The Crafty Lady closing brick and mortar in Lacombe, moving online

The Crafty Lady's physical location at 5009-50th St. in Lacombe will be closing and moving online, February 1, 2020. Supplied image/ Lori Nowochin

Share Adjust Comment Print

In what is becoming a telltale sign of the times and business in downtown Lacombe, the local craft store is closing the doors to its brick and mortar store and transitioning online.

As of closing time on Feb. 1, 2020, The Crafty Lady, will no longer operate at its 5006 50 Ave. location, and instead sell its products online, and eventually via a mobile pop-up at area Farmer’s Markets.

Owner and the crafty lady herself, Lori Nowochin says the decision to close the store location started with a decline in the popularity of “Moonlight Madness” in the downtown core during the Light Up the Night festivities, which she says has been a “sore spot” for awhile.

“Downtown had Moonlight Madness for years – the city usurped it by doing Light Up the Night. What they were attempting to do was bring more business down, but what they actually did was take business away from the core,” she said. “They were bringing people downtown, but they were bringing people to the parade and they were following it like…the pied piper over to the LMC to shop from people who vend once a year.

“We went from having standing room only in our stores to why am I bothering to be open? This year, my Thursday night was a Thursday night. There was nothing special.”

The Crafty Lady has been in business for just shy of 26 years. When it opened, there were a couple other crafty type stores in town including Wildflower Creations and Woolworth’s, but when Nowochin broke her 40″ circular needle in the middle of knitting an afghan, and couldn’t find what she needed locally, she was forced to drive in to Lewiscraft in Red Deer.

Lewiscraft, at the time, was looking to expand their footprint in central Alberta, and knowing Nowco Home Hardware, which was owned by her parents at the time, had a basement space they were looking to fill, she decided to open a store of her own.

Not that it was an easy sell, at first. Lewiscraft wasn’t sold on the idea, but eventually she became a Lewiscraft store under “The Crafty Lady” name, and in February 1994, the store opened in Home Hardware’s basement.

By 1999, the hardware store expanded, and The Crafty Lady was moved above ground to the north side of the building at 5009-50 St.

Originally, she was an all-encompassing arts and craft store, selling paint supplies, model kits, raffia, paper mache and all arts supplies that were big in the 90’s, but it soon became clear yarn was her biggest seller, with sales outmatching its footprint, and she started to expand her yarn selection.

When Artsy Fartsy opened, Nowochin cleared her store of art supplies, and did the same with model kits when the local bike shop started bringing them in, and continued to bring in more yarn.

Both stores have since closed, and while she tried to bring in such supplies again, it was no longer what people were looking for in her store.

In 2018, needing more space for storage for product, she made the decision to move the store to its current location next door to CIBC on Main Street. However, the move caused some in the community to believe she’d already closed, negatively impacting sales.

While she says there’s still very much a market in the community for a craft store, especially with knitting and crochet being taught at local schools, the downturn in the economy hasn’t helped her business. In fact, she describes the store as now “showrooming,” rather than selling product.

“Customers would come in, they would ask all the questions, get all the information, then go buy it online. About four months later, they’d come in because they didn’t order quite enough and buy one more ball. One more ball doesn’t pay the rent,” she said.

Now, she’ll cut rent costs in favour of a motor home which she’ll convert into a mobile store featuring a four-foot aisle, and a u-shaped shopping area. She’ll take the business to various Farmer’s Markets and pop-up locations.

“Basically all I’m doing is changing venues,” she said. “I’m still going to be able to catch all the customers I would normally be catching. It’s just they can’t go to the bank and stop next door, which is what a lot of them were doing and we’re creatures of habit.”

The change, however, will come with some reduction in offerings on the product side. Items like notions, or a lot of cross stitch products won’t be stocked items online. Nowochin says tariffs and increased duty and import fees on such products, which often have to come in from the U.S. or the U.K. have been a determining factor in what she’s willing to continue carrying.

On the bright side, that means the majority of the products she sells will come from Canadian wholesalers and artists, such as Zen Yarn Gardens, Sweet Paprika, and Ancient Arts, or importers who are friendly to the Canadian dollar and market.

As for her website, she says an updated and more user-friendly website is coming in the not-so-distant future.

Shoppers can visit the online store at https://craftylady.getpayd.com, but should note they’ll have to search what they’re looking for to have product show up until the new store comes online.

Further updates and craft news from The Crafty Lady can be found on her blog at thecraftyladyoflacombe.blogspot.com, or on the Facebook page @craftyladylacombe.

Comments