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A Superstore for Crafters (HobbyCraft Store)
Huge wide range of different craft materials available here, and lots of choice .
More expensive than buying the same things online frequently .
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Hobbycraft is one of those shops that if you're like me and a crafter it's easy to spend all day in when you first come across the place. It's like a giant supermarket of craft supplies really with different isles dedicated to different types of crafting. At first glance, the place sells everything you could possibly want and then some.
Actually, when Hobbycraft first came to our town, I spent quite a lot of time wandering round in there looking at all the new and interesting stuff that they had, and imagining myself trying all sorts of different crafts that I'd not yet tried.
The variety of crafts that they sell materials for is huge and varied, and covers everything from knitting and crocheting, cross stitch and embroidery, to painting, pastel, pencil and charcoal drawing and other art. Then there are things such as decoupage, card making, bead work, model making in clay, fimo and other medium such as wood and plastics. They also sell ribbon, material, fake flowers for arranging or cake decorating, oasis to put the flowers into, tools for miniature wood turning and carving, and card and paper in all shapes, sizes, colours and thickesses.
For me, the problem comes when you have a hobby and know something about it already and go in there looking for something specific. It's not impossible to find what you're after, being as they do sell so much, but the price you'll pay for the items is generally a lot more than you'd pay anywhere else. Now I admit that when you are in the middle of an embroidery pattern and realise you've run out of a particular thread it is incredibly useful to be able to nip in there and pick up a skein of thread rather than having to order online and wait for several days for it to arrive, but I do object to paying through the nose each time, and it does often put me off using the store on a regular basis for things.
Another problem I have, is that although they do sell a lot, once you get deeply into a hobby, you often want more than just the basics, and often what they sell does seem to be mainly just the basics for each hobby. This makes it a great place to go for new ideas and inspiration, but not so great for when you know what you want already.
One good thing I'll say for them is that they have a pretty wide range of leaflets that you can just take away for free. I crochet, make jewellery, do decoupage, and well several other things too, but I have had the odd leaflet from there which has been useful like one with a pattern for a crocheted robin, and others with ideas for things I've gone on to do with nieces and nephews at various times.
Our store is on two floors, and the layout is pretty good - I don't know if all stores are laid out the same way, but with ours they're pretty good at how each section is grouped together. So you'll find all the wool and all the embroidery silks, and so on in one area, and then you move on to another section where you'll find decorative papers, and embellishments and boxes that you can decoupage onto, and then further back are art materials etc. It does make access pretty easy, and their stairs are nice and wide and easy to walk up, and they also have a lift which makes access for anyone with a pushchair or wheelchair or who like me is just unstable on their feet sometimes much easier too.
Staff are usually pretty good in there for helping you I find. When my mum asked me to get her a particular DMC thread colour a member of staff took me to the right section and took the time to ask me which thread I wanted and to find it for me rather than just waving me in the right direction as you get in some stores. About the only problem I have with staff is that the tills are often undermanned especially on weekends which can mean you have to queue for a while before you can pay and get out of there.
Overall I do like the store, especially if I just want a browse and to get new ideas for things to do. I'd prefer it if they'd keep their prices a little lower which I'm sure they could, but as they're often the only place in a town where people can buy many of the craft materials they sell, I guess that's why they get away with charging what they do.
Summary: Good for beginers or if you don't like buying off the internet, or for when you want it 'now'!
*Note this is for the high street shop, not the website - I note this purely because for some reason the website and the shop are both listed asking for details about purchase tracking and things - ciao's error I think rather than mine, I've checked and double checked and I'm definitely in the right place with this review.*