I went to a different craft store yesterday. We were in that end of town for an assortment of other things and I hadn't been in that one before, so we wandered in, just to take a look.
This one is, in my mind, far more of what a craft store should be. For one thing, it's a hobby-and-craft store. That means there are things from the "guy" side of the spectrum (model trains, Warhammer, radio control helicopters) alongside the traditional crafty stuff like fabrics and paints. One consequence is that you'll actually find things like pliers and screwdrivers in this place, not just a token tool here and there like the one pair of pink-handled jewelry pliers in the beading section. (I don't put much faith in tools that are pink.)
It's a single store, not a chain. We don't get the weekly sales circular, though I seem to recall occasional ads on the local TV stations.
The thing I like most, though, is that there's vastly more variety there and more emphasis on raw materials and basic supplies. Even within the basic crafts categories, you'll find things that aren't in the major chain stores. There's paper and tools for quilling and leather working beside smaller (but somehow reasonably complete) sections for things like beading and scrapbooking. I don't think cake decorating figures in, but it doesn't seem to need to. Also, though they carry various prepared kits, I think I'd be a whole lot more likely to find plain, basic items in this place: a sheet of copper, a length of plastic or wooden rod in various cross sections, wooden and paper shapes awaiting decoration or incorporation elsewhere. There is vastly less plastic, and a smaller selection of things like yarn and beads, but if I want those things I can find them easily.
It's a bit cluttery there, but it's an awful lot of fun wandering through the clutter. It guarantees that there is some new discovery around every turn. I get the distinct impression that the people there can not only help me find something specific, but tell me how best to put it to use.
Labels: chain stores, clutter, crafts, scale, shopping