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Covid 19: To say business is booming is ‘an understatement’ for craft stores

Craft stores across the country are being kept busy with lockdown orders as people pick up new hobbies, and resurrect old ones.

Lockdown is looking different around Aotearoa, depending on what island you’re in, but whatever the alert level, sewing supplies, needle crafts and balls of wool are flying out the doors of local businesses as people reach for a new way to busy themselves.

The Ribbon Rose speciality craft store in Auckland caters to all crafts including paper craft, embroidery, knitting, quilting and sewing. Shop floor manager Gina Smith said business was “out of control”.

“To call it a boom is an understatement. It’s been quite madness.
“The phone doesn’t stop ringing all day.”

The family business, unable to open in level 3, offers click and collect and an online presence that attracts crafters from all over the country. Smith said she even received a call from a woman in Australia wanting to buy supplies.

The most popular new craft people were embracing was knitting, she said, and the discipline was appealing to all ages.
And unlike sourdough bakers who took up the baking only to let their bug die after lockdown, knitters who took it up last year, have stuck with it, she said.

The benefits aren’t just in the pride taken in a finished product.

Smith said it was good for “wellness and mental health, that’s the other aspect of it.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF Keren Eggers owner of Cruellas in Nelson says more people have taken up kitting and crocheting during the lockdowns.

“People think it’s a dying art, but it certainly isn’t. It hasn’t ever been dying.”

In Nelson, locally-owned Cruella’s natural fibre boutique has also been sending online knitting and crochet orders all over the country, owner Keren Eggers said.

There was definitely a surge in people taking up all sorts of handcrafts, she said.

“A lot of them don’t want to be caught at home with nothing to do again.”

And she said there was a “feel good factor, something to occupy your hands with, and it relaxes your mind”.

The sustainability movement also played a part in DIY, Eggers said. “People wanting to make more lasting products” and not purchase mass-produced items.
And while knitting seems to be the craft to take up, the need for a new accessory is seeing many pick up a needle and thread.

Stitchcraft owner Tanya Carney said she had “definitely seen an increase in fabric and mask related activity”.

“Masks are going to be the new fashion statement going forward I think.”

The most asked question at the Richmond store was “How many masks will I get out of that fabric?”, Carney said, with many asking for mask sewing advice.

And while Stitchcraft didn’t stock sewing machines, she said a rep had told her home sewing machine sales had gone through the roof because of “every Tom, Dick and Harry wanting to have a crack at sewing”.
Big craft chainstore giants were also busy, but Carney said it was good to see people supporting local.

“A lot of us little shops have battled online giants that undersell us, but now shipping has become a headache, so people aren’t getting their stuff in a timely fashion.”

Carney said customers had now “bitten the bullet” and were now visiting their local shops.

North Canterbury’s Willoughby’s craft and wool shop owner Katherine McLeod said her businesses could offer a “personal touch” and greater expertise than the chain stores, including Spotlight and Lincraft.
“All our staff here can advise everyone on what they’re knitting, what wool, what pattern” whereas the big stores, “they don’t have time to give one-on-one advice”.

She said customers travelled to the Rangiora store from Christchurch, nearly 30 kilometres away, while one woman drove from Governor’s Bay, more than 40km away.

“She calls us her local yarn store.”

Source: Stuff, Carly Gooch, Oct 09 2021


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