In Your Store

Craft Departments That Sell

In 2019, we did a deep dive into the history of craft and discussed the larger opportunity it provides to art focused retail stores. In early 2020, we provided a list of what craft trends we saw at trade shows. Now, after a school and work year like never before, a maker and DIY mindset has become one of our society’s core values, and 2021 looks to be one the most creative years in a while!

As we’ve mentioned before, you don’t need to invest in thousands of SKUs to service your neighbors who may look to you for creative inspiration. You do need to consider yourself a resource for a wider audience that is continuing to grow and to familiarize yourself with the trends and merchandise accordingly. 

Avoid the “No” 

Our past recommendations include looking at “Craft” in a different way. Don’t try to invest in any and every available SKU; instead find solutions for the questions a novice may ask, have your staff review the current Craft/DIY trends and find your “yes” to the customer who asks, “do you have anything for [insert a project they are excited about].” The fact that they are in your store means they are ready to create, all you need to do is help them channel that creativity through an outlet you can help them with.

Say someone who’s never been in your store comes in and asks for yarn. If you don’t carry yarn, you don’t have to immediately say no. Instead you can ask more open ended questions. “Are you making a gift?” “Do you dye your own yarn?” Then, you can move the conversation from “I don’t have what you’re looking for” to “I have something else that may interest you and meet your needs”. Instead of saying “no” you exchange ideas; “I just made a paper weaving for a friend” “I’ve been playing with alcohol inks” “I just got into dyeing clothes as gifts.” 

Focus on Projects, Not Products

DIY Kit searches showed a 221% increase on Etsy in 2020. While you may not have every item that a YouTuber has for a project, you can create your own DIY kits or workshops to engage this audience. We’ve compiled a list of trends below based on multiple resources including Etsy, Pinterest, Martha Stewart, the Craft Industry Alliance, Cosmopolitan, BBC and more.

Embroidery. Almost every trend list we viewed mentioned Embroidery. In 2020, Etsy reported a 735% search increase in “beginner cross stitch kits.” We covered embroidery a bit in our February Fiber articles, but now is the time to get some kits in-house. Even if you don’t stock everything, having a kit is a simple “yes” to a common question.

Paint by Numbers. These are getting more and more sophisticated! Similar to the adult coloring trend, adults are using the stay-at-home opportunity to become more creative. Don’t have an extensive selection of Paint By Numbers? Maybe someone on staff can create one! Include a kit with a template, a graphite transfer sheet, and a suggested paint palette. This summer, host a paint-by-number mural workshop. Use a large canvas to create a design that members of your community can come and paint. Hang it in your store, or paint directly onto your building. 

Paint Pouring. Drum roll, it’s still here! While this medium has long been used by professional artists, and can be seen in museums (think Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and Morris Louis), it’s still an at-home activity that is satisfying for adults and messy enough for kids to feel like they did something really cool. There are pre-packaged kits and specific products available for this trend now. Keep it on an end-cap!

Polymer Clay. Sculpey is in the spotlight. From jewelry, to pinch pots, to coasters and more- polymer clay has created quite the marketplace. There are Etsy sellers dedicated exclusively to selling polymer clay rods and canes that can be utilized to make jewelry or earrings without doing the work yourself. How can you focus on this? Online classes! Classes could include skills like beginning cane-making, marbled clay coasters, and terrazzo earrings

Resin Projects. Michaels cited resin jewelry as their biggest DIY jewelry trend in 2020. What does someone need to make these? Silicone molds, gold leaf flakes, dried flowers, and resin. You likely carry mold-making supplies, why not put together an online workshop on mold-making? Use trendy home goods to make your molds, like crystals or round soap dishes. 

UpCycling and Eco-Crafts. Spending so much time at home, and high rates of unemployment, have folks getting creative with redesigning their space. Show how to upcycle planters, barstools, lampshades, or a tv tray using spray paint and paint markers. Have examples in your store to spark interest in those who have difficulty visualizing the final results. 

Image Transfers. These seem to come in and out of trend every 5 years or so. Dedicating some space to “easy image transfers” is a nice way to educate your fan base. What tools does someone need? A laser print (inkjet will not work), mod podge or acrylic medium, and a surface like wood panels, canvas, or painted terracotta pots. Learn more about this process here. 

Other trends that are happening:

  • Temporary Tattoos. Tattoo paper and Jagua tattoo kits are seeing movement.
  • Shibori. If you haven’t, check out our Shibori demo and plan a class for spring.
  • Macrame. Cotton Rope, fabric dye, metal hoops, and patience is what your customer needs!
  • Crafts and Fashion from the 70’s and 90’s. Bargello, Daisies, Tie-Dye and Limp Bizkit. 
  • Candle-Making. There are great vendors out there that focus on candle making supplies. Related trending crafts include melting crayons, upcycling spaghetti jars to hold wax, and block printing tags.

Connecting the Creative Consumer

When a novice or “non artist” walks into your store, what do they see? Do they see completed projects and inspiration or aisles of mysterious tools? Do they see traditional paintings that take years and thousands of hours to master, or might there be a project they could tackle over a weekend. There is no time like the present to open your arms to new ways of approaching retail, start with merchandising and advertising. 

Social Media

Throw in some posts that include “quick weekend projects!” Art Dog Blog has lots of resources from brands like Graphix and Celluclay in our Projects and Demos section, Montana has the All Spray Painted blog, Micador has an entire site of project ideas, and the list goes on. Lean on vendors to provide you with content for these consumers.

End Caps 

Dedicate an endcap to a trending project, rotate it monthly. Pull together products you carry to support a trend and provide a finished example. Some ideas below:

What would you add to this list? What do you think of your current craft related offerings? Do you have a staff member who is particularly interested in this category? We’d love to hear about it and learn from our Art Dog community! Email us at artdogblog (@)

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