We visited Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joann to see which was a better arts-and-crafts store, and there was a clear winner

Business Insider/Jessica TylerAll three craft stores had a ton of seasonal products on sale.

  • Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joann Stores all sell arts-and-crafts products like canvases and paint, sketchbooks, scrap-booking supplies, and home decor.
  • Hobby Lobby is a privately owned company, but earlier this year, it announced it would be continuing to grow, opening an additional 60 stores and hiring around 2,500 new employees in 2018.
  • In August, Michaels reported comparable sales decreased 0.4% in the second quarter. The company opened nine new stores, closed one store, and relocated seven stores in the quarter.
  • Joann is also a privately owned company. It was taken private by private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP in a $US1.6 billion deal in 2011.
  • We visited neighbouring locations of Hobby Lobby and Michaels in Commack, New York, and a Joann in Scarsdale, New York, and found that one of the stores had a lot more to offer than the other two.

Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joann are three of the biggest arts-and-crafts retailers in the United States.

Each store sells products like canvases and paint, sketchbooks, scrapbooking supplies, and home decor. All three stores also offer craft classes for kids and adults, as well as DIY project ideas and tips.

Hobby Lobby, which is privately owned, currently operates 800 stores across 47 states. In 2017, it opened 63 new stores, including 12 relocated stores. Earlier this year, Hobby Lobby announced it would be continuing to grow, opening an additional 60 stores and hiring around 2,500 new employees in 2018.

Michaels, which is a public company, currently has 1,251 of its namesake stores in 49 states. In August, Michaels reported comparable sales decreased 0.4% in the second quarter. The company opened nine new stores, closed one store, and relocated seven stores in the quarter.

Joann is also a privately owned company. It was taken private in 2011 by private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP in a $US1.6 billion deal, and it currently operates more than 850 stores across the country.

We visited neighbouring locations of Hobby Lobby and Michaels in Commack, New York, and a Joann in Scarsdale, New York, and found that one of the stores had a lot more to offer than the other two.

Here’s the verdict:


The first stop was Hobby Lobby.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The front of the store was fully stocked with autumn decor.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was also Christmas decor, much of which was on sale.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Hobby Lobby carried supplies for all sorts of crafts, like scrap-booking …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… jewellery making …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and fine art.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a huge selection of paint and canvases, with the largest canvases costing $US69.99.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were also easels and drawing desks, all of which were 50% off. Sale signs were everywhere throughout the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

A large portion of the store was dedicated to fabric and sewing supplies.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

And there was no shortage of fake foliage, flowers, and plants. There were also faux marble columns, fake fruits, and other small home decor products. There were four whole aisles of fake flowers.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were signs throughout the store that had information about its social-media profiles, as well as instructions for how to join the email list, which offers a weekly ad, special promotions, coupons, and project ideas.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It also offers an app, which includes a 40% off coupon just for downloading it. The app allows for online shopping and offers many of the same services that being on the email list does.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a lot of open registers and almost no lines. Hobby Lobby accepts returns on products within 90 days of purchase with a receipt, and it only price matches under certain conditions.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Michaels was just down the road from Hobby Lobby.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Michaels was setting up for fall, but it didn’t have Christmas decor up just yet.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Michaels carried supplies for all of the same projects that Hobby Lobby did: scrap-booking, jewellery making, school projects, and more.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

But Michaels had more in stock that Hobby Lobby did. It also had a greater variety of brands and prices to choose from in each area.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Hobby Lobby had a lot of great sales and deals, but it carried more low-end products than Michaels, which carried a greater range of high-quality products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Michaels also offered more high-tech products, including instant cameras and photo printers.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The canvases were more expensive that at Hobby Lobby, sometimes by as much as $US10. But there were a lot more brands to choose from in general.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The same held true for paint and other fine art supplies.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Michaels had a massive clearance section that offered up to 70%, but it was a mess.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It had just as much home decor as Hobby Lobby did …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and fall decor was buy one, get one free.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Michaels offers in-store pickup for online orders. Like Hobby Lobby, it has a mailing list that offers a weekly ad, special promotions, coupons, and project ideas.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store had a lot of small products like candy by the register, and there was a pretty long line. Michaels accepts returns with a receipt within two months of the original purchase date. Michaels will match competitors’ prices and beat them by 10%.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The Joann store we visited was in Scarsdale, New York.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Halloween and fall decor were all at the front of the store, and everything was on sale for 50% off.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It also had Christmas decor on sale.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Joann had a ton of supplies for everything from scrap-booking to jewellery making, like Hobby Lobby and Michaels.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Joann’s prices were comparable to Hobby Lobby. Michaels was slightly more expensive in each department, usually by a few dollars.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Joann had a lot more supplies for crafts than for fine art. Like Hobby Lobby, nothing was very expensive, but there wasn’t a ton of variety to choose from.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Of the three stores, it had the biggest selection of fabric and sewing supplies.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In fact, fabric and sewing supplies took up more than half of the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It didn’t have as much home decor as the other two stores did.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Towards the back of the store was a massive clearance section, though it was pretty messy.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Joann also has a mailing list that offers a weekly ad, special promotions, coupons, and project ideas.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

By the register were small products like hand soap, small toys, and candy. Joann takes returns with or without a receipt.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

After visiting all three stores, I found that Michaels was the clear winner. Prices were slightly lower at Joann and Hobby Lobby, but Michaels had the greatest variety of everything to choose from.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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