Saturday, January 27, 2007

Walmart to Elimate Fabric Department, Part 2

When last I went fabric shopping, I found out that Walmart is in the process of closing up most of their in-store fabric departments. So today I decided to stop at another local Walmart to see what was on sale. I talked to two women who work in that department.

Although the fabric wasn't marked down in this particular store, the women confirmed that their full-service fabric department would soon be gone and will be replaced by a few piles of pre-cut fabrics. Notions would remain, but would be combined with party goods in a new department to be called "Life Creations." Ugh.

The Corporate Bottom Liners want to get rid of the women who cut the fabric and trims. Those women have worked in the fabric department for many years. They'll still be employed with Walmart but will have to take whatever job is offered. It's such a brutal blow to the women who cut -- and to the women who sew. There is a bond between the sewer and the cutter. The cut must be true and on the generous side, yet not so generous that the business is cheated. The sewer and the cutter gaze upon the fabric as it is cut, imagining the flat expanse formed piece by piece into an attractive garment. They both look at the pattern and murmur how nice it will look when it is made up.

The ritual visit to the fabric store takes time. There are many steps, each involving making creative decisions about design, color, texture, washability, form and function. The fabric shopper begins by looking at the patterns, selecting one, then searching for the fabric and the accompanying "notions" such as color-matched thread, zipper, bias tape, buttons, snaps, and/or hooks and eyes. The women who work in fabric departments and stores invariably know and love their stock. If you need something in a damask or a wide-ribbed cordoroy -- they can tell you right away if they have it and where it is.

There's an online petition going on to stop Walmart from removing fabric departments. Interestingly enough, Walmart tried this once before in 2001 but was forced to bring the tables and friendly cutting crews back by customer rebellion! Read about it here.
So why are they going for it one more time? What didn't they understand about the mind of the fabric shopper? We hate waste and want to buy our 3 3/8 yard as per the pattern requirement. We do not want to have to piece a garment together using 2 yard sections of pre-cut panels.

So what is a local fabric shopper to do? There is always Price of Right Fabrics, 638 W. Tuscarawus in Barberton, which might have what you need -- but not always. The price there is indeed quite right. A good place to buy thread, velcro, and other essentials at a very reasonable price. Lots of great oddities can be found here.

Obtaining the best variety and price involves a long drive into Amish country, to Berlin, OH on state route 62 West in Holmes county. In town you'll find Zinck's Store (4799 E. Main St.) and the Outlet Store (4568 St Rt 39), the latter having the real deals, such as fill a very large bag full of remnants for $2. And bolts and bolts of stuff at 99 cents a yard. The outlet store has moved since I last visited -- it is closer to town and in a nice new warehouse type building. As usual, there are plenty of sturdy wagons for customers to haul their bolts of fabric around with as they shop. The shop in town has their nice goods, and lots of gorgeous quilting fabrics. There is an attic room full of bargain fabric that should always be checked for great deals.

1 comment:

Fabric store said...

This is true along with Hancock closing 100 of their stores. That is why we cannot depend on chain stores. Internet fabric stores are popping up and the selection is much better then either of these companies had available. Check them out!