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

Business Insider/Jessica TylerHobby Lobby and Michaels were setting up for Halloween when we visited in August.

  • Hobby Lobby & Michaels sell arts-and-crafts products like canvases and paint, sketchbooks, scrapbooking supplies, and home decor. The two stores also offer craft classes for kids and adults, as well as DIY project ideas and tips.
  • 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.
  • We visited neighbouring locations of the two retailers in Commack, New York, and found that we preferred the shopping experience at Michaels.

Hobby Lobby & Michaels are two of the biggest arts-and-crafts giants in the United States.

Both stores sell products like canvases and paint, sketchbooks, scrapbooking supplies, and home decor. The two 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.

We visited the two stores at neighbouring locations in Commack, New York, and found that there was a clear winner between the two. Here’s the verdict:


The first stop was Hobby Lobby.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The inside was fully decorated for fall. There were deals on all sorts of fall decor …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and Halloween decor was slowly being added to the shelves.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Empty shelves seemed to be pretty common throughout the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

One thing that surprised me was seeing Christmas decor lining the shelves in August.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Almost everything in the Christmas aisle was on sale, making it hard to tell whether it was left over from last year still, or whether it was being put up early for this year.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Hobby Lobby carried craft supplies for everything from scrapbooking …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… to jewellery making …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… to supplies for school projects.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Hobby Lobby sold a lot of different brands of paint, mostly for under $US5.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It also had canvases in all different shapes, sizes, and materials.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The canvases ranged in price from $US1.99 for a tiny canvas to $US69.99 for the biggest canvases.

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 big portion of the store was dedicated to fabric.

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 blue signs everywhere that included information about the store’s 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

Next was Michaels, just a one-minute drive from Hobby Lobby.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Like Hobby Lobby, the front of the store was setting up for fall. But Michaels didn’t have any Christmas decor up yet.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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

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

While there were a handful of empty shelves …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… most aisles were fully stocked.

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 offering up to 70% off, but it was a mess.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were aisles full of fake plants and home decor.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

And all 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

Michaels 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 competitor prices and beat them by 10%.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

After visiting both stores, I found that Michaels was the clear winner between the two. Even though Hobby Lobby was a bit less expensive, Michaels price matches, and it had a lot more variety to choose from in the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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