What feature of the American economic landscape has disappeared over the past 10 years that has been particularly meaningful to you? Why do you miss this place?
Email us at [email protected] We will broadcast some responses on the air.
Some craft stores have it all – painting supplies, picture frames, DIY holiday decorations, and even kitchenware. But Hancock Fabrics, as longtime customer Joanna Clark remembers the now-defunct retailer, had just had fabric. And that’s what she loved about it.
“It was just rows and rows of fabric – satins, lace and tulle. It was fun to watch and imagine what these fabrics could become, ”she told Marketplace.
Clark, who now lives in Brunswick, Georgia, grew up going to the store with her mother where they picked up the project fabric, thread and buttons that she learned to sew and quilt with. It was there that she bought the fabric to make her ball gown, wedding dress and later clothes for her children.
“I’m not a particularly good dressmaker, but I wanted to be able to say that I had my wedding dress made,” said Clark, who put the dress together over a weekend. “It’s a very simple dress, and it’s bright blue because it was my favorite color at the time.”
She even worked at a Hancock Fabrics factory in Shreveport, Louisiana, for a stint when she was a young adult. She was new to town and that’s how she met friends and found community.
“I worked there part time, about 30 hours a week. And I probably spent a good chunk of my salary at Hancock Fabrics because I was there all the time. I developed a kind of antipathy for 1950s music, ”as she played in the store, she said. “And the problem with working in a fabric store is that no matter how many times you sweep, there will be dust all over the place. “
The Mississippi-based chain, founded in 1957, was one of the nation’s largest fabric retailers with hundreds of stores across the United States. But in 2016, following two bankruptcy filings and growing competition from stores like Michaels and Walmart, Hancock Fabrics announced the closure of its stores. (A store in Paducah, Ky., Is owned by a relative of the chain owner and remains open.)
In his absence, the answer for many customers has been to buy online, but not for Clark.
“It’s just not the same. I want to feel the fabric to know how it’s going to drape over your shoulders or over your hips, or how it’s going to shake when you move it.