Bay Area arts and crafts, home improvement businesses see customers ready to create during COVID-19

One activity Bay Area residents can do from home is decorate drink tumblers. (Courtesy Frisco Craft Studio)
One activity Bay Area residents can do from home is decorate drink tumblers. (Courtesy Frisco Craft Studio)

One activity Bay Area residents can do from home is decorate drink tumblers. (Courtesy Frisco Craft Studio)

From home improvement projects to scrapbooking and crafting, Bay Area residents that are isolating themselves to minimize the spread of the coronavirus appear to be taking matters into their own hands.

Owners of home improvement and craft-related stores in Friendswood, Kemah and League City said while many businesses are experiencing slowdowns and even having to temporarily close, customers have been using this time to stock up on creative supplies both via online portals and services such as curbside pickup.

Keyur Amin, owner of Ace Hardware on West League City Parkway, said the store has had foot traffic despite having just opened at the beginning of the month. Customers frequently come in for cleaning supplies, but also things such as home repair items or barbecue equipment, Amin said.

He said parents are coming in to purchase garden supplies to keep their children entertained at home with various projects.

"A lot of gardening and home repair [items],” he added.

Small arts and crafts businesses in the Bay Area also offer a variety of items to keep residents occupied during longer periods of time indoors.

“We’ve actually seen a large uptick as people have tried to prepare to be home,” said Cari Kerstiemf, the owner of The Scrap Shack in Friendswood. “People need to be crafting."

Last week, the shop started offering curbside pickup and will offer online classes through Facebook Live, Kerstiemf said. There have been many requests for ready-made kits, in which customers have all the supplies for one particular project in one package, she said.

The Scrap Shack will continue to offer various specials, including a $15 coupon good for the month of May with every $50 gift certificate purchase through March 31. Store hours have been modified to Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the time being, according to the store Facebook page.

However, The Scrap Shack could run out of supplies, Kerstiemf added, since one of their distributors in California—where more than 20 counties have directed residents to shelter in place amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak—has closed.

Still, Kerstiemf hopes to continue serving local crafters as long as possible.

“I’m trying to be hopeful that we can at least provide somewhat of a distraction to what’s going on,” she said.

Lizzie Smith, who owns Southern Sass Vinyl & More in League City, said that heat-transfer vinyl products—which are typically used for apparel and shirt making—are selling well during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We have noticed a big downturn with foot traffic, but people are still buying supplies and doing stuff at home,” she added.

The store recently launched its website, and Southern Sass is aiming to meet customers where they are at by taking payment over the phone and using social media to collect orders, Smith said. The store closed its doors March 21 but is offering curbside pickup throughout the week, according to a Facebook post.

Beth Taylor, owner of Taylored Vinyl in Kemah, echoed Smith’s sentiment about the current popularity of apparel-making.

“For whatever reasons, T-shirt making isn’t slowing down, and neither is the tumbler business,” Taylor said, adding that another popular purchase has been the glitter used to decorate drink tumblers.

Taylor said the store, which is still open for business as of March 23, has had a steady flow of in-person visitors as well as a lot of online orders. Taylored Vinyl is offering curbside pickup and lowering its shipping rates for crafters interested in having items delivered, Taylor said.

“Today was a good day,” read a Facebook post written by Taylor on the store’s page March 22. “We stayed steady with customers and only had to put the sign on the door once. Thank you to everyone for being so supportive through all of this.”

Like Kerstiemf, Taylor said she simply wants to keep providing materials to crafters.

“I am trying to be as prepared as possible to keep you guys crafting even if you can't get out and come to the store,” she said in the Facebook post. “Just remember I am here for you!!”

Editor Jake Magee contributed reporting to this story.

Visit this page for up-to-date information regarding the latest Bay Area coronavirus-related news.
By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.



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