Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Craft Companies Enjoy Boost from Economic Woes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Craft Companies Enjoy Boost from Economic Woes

Article excerpt

By Debra Hale Associated Press CHICAGO _ Craft companies are getting a boost from the recession as aging and penny-conscious baby-boomers look for economical pastimes from basket-weaving to T-shirt decorating.

Sales of craft supplies more than tripled in seven years, from $1.8 billion in 1984 to $6.8 billion in 1991, according to Hobby Industries of America, a trade group of 2,400 companies that make or sell craft and hobby products.

"Historically, the craft industry has been counter-recessionary. So, when the economy is in trouble, the craft industry is flourishing," said Marie Clapper, publisher of Crafts 'n Things magazine in suburban Des Plaines.

The industry can be expected to keep growing even if the economy improves because the market isn't saturated, said Scott Emerman, who follows specialty retailing for Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. in New York.

The growth of crafts goes beyond their affordability, Emerman said.

"It's also a form of entertainment," Emerman said. "And it's a little more personal."

Such are the attractions for Ruth Nystedt, shopping for crochet materials recently at a Leewards store in suburban North Riverside. Nystedt said she sells some baby afghans but crochets mainly for enjoyment.

"It's almost like aspirin. It's really relaxing. And then you have something you've created," she said.

Nystedt has noticed the growing interest in crafts.

"I have several friends who do so many crafts that they took evening jobs to work on crafts all day, and on weekends they go to craft shows. .

.It's relaxing, and they make money," she said.

Valerie George, a mother of two in Conway, Ark., turned her hobby of making things out of fabric _ from dolls to rabbits to painted clothes _ into a parttime business.

She and four other women run a cooperative store at a tourist village called Pickles Gap. Each woman runs the store one day a week. …

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