How 2 Leading Retailers in the Thriving Arts-and-Crafts Game Compare Side-by-Side

Michaels and Hobby Lobby face off

The arts and crafts business grew 7 percent last year, and some say it's recession proof. Where are all the crafty critters spending their money? Probably at one of these two leading specialty retailers. 

Here's how they stack up against each other:

Full Name: Michaels Stores
Founded: 1962
Slogan: "Where creativity happens"
Home base: Irving, Texas
Number of locations: 1,262
2015 sales: $4.9 billion
Agency of Record: Zimmerman Advertising (Omnicom)

Chuckle if you want, but arts and crafts is big business in America—and not just with glue-gun-wielding grannies. According to Mintel, 45 percent of 30-somethings sold a homemade craft online last year. And when it comes to shopping for all the necessary supplies, chances are they go to Michaels (or Hobby Lobby). Founded by five-and-dime scion Michael Dupey, Michaels is the mother ship of craft stores. Each hangar-size location stocks some 36,000 items, from coloring books to glitter paint. As CEO Chuck Rubin has put it, "We're not Apple." And Michaels really isn't: At a time when ecommerce threatens the existence of brick-and-mortar chains, Michaels' online orders are less than 5 percent of sales. Investment guru Jim Cramer slammed Michaels earlier this year by saying its stores were "in the wrong place on earth, which is the mall." So how is Michaels still around? Turns out that most crafters like to see and touch all that colored felt and candle wax before buying it, and Michaels is a browser's Valhalla. The chain's year-over-year net sales grew 7.7 percent in the second quarter of this year, though management admitted that the retail environment remains "choppy." Not to fear, though. If chopping's your thing, Michaels sells cutting mats and X-Acto knives, too.

Full Name: Hobby Lobby
Founded: 1972
Slogan: "Super Savings, Super Selection!"
Home base: Oklahoma City
Number of locations: 700+
2015 sales: $4 billion
Agency of Record: Saxum

Hobby Lobby made the news quite a bit in recent years—but not because of the hobbies it supports. In 2013, after a Jewish customer complained he couldn't find any Hanukkah merchandise and was reportedly told, "We don't cater to you people" by a store employee, Hobby Lobby apologized. Then came Hobby Lobby's refusal to cover employee contraception under the Affordable Care Act, which turned into a 22-month battle that wound up in the Supreme Court. As you can probably tell, Hobby Lobby is a very private, very Christian company. (Its holiday ad campaigns feature bible quotes, not sale prices.) Yet despite the controversy, Hobby Lobby has been largely unaffected as a business. The company "is experiencing tremendous growth," according to a July press statement, and is on target to open 50 stores this year and another 50 in 2017. Hobby Lobby is known for paying over double the minimum wage, which is part of founder and CEO David Green's family-nurturing business ethos. Green started Hobby Lobby in 1972, building it out of his company Greco Products, which sold picture frames. Today, the giant stocks 65,000 items, from silk flowers to quilting fabrics. Oh, and in the wake of that 2013 debacle, you can also buy menorahs now.

This story first appeared in the October 17, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.