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Topic: Crazy Craft Store Idea- please weigh in?  (Read 6330 times)
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NyteRayn
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« on: July 09, 2008 12:29:03 PM »

So I have this crazy thought in my head- that is SO far from being a real business plan that I can't even tell you.. but I'd love to hear what some fellow crafters think...

I've been reading about these things over in Europe called Sewing Cafes... where you can go in and buy your fabric & notions, and then they have sewing machines set up right there so that you can work on your project in the store, with other people around, and with experts available to help you out. Realize you need a matching button? Its right there!

I just think this sounds like the greatest thing ever!

But take it one step further- what if I had a large space, say, a converted 2-3 story house rezoned for business... and what if I had different rooms sort of dedicated to different crafts... sewing, knitting & crochet, scrapbooking, jewelrymaking... and a huge library of books and magazines to look through... and I had chairs, tables, sewing machines, ironing boards, etc and people could come in, work on a craft, buy materials on site, and just hang out with other creative folks? We could do classes too!

What do you think? Would you spend a significant amount of time in a place like this? How about money? What sorts of realistic roadblocks am I not thinking of?

For the record- this isn't going to happen anytime soon.. just an idea I've been mulling over.
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2008 02:41:21 PM »

i think that sounds like B+N or Borders or any other book or music store, everyone hangs round and reads and listens to what they want... except people at the sewing house would actually purchase what they're using!  i kinda think that could be super fun!!!
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2008 02:48:50 PM »

that would be totally awesome.   Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2008 02:51:14 PM »

my first thought was I wanna go!!
then I thought wow insurance would be crazy high I bet.   also maybe add a room for kids to play/ craft while moms get to craft. adn then once a week or once a month  have a mom and me craft time or something like that. sounds like a great idea and bunches of fun.  I would be willing to spend on fabric and such as much as joanns charges if I had a place like that to go. I don't buy from Joanns cause tehy are too pricey for me. but if there was a place I would have books to referrence and machines to use it wwould be much more worth it to me. yep I am cheap!
where would this wondrful store be??  Oh you could also check out an old closed down grocery store for a site instead of the house idea. lots of space would surely be needed.
Serger, brother, kenmore may even donate some machines for oyu to let the customers use if you also sell their machines. I would contact them and ask.  great  idea.....   I had one very similiar but will never make it happen I know good luck to you!!!
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2008 03:42:40 PM »

I imagine you'd have to spend a fortune on inventory with all those different crafts going on. Other than sales of that, you would have to make actual money somehow. There's a couple ways to do it:

Paid classes, which would cut down on inventory purchases because you would only have to get what you need for the class, but could you get those things at wholesale in that case?

Memberships: annual, monthly, etc. where folks could get a bulk discount on the class fees, but maybe they would have to pay for the materials.

Machine rentals (in store). Come in and use our Cricut, printer, guillotine, or sewing machine or whatever for a fee.

Space rental. Offer to bring in cake, coffee, and sandwiches so folks can gather for private scrap parties and stuff.
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karmazon
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2008 03:44:03 PM »

You know what I think? Ain't nothing to it but to do it. If you want it you need to make it happen. It's a great idea, so I'm sure it would attract lots of people.
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2008 03:53:05 PM »

Thanks for all the replies guys! Sounds like you agree with me, it sounds like an AWESOME place to go- but the logistics are of course tough to wrap my head around. I've given some thought to membership fees, machine rental fees (would I rent scissors for the scrapbookers?! LOL), and definitely classes...

I guess this is the sort of thing I would set up just for fun, if I ever won the lottery, and didn't need my place of business to feed my family.  Grin

But I'm not giving up the idea yet- I figure it'll gel in my head over the course of months or years, and maybe someday the opportunity will present itself.
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2008 05:28:47 PM »

maybe table fee.....
scrapbook table with cricut and scissors a 5 dollar or what ever fee.
sewing table with a brother 3 dollars or what ever
sewing  with serger a few dollars more
you get the idea.
don't  let the fear of making it happen hold  you back.
write a  business plan and see if you can get a grant or a business loan.you could even start small adding on as you grow financially. like add the kids area in later  or have one large room with different mediums set up at each
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2008 04:29:24 PM »

OK - so I'm not the only nutty thinker out there - yeah Smiley
I was thinking something similar recently...I was wondering about more of a store - where you'd have a group of different crafters (both style & medium?) that use the space as a studio kind of "behind the counter" - viewable from the store...so people could actually see the hard work going on (of course there'd be behind the scenes work areas too) - even a classroom (helps with the funds)..
maybe you could encorporate something like that...
just more thoughts to muddle  with...
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2008 09:01:53 PM »

We actually have a "Crafter's Cafe" nearby.  It started out as a coffee room with a light lunch menu.  The women that run it asked crafters to come by and sit and chat while working on their projects.  There's a room behind the lunchroom where they conduct some classes and workshops, or when no class is going on, there is lots of table space for bigger projects folks want to work on. (It is a working cafe, so they really can't tie up all the tables out front as they do conduct a reasonable lunch business with non-crafters.) Those working on crafts sort of have a bottomless cup for beverages and, although the cafe sells pastries and such as well as sandwiches, crafters have also been known to bring in cakes, cookies, etc. to share with other crafters.  They don't sell supplies but they do have shelving around the perimeter on which they sell consigned crafts.  It's a great place to meet other crafters and just sit and chat a while.  Not as elaborate as your vision but still an interesting concept.
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2008 05:35:08 AM »

We actually have a "Crafter's Cafe" nearby.  It started out as a coffee room with a light lunch menu.  The women that run it asked crafters to come by and sit and chat while working on their projects.  There's a room behind the lunchroom where they conduct some classes and workshops, or when no class is going on, there is lots of table space for bigger projects folks want to work on. (It is a working cafe, so they really can't tie up all the tables out front as they do conduct a reasonable lunch business with non-crafters.) Those working on crafts sort of have a bottomless cup for beverages and, although the cafe sells pastries and such as well as sandwiches, crafters have also been known to bring in cakes, cookies, etc. to share with other crafters.  They don't sell supplies but they do have shelving around the perimeter on which they sell consigned crafts.  It's a great place to meet other crafters and just sit and chat a while.  Not as elaborate as your vision but still an interesting concept.

That sounds absolutely awesome!! Mind if I ask where you are from? Feel free to PM me if you don't want it to be common knowledge.

Also- do they have sewing machines there, or just portable handcrafts?

Thanks so much for the info guys!!!
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2008 09:35:10 AM »

I think this is a great idea. I like that it helps create community. This is a place in San Francisco that sounds a little bit like what you're talking about. Check out the link.


http://www.stitchlounge.com/site/?s=lounge
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2008 10:08:55 AM »

I think this is a great idea. I like that it helps create community. This is a place in San Francisco that sounds a little bit like what you're talking about. Check out the link.


http://www.stitchlounge.com/site/?s=lounge

Thank you so much for the link!!
Looks like these people already had my idea, in Boston! LOL
http://www.sparkcrafts.com/
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2008 12:52:53 PM »

Thinking out loud here...

I'd set it up a bit differently. The retail aspect wouldn't be raw materials but the items that the students/members create. There's an art gallery a few towns away from me that does something like that. Each artist has a booth/cubical in the back and customers can visit their work areas. They have some classes but not enough, in my opinion.

Perhaps you could work out a deal with whatever store sells some of the more pricey crafting tools and your clients would get a discount and you'd get a commission.

Stuff that can be bought cheaper in bulk but may often be only needed in smaller quantities might be something good to sell i.e. quilt batting, muslin, needlepoint canvas etc. Maybe set up group bulk buys among the members.

Classes that teach how to make something rather than simply learn how to do something were a hit when I lived in Texas. Their community college system partnered with the local school system and offered community-oriented classes but used the high school facilities - sewing classes in the home ec rooms, cooking in the kitchens, etc. The crafting classes that offered the coolest projects often closed due to over-crowding. I was surprised how many folks were interested. The classes met at night or on the weekends. Some were multiple weeks and others were a long Saturday.

I took a general sewing class where I made a nightgown, a quilting class where we made a quilt top from a number of different squares we learned (still haven't put a backing on mine  Roll Eyes ), and a quilted jacket using a sweatshirt.

Maybe you could even have a sort of buy it or learn how to make it sort of concept.
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2008 10:25:00 AM »

After reading your idea last night and thinking on it a bit, here's is what I would love:

Something like Techshop but for crafting would be AWESOME. The pricing system that I would prefer as a potential customer would be a membership fee, where I could drop in anytime to use smaller tools with perhaps reservations for sewing machine time.

I have my own sewing machine, for example, but I'd love to be able to go in someplace and get time on a serger or embroidery machine. I don't use those things enough to warrant buying one of my own, but if I had access to one, I'd be very happy!

Things like snap presses that you wouldn't want to have to buy, but would use every once in a while - it would be great if I could drop by and use one really fast and perhaps have lunch!

I'm sure there's all sorts of specialized sewing equipment that I don't even know about but would love to have the option of using them once I did!

Another thing that I would love in a craft store would be a selection of natural craft products. You can't find stuff like 100% wool felt in Joann's or Michaels.
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« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2008 11:11:33 AM »

After reading your idea last night and thinking on it a bit, here's is what I would love:

Thank you SO much for putting so much time & thought on this!! You have some excellent thoughts- I considered sewing machines for people who wanted to sew with others, or sew in a place where notions & fabric would be at their fingertips... but you're so right to think about the options most people would love to have occasionally, but wouldn't be likely to spend the money on for the few times they would use it.

A serger, an embroidery machine, a snap press.... even a long-armed quilting machine!

I love it!! Thank you!!!
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2008 12:54:10 PM »

Sounds like a wonderful idea & place!!! I'd go, and I'm not even a social type person!

Here's an idea: wouldn't you make quite a bit of money selling coffee and snacks? Unless it would take up too much time. But you could buy cake mix and sell muffins and coffe etc. If you're crafting for several hours you need to eat, and if people are used to Starbucks prices...
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« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2008 08:19:33 PM »

Good idea!
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2008 01:06:30 AM »

Don't forget to factor in maintenance for any of the machines and think carefully about storage for smaller tools that could "walk away" easily.  I've taken sewing and jewelry making classes and the two biggest problems the teachers mentioned were machines breaking (either through normal wear and tear, or newbies just going at them without learning how to use them first) and class supplies/tools disappearing.  You could try getting a large space and devoting most of it to supplies/gallery for work that's been finished on the premises, and have the actual studio part small and add other kinds of crafts as you're able to.  If you're near New York (or check ebay) you could probably get older industrial machines for relatively cheap and upgrade later on.  I think there's a store in Manhattan that sells used industrial sewing machines for a good price but I can't think of the name at the moment.  The studio part sounds a little bit like the Etsy Labs in Brooklyn so you could check out the website for some ideas on how to manage the day to day stuff. 
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2008 08:10:49 AM »

You know, you could always start small with your favorite craft and grow from there.
Then you could work out the logistics on a smaller scale and as you grow alot of things will take care of themselves.
Sounds like a great venture and a fun place to be.

My local quilt store has a small area for the quilters to come in and sew and they charge $5 and you have to sign up to reserve space........prevents too many people coming in and there not being enough room.
The quilters have to bring their own machines and supplies but there are big work tables and design walls. 
It's just great to have a space to gather and all work on different projects in the same space.

Climb the mountain if you can't start at the peak.  Wink
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threehang
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2008 12:06:38 PM »

That is genius. I would go in a heartbeat! Good luck with your ventures!
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« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2008 02:40:59 PM »

I fell in love with this idea when I read about it!  I have been thinking about the ways of maybe opening something like that here is the Kansas City area, but I can't financially right now.  This would be the best place to work and it would be the best part of my day(besides coming home to my kids)!
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Littleclouds
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2008 02:21:48 PM »

I think that would be an AMAZING place to hang out! The potential is massive & I think planned correctly with enough hard work it could be a nice earner, I think location would probably be a key factor though.

I can't remember the url or name but there is a place in London like this where they hold sewing/hat making etc classes & charge $80 a session per person!
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« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2008 01:03:25 PM »

This is a great idea and I say go for it.  I hadn't even heard of a place like this before.  I agree with most people here and think that having people pay a membership fee or pay for crafting classes is also a great idea.  I am seriously blown away by this idea and when/if you do persue this idea, let me know.  I would travel wherever it is just to go.  It sounds great.  I've always thought about someday opening a place that was sort of like a coffee shop and a crafting store in one with all sort of books, newspapers, and other reading material.  Also a sort of lounge area for people to sit and do their crafts in a welcoming relaxing environment.  I also like to bake things so I always dreamed of selling baked goodies at my fantasy shop.  However, the possibility of me ever creating a place like this is impossible.  I do encourage you to do this though.  It may be expensive, but it will be well worth it.  With all of your great ideas and the wonderful world of advertising, the possibilities are endless.  Good luck with everything in the future!
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« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2008 01:25:38 PM »

I would love to go to a place like that. I could see it being 2 business, run separately but connected on the interior. One would be a craft supply store like a JoAnn Etc. and the other a cafe/crafting lounge with a studio/classroom attached with machines & supplies. I don't think you'd want the food in the same area as some of the crafts because of messy people (like me!). Other crafts that you can do on your lap would be ok to work on in the lounge/cafe. Maybe you could approach someone who already runs a craft supply store that has an empty space next door or would be willing to relocate. It's not too hard to find empty space in retail centers (aka strip malls) right now; there are a lot of vacancies. Then they could keep doing what they know best and you could open up and manage the new part.

BTW, maybe you could get some magnetic strips to put on the handheld tools with a security scanner at the door to keep them from disappearing. It's probably not intentional theft, people probably just toss them in their bag without thinking. Or paint them some obnoxious color so people know right away where they belong.
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« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2008 04:35:20 PM »

Are there any business grants you could get to help you set up, especially as there would be a big educational component (and a very useful one in the current economic conditions - the more we can sew, knit, craft etc. the less we need to buy).  If you were in the UK I would be saying to try for a lottery grant, do you have anything like that?
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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2008 04:38:16 AM »

I think this is an awesome idea, and I agree that you should have a craft STORE and workspace. Another thing you should do is hold monthly (or maybe even weekly?) craft fairs or craft swaps for members and for the general public to come and buy things. You could charge a lower amount for a member to get a booth and charge more for a nonmember, but if you have a nice large warehouse space (or empty grocery store was a great idea), you could just pack it with people. That would be awesome. For an idea like this, marketing and clear explanation of what the place is would be important to get the word-of-mouth ball rolling.
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« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2008 05:41:09 AM »

Are there any business grants you could get to help you set up, especially as there would be a big educational component (and a very useful one in the current economic conditions - the more we can sew, knit, craft etc. the less we need to buy).  If you were in the UK I would be saying to try for a lottery grant, do you have anything like that?

A lot of cities have business development orgs that will give low-interest loans to start up small businesses, and there are some that focus on women or minority individuals. There may also be grants available from the fed., state, or local gov't.

Oooh, check out this article I just found: http://www.pinkmagazine.com/resources/business/financing.html
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2008 09:46:10 AM »

I love this idea!  I go to a local yarn store that has a lounge area, and it's been an inspiration to talk with people making things that look difficult to me.  With encouragement, I got brave enough to make socks and I haven't looked back!  My favorite quilt shop has the same type of table area, but you need to bring your own machine.  They have a weekly UFO time slot (Un-Finished Objects) from 7 pm. to 10 pm, and there's usually at least 5 people who are there.

I'd suggest starting out with two or three crafts on one floor.  For example, if quilting and beading and knitting were in the same space, you'd likely get some cross-over product purchasers.  For instance:  a quilter notices that a pieced quilt on your shop wall has appliqued flowers with beaded details.  You could offer a trapunto workshop, where the students learn to thread yarn and batting into channels to add dimension to their quilts. 

A local store in my town is roughly divided into thirds:  one section is records and CDs.  The second section is books.  The third section is a cafe with sandwiches, pastries and coffee.  In addition to little tables, they have small couches and comfy chairs.  I often see people from the local knitter's guild sitting in the comfy chairs drinking espresso and knitting.  By the way, that group has two men: one who consistently wins blue ribbons at the state fair for his lace, and a twenty-something designer who just started his own knit wear business!  And with the designated eating area, klutzy people spill coffee only on their own projects!
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« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2008 04:31:08 PM »

i haven't read the entirety of this thread (my attention wanders after approximately 3 sentences), but, my 2 cents:

this sounds like a great idea.  i would love to patronize this kind of establishment.  i think it is something that would take a lot of time and effort, and a huge HUGE sense of dedication and a very well developed set of organizational skills.  keeping even one craft room tidy is a logistical nightmare; a house full of separate, specialized rooms sounds like a neat-freak's hell on earth.

i think this is the sort of setup that could be super totally awesome if it was run as a collective. personally, i would definitely burn out right away if i tried to run it myself.  maybe you could find some suitable cohorts with the necessary gumption, each with a specialty area, and they could be official Lord of Whatever Their Forte Be.

Also, i would love to see something that focused more on recycled/repurposed materials than new retail.  i live in portland, oregon, and down the street from my house there's an organization called S.C.R.A.P. (School and Community Reuse Action Center).  they sort and sell (for way cheap) all kind of odds and ends that people donate to them.

also, don't charge an arm and a leg for shit if you can avoid it!  i mean, pay the bills, make some money, but don't make it super expensive!  do it for the love!

OK, that's about all i can think of right now. it sounds awesome and if you can dream it you should do it.
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outbackgirl
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2008 08:01:12 PM »

this sounds like an awesome idea, however you a going to need a mega overdraft.  i think the earlier comment from someone (forgotten who, sorry) that you can't start climbing the mountain at the peak is true. 
a good example of this on a 'small scale' is my friend karen's shop.  she started small with a consignment craft shop with a small range of craft supplies (think a smattering of scrapbooking, cardmaking and patchworking stuff).  as she got established she bought more supplies.  now she has just opened the rear of her shop up and expanded her range of fabrics, notions, scrapbooking and crafty sewing patterns.  she has tables set up for 10 people, along with power points coming down from the roof.  she has a cutting area and ironing station set up all the time.  the local quilting club meets there once a month (instead of the crummy church hall where we used to meet), a lady does a patchworking class once a month, another lady takes a card making class once a month and i do scrapbooking classes once a month.  we also have a crop afternoon once a month.  she takes $5 per person who goes to the classes/crops or who comes to use the space, plus anything we buy while we are there.  she is next door to a nice cafe who deliver phone orders (on china plates and then collect later!)  we live in a tiny town (think 3000 people) which has very few people in any nearby areas so it's impressive that the business does so well.
good luck bringing your idea to life!!!!
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tell_the_bees
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2008 07:19:31 PM »

I love the idea.
I definitely think that membership is the way to go (and for the ones who are hesitant to commit - you can also offer hourly sewing machine rent, just like a cyber/internet cafe) as well as hosting private events.

If you get a big space, I think you should have an actual cafe and serve coffee and snacks for people who need a break between projects.

As for the different rooms/areas for different crafts, I think that you should probably start with a focus on sewing (and maybe knitting as well - doesn't require much equipment) and expand as you business grows.

Good Luck!
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MandaRenee
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2008 12:20:45 PM »

I love this idea and have toyed with it myself.  I've always wondered how it would do in a small town setting, which is where I live.  I can't see how it wouldn't go great in a larger city.  Definitely something to work towards.
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iShallCallYouSquishy
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2010 03:12:32 PM »

I find the idea interesting, but it would cost a ton. And then you have to spread word around to get people to come by.. I love the idea though. If there was one near where I lived, I would just ask my mom to drop me off there after school!
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sugarshoxcrafts
« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2010 12:06:53 AM »

I know this thread is a bit old, but I'm going to push this up too--opening a space like this has always been my dream.  It would be one heck of an investment, but, wow, even if I just came to one of these sewing cafes, it would be like I had died and gone to heaven.  There aren't that many places around me that are devoted to actually making art together with other people, it would be AWESOME to see something like this.  I mean, seriously, would it kill them to do without one less drug store around me? LOL
Also love your daycare idea--other moms would too because if they're like me, my son doesn't even give me five minutes with my sewing machine anymore!  The daycare part would be reason enough for me to come to your center!

This kind of idea would probably do great in the artsy district of your city\town. 
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craftbot
« Reply #35 on: July 26, 2010 06:58:37 PM »

In SoCal there are a couple of shops with similar ideas:

http://www.theurbancraftcenter.com/

http://www.thecraftkitchen.com/


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amandarenee
« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2010 02:43:10 PM »

I think it sounds insane and fun at the same time.  I've really been wishing there was a knit/crochet group around here to meet up with once in a while, but this apparently isn't the craftiest area. 

It could get expensive, though.  That is the only problem I could see.  And you'd have to have a different employee for every room.
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judishaver
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2010 02:10:30 PM »

My job would fire me because I spend all my time in a place like this!!
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celticflame99
« Reply #38 on: October 17, 2010 02:04:27 AM »

I used to be a member of a place like this. It was a club, they had classes, gamer stuff, tools there etc. They didn't have an inventory of stuff, but had tools available to use once you paid took classes to learn how (insurance issue?), also you could go in on group orders for things. Classes cost, monthly membership fee to cover rent etc. It could work, but would be slow at first.
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