Artists have been turning suffering into success for centuries. Here’s how Michael’s is doing the same amidst the bleak pandemic circumstances.
When Ashley Buchanan took over Michaels Cos., he knew he was taking over a sinking ship. Sales looked lifeless, stores looked messy, and supply and demand was trailing as competitors stacked up online. When the pandemic hit, things became worse as stores were forced to shutter and sales plummeted. But there was soon to be light at the end of this dark tunnel. When stores were finally opened, consumers crowded into craft stores like Michael’s to get their art fix, entertain their families, and essentially do anything that didn’t involve a screen. Sales soared and the company leapt 13 spots in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Big Box.
The rush of consumers could have easily caused Michael’s to go into a tailspin. Instead, it forced it to manifest its own potential. As a reaction to the sales surge, Buchanan began tailoring Michael’s to highlight the “do-it-yourself” aspect, as consumers across America leaned into home renovations, clothes making, card making, and more. He also ensured shelves were constantly stocked, both online and offline, and the supply chain and path to purchase were streamlined to paint a new picture of efficiency the crafts store had never seen before. Online pickup-and-delivery options were tweaked to fit new consumer shopping patterns (like a painter on the hunt for mini sketch books to help make art-based TikTok videos while her gallery is closed) and the company is even experimenting with an online marketplace that would enable arts-and-craft enthusiasts to share ideas, watch instructional videos, and sell their wares.
Brands should look to Michael’s as a rags-to-riches lesson and reminder that, even if you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control the way you react to them.