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Business makes a crafty relocation

Home crafters will be doing the happy, happy joy dance Sunday, Oct. 7, when Craft Warehouse opens the doors to its new and larger location in Gresham Station.

The store’s signature sign recently was installed above the doors at the former site of Borders Books, ending months of speculation over who would occupy the vacant space and whether the craft store was indeed moving.

“It’s official — we’re going to be here,” said Pete Jameson, manager for Craft Warehouse. “Now that the sign is up, we’re working quickly to make sure we are ready for our target opening date.”

Like elves preparing for Christmas, Craft Warehouse employees have been busy unloading boxes and stocking shelves and pegboards with products. While the store will continue to carry the latest, greatest and cutting-edge supplies for home crafting and décor, this is not the Craft Warehouse that customers are accustomed to seeing.

The new building not only boasts a cozier atmosphere, it also contains more than 25 percent additional floor space for merchandise.

That means expanded departments to reflect current crafting trends, additional display and store model space and a more flexible arrangement for in-store activities.

“The art department, scrapbooking and yarn and fabric areas will all be larger,” Jameson said. “It’s based a lot on where our sales are going, and right now, fabric and yarn are our largest growing departments.”

The store’s Gresham Town Fair location has clearly been bursting at the seams for some time, given the explosion in the craft industry over the past few years.

Accommodating merchandise, scheduled classes, demos and other store activities has meant an ongoing puzzle rearrangement, as employees moved display racks and product in order to hold events.

The new store has a designated classroom area, Jameson said, but the increase in floor space allows greater flexibility in how individual departments not only conduct classes and club meetings, but the way they are able to interact with customers.

“All our shelving over 66 inches is bolted to the floor to meet seismic regulations,” Jameson said, “but any shelving under 66 inches is on wheels. That way, we can roll them out of the way for Make-It-Take-Its, demos and classes. We also hope to offer more classes and demos because of the extra room.”

Craft Warehouse has long been a destination for do-it-yourselfers seeking inspiration or those with a hankering to learn something new. But as folks tightened their purse strings over the past few years, Jameson said, people began to look for activities with little or no cost as a way to pass the time.

“Ever since the economy went bad, we have offered classes and demos as activities for something to do,” he said. “Over time, we found people liked to learn new things, and we found that they were going from one (store) activity to the next. So it’s not only increased sales, but it’s given people something to do.”

With the holidays rapidly approaching, and a still-somewhat sluggish economy, people are thinking ahead to the gift-giving season, with an eye on saving money.

Monica Rees, who works in the quilt department at Craft Warehouse, said crafters are looking for creative ways to use supplies they already have to stretch their holiday budget.

“I think people are turning to homemade gifts for both economic reasons and to repurpose things,” Rees said. “I’ve heard a lot of people are ‘stash busting’ — using what they already have to make gifts.”

Home crafters are notorious for maintaining an assortment of odd bits and pieces in unused supplies. Throwing them out is, well, almost sinful since the idea behind their initial purchase was to save money by making it yourself. But figuring out how to use the leftovers before the pile(s) get out of control is the question.

Rees said a new trend in books shows ways to capitalize on using small collections of fabric, yarn and paper in imaginative ways.

“There’s something cathartic about using something until it’s used up,” Rees said.

Craft Warehouse has been an anchor merchant at Gresham Town Fair for nearly 25 years. Opened in April 1988 as Ben Franklin Crafts, the store was purchased by Camas, Wash., based Jeson Enterprises in the mid-1990s and renamed Craft Warehouse. The company operates eight locations across Washington and Oregon.

The store will maintain a presence at Gresham Town Fair until April, Jameson said, when its current lease expires. It will become an outlet of sorts, carrying some basic supplies, as well as discounted and discontinued items.

But for those thinking ahead to holiday gift-giving, or simply twitching to learn something new, crafting’s mecca is merely around the corner.

“We are excited to be able to offer more classes and demos to help our customers like we always have,” Jameson said. “And we’re looking forward to our annual holiday open house on (Saturday) Nov. 10 in the new store. We will have a lot of activities, door prizes and in-store specials like we always do to kick off the holidays.”