View Full Version : Hancock Fabrics closing 5 locations, Wal-Mart getting rid of fabric

03-22-2007, 09:20 AM
Sure will make it a lot harder for folks to get fabric when they need it.

Hancocks closing five state stores as company restructures
Staff, customers lament end for two city locations

By Sara Ganus
Business Writer

As a customer and an employee, Barbara Bohler, 55, has come in and out of Hancock Fabrics at 3641 NW 23 in Oklahoma City more times than she can remember.
Wednesday was her day off. She came in anyway.

"You all behave yourself now,” she says to her two granddaughters and one of their friends. "OK, go look at the trimmings.”

Bohler brought her granddaughters to Hancock to pick out fabrics for new blouses. But after shopping there for at least 35 years and working there for two, she saw something that she had never seen before: closing signs.

"When the manager told us, I said you've got to be kidding,” she said. "This store has been here forever. It just won't be the same.

"I was surprised when I pulled up today and saw ‘Store Closing' signs.”

At least five Hancock Fabrics stores in Oklahoma are scheduled to close in about 12 weeks as part of the recent announcement that Hancock Fabrics Inc. will shutter 104 of its stores, said Bryon Konen, manager of the NW 23 Street Hancock Fabrics.

Konen, who has about 10 employees, said his location and one at 2111 W Britton Road are the only Oklahoma City area stores affected, but stores in Lawton, Enid and one in Tulsa also will close.

The two Oklahoma City locations are the oldest in the area, Konen said.

After announcing the closings earlier this week, Hancock Fabrics Inc. on Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of its plan to reorganize the company.

It reported assets of $241.9 million and debts of $161.4 million in its Chapter 11 petition.

Both announcements came only a month after the company said sales fell 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter, and it would close 30 stores — bringing the total number of store closings to 134.

Previously, Hancock had more than 400 locations.

The company has said it is working with a national liquidation company to help with inventory sales. It's also working with a real estate company to shed the stores' leases.

"I was told we're not technically part of Hancock's anymore; we're run by a liquidations company now, and they have us on a 12-week program,” Konen said.

Ann Koss, manager at the Britton location, declined to comment.

With only 12 weeks of business left, longtime customers and employees, like Bohler, already are lamenting the loss of their favorite fabric store.

"This is like a family member dying,” Debbie Bass said as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "We've all been like a big family. We're not just employers and employees, and we're not numbers. We're a family, and we've been treated that way by our customers, too.”

Bass said she became an employee two years ago after shopping at the Britton Hancock location since it opened about 35 years ago.

"I shopped here two and three times a day,” she said.

Bass said that even though some of the other locations will remain open, many of the older customers won't be able to drive an extra 10 miles to the nearest store.

"There are a lot of customers who are upset, and with Wal-Mart closing their fabric department, everybody's pretty shook up about it because their source is going to be gone,” she said.

Although the "closing signs” haven't been posted at her store yet, Bass said she's fearing the day they go up.

"Like we've all said, when that sign goes up, that's when it's really going to hurt,” she said. "That's when it's really going to get hard.”

Mary Reeves, 51, said she comes to Oklahoma City each week from Hollis — about 180 miles away. Each time, she stops at the Hancock Fabrics on NW 23. If she's not in Oklahoma City, she stops at the nearest location in Lawton.

Both will be gone in about 12 weeks.

"I won't be able to get fabric anymore,” Reeves said. "When (the manager) told me the one in Lawton is closing, I said, ‘No, no, it can't be.' I just don't know what we're going to do.”

Clutching two fleece blankets, Reeves' eyes began to water.

"They just shouldn't close that many,” she said. "There are a lot of people that sew. They make quilts for the needy. They make quilts for the children's hospital. I just can't believe this.”

Calls to the Hancock Fabrics district manager were not returned.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Wal-Mart to elimate cut-fabric departments
Most of Wal-Mart's new and remodeled stores opening in 2007 and a small number of existing stores will replace their cut fabrics departments with crafts and celebration centers, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jami Arms said Wednesday.
In those stores, Wal-Mart still will have merchandise that will meet customers' party-planning needs, but cut fabrics no longer will be available, Arms said.

Wal-Mart will continue to carry sewing machines, yarn, needles and threads.


Hancock Fabrics store closings:
•3641 NW 23rd St.

•2111 W Britton Road

•4415 NW Cache Road, Lawton

•4125 W Owen K Garriott Road, Enid

•4959 S Peoria Ave., Tulsa

03-23-2007, 11:58 AM
I wonder where people are going to find their fabrics now? Are people just not sewing anymore? I know my mother and aunt would be very sad if there was no where to go.

03-24-2007, 05:18 PM
I used to live near 23rd and Portland and I would miss Hancock's. Now I live near NW Hiway and Rockwell and go into that one often. But closings like this happen because the stores just don't have the sales numbers. People just don't seem to buy fabric much these days.