When the pandemic first hit, many brick-and-mortar stores tanked. It appeared as if every business that relied on selling products and services in person would struggle and barely make enough to keep itself afloat. But this wasn’t the case for JOANN Fabrics and Crafts who took the saying you reap what you ‘sew’ to heat. Their sales skyrocketed, rising 24.3% to $1.921 billion with a net income of $174 million in 2020.
This is huge for JOANN because, in 2018 and 2019, the business was on a watchlist for possible bankruptcy. JOANN developed a large amount of debt, which is still substantial ($778.6 million). But with the success their stores experienced in the past two years, the franchise will likely overcome its battles and be around for years to come.
So, why did JOANN thrive while other brick-and-mortar stores struggled and closed their doors for good?
The Etsy Boom
Etsy, an e-commerce website that focuses on handmade goods, saw a massive increase in sales in 2020 and 2021 because of the remote nature of purchasing goods, the unique personalized items, and the relationships buyers had with sellers. Many creators on Etsy voiced their success during the pandemic, and some even praised JOANN.
For example, Kimberly Hamlin sells high-end masks for weddings and bridal parties. To get an abundance of supplies, she went to JOANN and thought their choices were superior to the rest. She spent thousands of dollars in 2020 on supplies and visited the location several times a month because she had over 3,000 orders a week.
But it wasn’t just because of the Etsy boom and JOANN’s wide variety of options that led to success. The franchise prepared to accept its newfound consumer favor by diving deeper into its own sewing niche.
Finding Your Niche
JOANN zeroed in on the brand and business position during the pandemic. The prime demographics were avid sewers, tailors, and clothing designers, so JOANN ensured that their needs were always met and began revamping its stores and customer service experience. And JOANN did this before the pandemic, seeing success over the past two years due to proper preparation, planning, and branding.
So, take a page out of JOANN’s book and home in on your specific niche — research your audience’s needs and wants and how you can improve their experience with you, and reap what you ‘sew’. Even though we live in a world full of online shopping, some trends and strategies will keep customers loyal to you and coming back for more.