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Craft Business News Briefs - September 2005

Harvest Festival Changes Name

A longtime arts and crafts show, the Harvest Festival, is changing its name to the Original Art & Craft Show.

"Our research has indicated that people's expectations of shopping have changed and we want to ensure our shows have a solid future by adapting to those changes," Lisa Mackintosh, regional manager with DMG World Media said. "It's all part of a change in logo and show elements designed to attract younger shoppers and keep the 33-year-old Harvest Festival vibrant for years to come," Mackintosh said.

Intercontinental Marketing Investigations researched the arts and crafts festival to come up with the new identifying symbols and title. The show, however, will have yet another name. When the old Harvest Festival sets up in Long Beach Oct. 21-23, it will be known as Originals Holiday Gift Show. That's the same name it will be known as in San Diego, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose and Pomona.

"One of the key findings in our research is that our customers are looking for a one-stop shopping experience for those unique items that cannot be found at the mall," Mackintosh said. Changes include "rising stars," arts and crafts enthusiasts who have been practicing the trade for three years or less; a new product showcase; kid-friendly zones where children can learn to create their own arts and crafts; and demonstrations by local artisans.

The Harvest Festival was founded in 1972 in San Francisco, CA.

Close-Knit Cafe Mixes Coffee and Knitting

Kentucky: The increased popularity of knitting prompted Judy Edwards to open Close-Knit Cafe, 311 Wallace Ave., in St. Matthew, Kentucky. Close-Knit has a cafe along with knitting products. "There are other stores throughout the country like this," Edwards said. "But the idea is that we wanted to have a place for people who wanted to knit so they could come in, hang out and stay a while."

"Knitting, an ancient craft, seems to be enjoying a boost in popularity in this age of booming technology because of several factors," Edwards said. "And technology and knitting blend when some younger knitters make cell-phone holders," she added. "It relieves stress, it's relaxing, and you get results fairly quickly," she said about knitting. "And there are a lot more yarns out that weren't out, say, 10 years ago. Someone who is coming into knitting has so much more variety than they used to," she said.

Record Win at Louie Awards

Card designer and manufacturer Meri Meri won a record 13 Louie awards at the 17th annual International Greeting Cards awards ceremony in New York in May.

St. Croix River Valley Arts Council Dissolves

Minnesota: After 20 years and $20,000 in scholarships to high school students pursuing university-level art, the St. Croix River Valley Arts Council is dissolving and will have its final meeting in September.

In addition to the scholarships, the council put on an arts and crafts show and published a newspaper to raise money to buy art supplies for schools and fund after-school art programs.The council started in 1985 when painters, musicians, weavers, potters, writers, jewelers, woodcarvers, naturalists and teachers from both sides of the St. Croix River came together to create an organization in support of local artists. The council sponsored an Arts and Crafts Fair twice a year for awhile, but was down to one a year before the fair was canceled in 2003. Ethel Johnson, 88, a painter from Center City, is the president of the council. Johnson, who paints china, said the council is dissolving because it "ended up being a bunch of old ladies." "We can only do so much if we can't get the youngsters involved," she said.

Priscilla Hauser Has New Show

In the Studio with Priscilla Hauser premieres on PBS September 3rd. Anyone can learn to paint like a pro with step-by-step instructions from Priscilla. Check your local listings for show air times or call your local PBS station for more information.

Culp to Reduce Domestic Yarn Manufacturing Operations

Culp Inc. said it plans to reduce its yarn manufacturing operations by closing one facility, consolidating its chenille yarn business and selling equipment to its supplier. Culp is closing its yarn operations in Shelby, N.C., and consolidating the chenille yarn operations into the Lincolnton, N.C., facility. The company will now outsource the open-end yarns previously produced at Shelby, and will have one yarn plant in Lincolnton for producing chenille and wrap-spun yarns and a small yarn-texturizing operation in Graham, N.C. The company's polypropylene yarn extrusion equipment located in Graham will be sold to American Fibers & Yarns Co. for $1.1 million.

Robert Culp III, chairman and chief executive officer of Culp, said the actions will bring the company's manufacturing capacity in line with market demand. It will trim its work force by 100. The charges are to be recorded in the second quarter of fiscal 2006. Culp expects total pretax charges of approximately $5.9 million, of which $5.1 million is non-cash items.

Michaels Stores Earnings Rise 15 Percent

Michaels Stores said its profit rose 15 percent as it sold more full-priced merchandise and expanded its operating margins. The arts and crafts retailer said its net income for the quarter rose to $30.8 million, or 22 cents per share, from $26.7 million, or 19 cents per share, for the same quarter last year.

Jo-Ann Stores Posts Quarterly Loss

Crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores Inc. said it posted a second-quarter loss as its sales took a hit from sluggish store traffic, and expenses rose. Net loss for the quarter ended July 30, 2005 was $5.1 million, or 23 cents a share. In the same period last year, it posted a profit of $300,000, or 1 cent a share, in the year-ago period. Net sales for the second quarter increased 3.5 percent to $383.8 million from the year-ago period. Same-store sales fell 0.5 percent. Sluggish customer demand forced the company to take bigger markdowns, which, in turn, squeezed its gross margins, the company said. Higher advertising and distribution costs also took a bite, it said. Jo-Ann has been struggling to maintain robust sales as it shifts its focus from smaller fabric-oriented stores to larger arts-and-crafts stores. The company said it opened six superstores and one traditional store in the second quarter and closed nine traditional stores.

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