MOUNT VERNON – For the last nine years, Pat Catan’s has served as Knox County’s lone major arts and crafts retailer. On Tuesday, employees of the Coshocton Avenue store were informed that their location will be one of 36 across the midwest to close in the near future.
Krista Gaumer, assistant manager, said Thursday that a Michaels representative came to the store two days prior to share the news. The Michaels Companies, Inc. has owned all 36 Pat Catan’s stores since 2016. The company announced publicly Wednesday that it will soon be shutting down all but 12, which will be rebranded as Michaels stores.
Michaels has yet to announce which stores it will keep open. While the majority of the stores are located in Ohio, there are several in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan.
Gaumer said they will know more about the store's future within the next 60 days. Closures could happen as soon as “September or October,” Gaumer speculated.
“It’s still up in the air,” she said.
Michaels Companies CEO Chuck Rubin said in a statement that Pat Catan’s storefronts have “struggled in the face of industry headwinds” during recent years. Michaels plans to continue its growing wholesale business and keep open the Strongsville, OH distribution center heading forward.
“We believe these changes will provide more value for customers and shareholders by enabling us to leverage a more consistent merchandise assortment and eliminate duplicative retail operating expenses,” Rubin stated.
“This was not an easy decision, and I am grateful for the contributions of our Pat Catan’s Team Members. As we work through the closing process, we intend to provide employment opportunities or transition support for all Team Members.”
Michaels representatives told Mount Vernon store employees that they would help them through the closing transition. Gaumer said the company has “established a communication line” with her store, but it’s still too early to tell if they will be absorbed or shuttered.
“It’s still the early days,” said Gaumer, who could not confirm how many employees work at the store. “It’s going to be a while before we get anything definite. We’re, of course, hoping that we’re the ones that get to stay.”
Local residents are hoping the store stays, too. Gaumer said “every other phone call” the store has received since Wednesday has been about whether or not they would be closing for good. Right now, she doesn’t have an answer.
“We get a lot of customers wanting to know when things are going to be going on sale or (on clearance) or whatever,” Gaumer said. “But unfortunately, we don’t even know that yet.”
Several customers voiced concerns about the closure at the store on Thursday afternoon.
Deb Beach, of Fredericktown, said she shops at Pat Catan’s “quite a bit” and heard about the news Wednesday night. She said she comes to the Mount Vernon store for its extensive selection – shelves upon shelves of fabric, crafting supplies, home decor and more.
“It’s sad,” said Beach, clutching a spool of grey yarn. “Everything you want, you can get at Pat Catan’s.”
Gaumer believes that Pat Catan’s fills a need in the Knox County community, as it is the only retail craft store of its size. Wal-Mart has a limited supply of crafting items, while The Makery, located in downtown Mount Vernon, sells yarn and other goods.
Gaumer said the Mount Vernon store has attracted a loyal customer base over the years.
“You’ve got a big Amish community, you’ve got a lot of retired people, you’ve got a lot of people that just love crafting,” Gaumer said of the community. “You’ve got the Knox County Fair, cross-stitching, stuff like that. There are a lot of do-it-yourself-ers here.”
Pat Catan’s routinely attracts customers from outside Knox County because of its affordability and selection, Gaumer said. That proved to be true on Thursday afternoon, when two different customers from the Bellville area perused the store’s aisles at the same time.
One was Tommie Moore, who caters for weddings and other local events. Standing in the tinsel aisle with a full cart, Moore was asked how she felt when she heard the news on Wednesday.
“Broken-hearted,” she responded.
Moore said that if Pat Catan’s closes, she will have to go to the Mansfield Hobby Lobby as a last resort. But it won’t be the same, she said.
“They’re just always so friendly, and almost always have what you want,” she said of Pat Catan’s. “If they don’t, they’ll get it in for you within a couple days.”
Lisa Smith, who perused the signage aisle on Thursday, said she also regularly makes the 30-minute trip to the Mount Vernon store. She heard the news for the first time that afternoon and was shocked.
“We have nothing around locally, anywhere, but this,” she said.
Smith has long been a Pat Catan’s die-hard; before the Mount Vernon location opened, she used to travel an hour to the Strongsville store for decorating supplies.
“Don’t let it close down,” she pleaded.
Interestingly, Gaumer was a part of the staff that opened the Mount Vernon Pat Catan’s in 2010. She has worked at all three central Ohio locations over the last nine years (there are stores in Delaware and Wooster as well).
Gaumer said she and her staff were surprised to hear the chain would be closing soon.
“We were all surprised I think,” Gaumer said. “I think something like this kind of store, especially in Mount Vernon, there’s really nobody else in town like this.”
Despite the local demand for a place like Pat Catan’s, Gaumer admitted that no retail business is safe now with the rise e-commerce giants like Amazon.
“You hear about Kmart, Sears and stuff going down,” she said. “And unfortunately, things like Amazon – even though it’s great that you can shop at home, it’s really tough for brick-and-mortar stores.”
Michaels, which is based in Irving, Texas, noted in its press release that Pat Catan’s brought in $111 million in fiscal year 2018. Michaels expects it will cost $44 million to $48 million after taxes to close the chain. That will include costs associated with the termination of remaining lease obligations, the write-off of fixed assets, costs associated with liquidation, and employee-related expenses.
According to its website, The Michaels Companies, Inc. is North America's largest specialty provider of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall décor, and seasonal merchandise. The company owns and operates more than 1,200 stores in 49 states and Canada under the brands Michaels, Aaron Brothers and Pat Catan’s.
Cleveland.com reported earlier this week that The Michaels Companies, Inc. bought Pat Catan’s, “a locally funded, family-run crafts and decor retailer,” for $150 million in 2016. After the merger, Pat Catan’s stores across the midwest continued to operate independently under Michaels. A spokesperson told Cleveland.com that Pat Catan’s employees were all able to keep their jobs during the transition.