If you’re a die-hard DIYer, you have your craft haunts for every medium you explore—your favorite fabric store, your favorite spot to get washi tape, the best local paper store, or even the best place to find wood scraps or doll parts. Luckily, makers are sharers…and usually opinionated ones.
So if you are looking to find something beyond the Hobby Lobbys and the JoAnns in either your hometown or while on vacation (admit it, you’d visit an awesomecraft store over a tourist attraction any day), just check out the highest rated stores on Yelp. Generally the well-loved locales all have these three things in common:
Here is a synopsis of 6 of the most revered crafty shopping spots from the most creative cities, East to West and North to South.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: ARCH Art and Drafting Supply
Rave reviews: Super-friendly; complete professionals; trouble in a good way; a neighborhood gem; one-stop shop for artists. 4.5 Stars
Discount: 10% for teachers and students
Customers love love LOVE this store! Most reviewers comment about how organized the merchandise is, and labeled “with random helpful notes about the products and prices, when items are oversold or out of stock, etc.” Unlike most art stores, ARCH caters more to designers and architects than to fine artists, with a large selection of mat boards, model-making supplies, and specialized pens and markers. One reviewer even bragged about her score of scraps from their free scrap bin.
And when it comes to their selection, “ARCH has all of those strange and picky things that artists need to have. Calligraphic nib pens? They have it. Miniature trees for a stop-motion animation? They have 30 sizes. They have all manner of ribbon, butcher string, drafting marker, charcoal pencil or delicate paper you’ve been looking for.”
They also get major props for cool gift shop items and their cute Boston terrier, Otto. When in doubt, have a store dog.
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NEW YORK CITY (Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens): ARTIST & CRAFTSMAN SUPPLY
(image via Rain Embuscado)
Rave reviews: well-stocked; goldmine of an art supply store; most amazing hidden gem; huge inventory; so helpful. 5 Stars
Discount: 10% for teachers and students
It’s pretty impossible to pinpoint the single best craft store in New York City, since there is a district for everything you could possibly want: fabric, floral supplies, paper, beads. But outshining all of the general art and craft stores in the Big Apple is this small chain, Artist & Craftsman.
According to one reviewer, “not only do they have a vast assortment of bonafide art supplies—silkscreening, sketching, painting, everything under the sun—they have a ton of crafty things for kids…” Most are deceived by the small storefront, saying that beyond the doors is a “labyrinth” of supplies.
Their supplies are not the run-of-the-mill craft store fare. Yes, they have paints, canvases, glues and the like, but they also sell assorted animal masks, various-sized plain paper-mache gift boxes, grab bags of wooden craft shapes, and even bags of rocks (Because in New York, rocks are hard to come by.). They sell materials you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw them on their shelves.
Plus they offer various workshops including writing workshops. As one reviewer so aptly put it: “Get transported into a world of infinite possibilities.” You can’t ask for much more in an arts and crafts store.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: TOP’S ART SUPPLIES
Rave reviews: Mom and pop shop; very helpful and friendly; fundamental for the starving artist; well-organized; artist-friendly. 4.5 Stars
Discount: 10% discount for students and teachers (unless it’s a sale item)
Reviewers love the wide variety of genres that Top’s Art Supplies carries: from basic art to fashion design materials to kids’ products. They also have a large selection of important items that are hard to come by in other art stores, including a beautiful selection of handmade, imported papers.
Here are 2 great examples of the unusually good customer service:
One reviewer was pleasantly surprised by the honesty of the shop owner. He steered her towards a less expensive brand of colored pencils because they suited her skill level better than the ones she had set out to buy.
Another reviewer said, “Although I usually show up around or after the 6pm closing time, they never rush me and offer candid and invaluable advice with a warmth and wisdom one would expect from one’s grandparents’ home.”
With all the online and big-box options out there, another reviewer says that “they have great deals and sometimes it feels good to do business at place that treats you like a guest, rather than a number.” Amen to that.
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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: DISTRICT FABRIC
Rave reviews: Rustic and artisanal; not snooty; delicious fabric; beautiful display; very thoughtfully curated; unique selection. 5 Stars
Discount: 10% for students and teachers
Sometimes the high-rated stores aren’t necessarily the most reviewed ones. Take District Fabric in Seattle, for example. With only seventeen reviews (at the time of this article’s post), sixteen of those were the full 5-star grade on Yelp.
District Fabric focuses on clothing fabrics (“not a Calico or upholstery roll in sight”). One reviewer was “floored by the selection of silks, linens, shirting cottons, wools, and knits.” She goes on to say, “Are you looking for a Calvin Klein wool? Silk duponi? French cotton? Italian shirting cotton? She has it. If you’re looking for a sequined knit, a sheer crepe de chine, a lightweight wool crepe… she also has it.”
Because of the organized display, “you can get a sense of the scale of the pattern as well as the weight and drape of the fabric without ever having to make a scene unrolling and clumsily holding up a bolt of fabric.” If you’ve spent any time in a fabric store, you know how painful and sweaty this practice can be.
Quality over quantity seems to be the reigning praise with this batch of reviewers. “I don’t think it matters that this shop is small, it’s what inside that counts.”
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HOUSTON, TX: TEXAS ART ASYLUM
Rave reviews: Incredible knick knacks; awesome, unique, artsy thrift store; hidden treasure; the most amazing place ever; incredibly cheap prices. 4.5 Stars
Based on Yelp reviews, the only way to sum up the vibe of Texas Art Asylum is with this sentence: “It’s an art geeks treasure kingdom!” Advertised as “part craft store, part thrift shop, part antique shop and part salvage yard,“ this is the kind of store where you find things that you didn’t know you wanted or needed. “Fabric, buttons, corks, bottle caps, jewelry, books, magazines, National Geographics, purses, antiques, ribbon, old photographs, beads, doll parts, stationary, tins, bottles, jars, toys, stickers, picture frames, transparencies, etc.”
(Photo courtesy of Robyn Arouty Photography)
While not a typical craft or art store, Texas Art Asylum sells unconventional materials that are begging for a second life in a project. As one person put it, it’s “not just for artists. This place calls to anyone with an eye for repurposing.” Plus they offer classes or the opportunity to throw an “artsy-craftsy party with your friends.”
With such rave reviews, Texas Art Asylum need not spend any money on writing ads or taglines—everything they’d ever need to say about their store is right there on Yelp! If you plan to visit, give yourself a big chunk of time. According to one enthusiastic reviewer, “Be prepared to spend hours or even all day!”
PORTLAND, OREGON: SCRAP
Rave reviews: SCRAP will inspire you; so cheap; so magical; DIYers Heaven on Earth; surprisingly well-organized; a weird ass collection of stuff. 4.5 Stars
“Every single town should have a SCRAP!” says one reviewer. And that’s pretty much the sentiment across the board on Yelp. But beware. According to another customer, “It’s hard to go to SCRAP for just one thing.”
SCRAP is a donation-based creative reuse store and donation center in Northeast Portland, says their website. At SCRAP, you can find “all kinds of reused materials for arts and crafts—plus school, office and party supplies. We also offer a small collection of new and necessary items, like glue and foam brushes.” Their donations diverted 140 tons of usable materials from hitting landfills. One word: amazing.
One teacher writes that “with not much money to spend, SCRAP gives me the opportunity to give my kids arts and crafts for pretty much nickel and dime prices.”
Another thing that makes this place super unique is that “they’ve also got a boutique of gifts made from recycled items—think beer bottle caps made into earrings, hats made from reused felt, clocks made from old records.”
There’s also a membership program (it’s being revised now) and according to members, it definitely has its privileges.
(Unless otherwise noted, all photos come directly from Yelp or the store’s website. All quotes are directly from Yelp reviews.)
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