “diversity” and it aims to reduce energy usage without holding to the politically correct position on climate change.”

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      So, here’s where it kind of gets wishy-washy in terms of what’s going on there. Michaels just went public last Friday. Most of the shares are owned by two companies, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group, which each own 40%. Bain Capital and Blackstone Group both contribute to many Republican candidates, but they also contribute to Democrat candidates. When we break down the good versus evil, it’s a really gray area, you know? I’m not sure where to draw the line on whether or not Michaels is a good company. As a small business advocate, I’d like to say I don’t shop there, but I sometimes do. It has been a really necessary alternative option to Hobby Lobby for me, and I am including it in this list because of that.

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        100% understandable, and I agree that stepping into that squishy mess and trying to navigate it all is frustrating and the exact shade of gray is up to each individual to decide upon.

        I have set foot in my local Michaels to grab emergency knitting supplies and I can’t say that I’m hugely proud of it, as I do prefer local stores or smaller national chains.

        The stance on “traditional,” or “biblical” views of sexuality/marriage/family puts me off though, and I’m fine with avoiding the store in general. I’m lucky to have two new yarn stores opening in my city and I can get other craft supplies at other places, with that being said, it is an alternative for those that don’t have access to awesome local stores or even JoAnn or other stores that don’t have questionable views. Since companies can have political & religious views now.

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    This is a great list! There is this small bead store called Sugarbeads in my area.They have two stores in Connecticut, one in Ridgefield and another in West Hartford. This store sells so many different kinds of beads in various colors, sizes, and designs. They even sell cute little charms and findings as well. It’s perfect for jewelry-makers!

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      Sugarbeads is the absolute best! It’s a bit higher priced (there’s a bead shop where I went to school in Indiana that was a better deal), but the employees are incredibly friendly and their selection is AWESOME. There have been several times where employees have asked me to bring back pieces I’ve made with things I’ve purchased there, and have had lots of creative wisdom to share. Seriously, such a great place.

      Those in the Midwest around Indiana really should check out Von’s in West Lafayette. They have a really neat selection there, as well :)

  3. Thumb up 2

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    Thank you so much for making this awesome list! I have been wanting to buy a bunch of craft supplies, which I did yesterday at Michaels, but I will probably want more things.

    This list is especially appreciated given that searching on Google maps gave me some weird results, like craft beer (cool, but not what I was looking for), and trying to find craft beads of Amazon gave me lots of results for anal beads and the like (cool, but not what I was looking for).

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    In Burlington, VT, we have queer-owned craft and art supply store Creative Habitat, which is super cool. Plus, my awesome, queer sister works there and her awesome, queer boyfriend so basically it’s the best place ever in my super-biased – but totally true – opinion.

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    I have to throw a shout out toward Fancy Tiger in Denver. It is an abosolutely frigging beautiful space, the stock is enough to make even the strongest knitter and crafter break down in sweet tears, and the staff are about a thousand times friendly than any other in area.

    PEE ESS The knitting group Tuesday nights are sweet as hell and if you’re yarny and in the area, you should totally come.

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    Dharma Trading is the great-great-great grandma of the hippie tie dye houses. I’ve been doing business with them since … (urp) 1973. They have dyes, paints, foils, fabric, yarn, clothing, Paverpol, markers, wax for batik, books, you name it. And they have PRIMO customer service, fast delivery, good prices. Can’t rave about them enough. Oh, and an excellent social justice ethic.

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    Can I just say – it makes me so angry that so many American employees are trying to survive on $7-10 an hour. Many things are incredibly fucked up in Australia but permanent employees in retail usually earn $16-20 an hour and casual employees $20-30, more if you work weekends or public holidays. And permanent employees are always entitled to paid leave.
    Then again, I suppose our cost of living is stupidly high.

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    whats funny is that i had never heard of hobby lobby until this happened, when people first started talking about it a few months ago i thought it was a lobbying organization for crafters and was so confused. and i’m a person who cannot walk past a craft store without entering and buying something. the indie ones really are the actual best, though.

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    I’m a fan of Art Supply Warehouse, Dick Blick/Utrecht, and the tiny but adorable art store in my town–Laguna Art Supply. It’s delightfully weird and everyone who works there always remembers me! Unfortunately I think that the cute girl who works there (who I heard from the grapevine is into girls maybe) also remembers me, but mostly because I tried to ask her to lunch once and instead I panicked the minute I introduced myself and said I heard she was looking for a friend? Then I mentioned Mo, who had told me to talk to her, but she didn’t know who I was talking about? Then I said I must’ve been mistaken and ran away. Pretty sure she thought I was either trying to buy drugs from her or proposition her to be my sex buddy.

    So anyway I suggest supporting your local art/craft store, but I do not suggest asking out someone while they’re at work and realizing it’s a bad idea in the middle of it and leaving her to think you’re a druggy swinger.

    A cautionary tale??

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    The Artist and Craftsman Supply in Baltimore is so awesome that I completely thought it was independent! Oh well- I’m going to keep shopping there because the customer service is way better that Michael’s, and their politics probably are, too.

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    Even though it’s got a more scientific and mechanical bent, American Science and Surplus is a great place to find random craft supplies. I’ve only shopped online, but have dreamed about visiting their Chicago retail location.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    This post makes me sad. Boycotts don’t hurt the people on top who are making the decisions. It hurts the lower level workers and management who are fired for not making sales. I will continue to support and love workers who are in the stores.
    For the record I’m not saying I support the decisions of the company. I am objecting to how people show that they are disagreeing with the company.

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    The only time I’ve been to Hobby Lobby was when I went to Texas to visit my fiance’s family. Not impressed by the overwhelming smell of the cinnamon trees (it’s not that strong in Michael’s ok?). Here’s my list for San Francisco craft stores:

    Imagiknit (18th & Sanchez): My favorite yarn store in San Francisco. Period. Cliff’s Variety on Castro is good for both hardware & art supplies, there’s a Blick on Market, Hobby Co on Geary & 16th Ave is good for those in the Richmond, & Mendel’s in upper Haight is one of my favorites.

    Britex Fabrics: This is where most of the San Francisco-based fashion designers get their fabrics for their collections. This is also where poor design students beg for swatches for their inspiration boards for design class. Britex is not for the faint-hearted (some fabrics can go upwards of $120 per yard), but they have good deals on fabric remnants and notions, such as bias tape, interfacing, and other things you need to DIY some suspenders.

    None of these places smell overwhelmingly of artificial cinnamon.

  14. Thumb up 2

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    I appreciate that AS makes a chunk of affiliate money from Amazon but that company truly is bad news too – I don’t know what they’re up to in the US but here in the UK they were one of a bunch of mega corps not paying their taxes whilst public services were (are) being cut.

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    While I understand that many users of this site disagree with the owners of Hobby Lobby’s views on certain contraceptives; I feel that the original post should have also contained other information to allow users to make a fully informed decision about whether to shop there.
    Namely that Hobby Lobby pays it’s FT staff a minimum of $14ph.
    Its healthcare plan is open to PT employees and is more generously subsidized by the company than most.
    It gives paid sick days AND paid vacation to its employees.
    The latest that a store can be open is 8:00, and that all stores are closed on Sundays is because the Company believes it’s staff should have adequate time to spend with family and not be working every hour of the day.

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    I work at Jo-Anns and i love it i work at a location in Chicago and management and employee is very great i love my team they always work hard. Our customer service is also great some people may say something else but our customer service is a great one we always make sure we help to the best of our ability.

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    In San Antonio, Inskein Yarns, Yarnivore, and Yarn Barn are all excellent yarn sources. If I can’t find something locally, I use knitpicks.com, yarn.com, numei.com, or yarn-paradise.com. Jo-Ann’s Serenity yarn is an excellent substitute for Hobby Lobby’s “I Love This Yarn.”

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    Paper Source is great for the scrapbooking queer babes. Kind of a more niche craft store I suppose, but if you’re looking for creative gift wrap, stencils, stamps, ribbons, glitter, etc its a fun place to check out. They do some workshops relatively regularly as well, and they have multiple locations throughout the states. Oh and they make some hella cute cards and stuff. Also thank you for this post I will definitely be checking out the local LA stores mentioned.

  19. Thumb up 1

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    I live on Long Island, so no Hobby Lobby here. With the stuff I do (leathercrafting, woodcarving, pinstriping), I can’t buy materials or tools in Michaels, Jo-Ann’s, or A.C. Moore. I used to be able to get my One Shot paints for pinstriping at Pearl Paint but they closed down in my area. That was the one store that was for serious artists and not a Martha Stewart scrapboooking wonderland.

    I have been on HL’s site in the past when people recommended them for some sort of thing or another but I found they were overpriced and I could get what I needed elsewhere for cheaper.

  20. Thumb up 0

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    PURL SOHO! I live in Michigan and followed Purl’s blog for at least 4 years before deciding to make a pilgrimage to Purl. It took everything within me to keep from crying tears of joy when I walked in the door. I’ve been back a few times since and love the shop! The staff are very friendly and helpful and Purl has a wonderful selection of fabric, yarn, and more.

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    Texas Art Supply is IMHO the best art supply store in Houston. Also, we have Aaron Brothers, which sells surprisingly affordable art supplies considering that it bills itself primarily as a framing store.

    Also, there’s Blick in Chicago–the store I went to was massive and the employees were very cool.

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