The Jo-Ann fabric store in Keene is preparing for liquidation as an employee said it looks to close early next year.
The store in the West Street Shopping Center will hold a liquidation sale starting Sunday, according to the employee. Most inventory, excluding Cricut products and sewing machines, will be discounted, the employee said, and the shop will fully close Jan. 22, with its lease expiring at the end of that month.
The employee asked not to be named in The Sentinel because they do not want to jeopardize their employment before the store closes.
Signs posted at the cash registers referenced the store closing sale beginning Sunday.
Jo-Ann Stores — the retailer’s corporate headquarters — said it could not immediately provide someone for comment Tuesday on the closure, and a reporter did not receive responses to emails sent previously about rumors the store would be shuttering. The West Street Shopping Center’s leasing agent also could not be reached for comment Tuesday or previously.
Keene store staff were notified of the planned closure about six weeks ago, though were not given a reason, the employee said.
“It’s been tough; it was a shock and a disappointment,” the employee said. “I wish they would have relocated us instead of closing down.”
Jo-Ann is a nationwide crafts and fabrics retailer based in Hudson, Ohio. The Keene store opened in the 1980s, the employee said, and has carried items like fabrics and crafting supplies, knitting notions, home decorations and scrapbooking products.
The employee said Jo-Ann Stores gave Keene staff the option to transfer their job to other Jo-Ann locations, but only one employee currently plans to take the offer given the challenges of either commuting or personally moving.
“It’s hard for most of us because we’re from Keene and the nearest Jo-Ann is an hour away at least,” the employee said.
The closest Jo-Ann store to Keene is in Leominster, Mass., while the nearest stores in New Hampshire are in Nashua and Concord, according to the company’s website.
The closure news follows crafts retailer Hobby Lobby’s plans to open in the same Keene shopping center, in the space formerly housing JCPenney. The Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Hobby Lobby carries similar craft-supply stock as Jo-Ann.
A date on Hobby Lobby’s launch has yet to be confirmed by the company or the shopping center’s leasing agent, but the store’s signage has been installed in the past several months with the interior appearing to be undergoing renovations.
Although unclear if this factored into Jo-Ann’s closure or if it would apply to existing businesses in the plaza, Hobby Lobby’s lease, filed Jan. 18 of this year and available via the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds’ website, states the retailer shall be the sole business in the shopping center to primarily carry “art supplies, craft supplies, fabrics, photo frames, frames, framed art, wall art, and wall decor.”
Other businesses in the shopping center are permitted to carry these items, but they are limited to sales of less than 10 percent of any gross sales area, measured from the center of the business’ aisles, the Tenant’s Exclusive clause says in the lease. The other exception is if sale of these items does not exceed 750 square feet of the tenant’s gross sales area, the clause states.
Hobby Lobby has not responded to several messages from The Sentinel since late last year seeking further information on the store’s plans to open in Keene.