Norwalk mayor, business officials appealing to Pat Catan's parent company

Zoe Greszler • Jan 31, 2019 at 3:00 PM

The parent company of Pat Catan's announced Wednesday it is closing all of the arts and crafts stores in the chain, including the store in Norwalk.

But local officials aren’t giving up hope.

That’s because Michaels Companies Inc. officials have said as many as 12 of the 36 Pat Catan’s stores being shuttered will reopen as new Michaels locations later this year. While the company has identified the 12, it has not revealed them to the public.  

Huron County Auditor Roland Tkach said the location’s lease information, as well as sales tax information, is private information not provided to the county government.

“I hope they reopen, though,” Tkach said, “because it’s a great spot for people get all their crafty stuff. It’s pretty convenient.”

The local store didn’t appear to be struggling, Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said.

“From my regular communications with the store manager, they see to be doing well at this location,” he said.

The mayor said the city, chamber of commerce and Norwalk Economic Development Corp. (NEDC) are making “a strong effort” to make Norwalk one of the locations reopened as a Michaels. He said they have written to the mother company requesting as much.

“If any of our citizens want to to contact Michaels and request that they consider our location, we encourage them to do so and they can Google that information,” he said.

Duncan said Norwalk offers a “central location,” being nicely situated between Cleveland, Toledo, Lake Erie and Columbus. Plus, he said, there aren’t any Michaels stores nearby, nor are there many arts and crafts stores around the area.

“Norwalk is just a good fit,” he added. “Obviously we don’t want to see that store close, especially with the Norwalk Arts Council and Imagine Norwalk and those kind of good things happening in the city right now. But also, we really draw from all the surrounding areas. I’ve even run into a couple of people from Sandusky (who) shop at Norwalk instead of the Sandusky store because they said its a nicer and bigger store.”

In addition to the Norwalk store, Pat Catan's has 35 other locations throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia.

The news of the closings comes less than three years ago after Michaels Companies Inc. purchased the Pat Catan’s chain for $150 million. The Texas-based Michaels is the largest arts-and-crafts retailer in North America, boasting more than 1,100 stores in 49 states and Canada.

The Pat Catan’s chain “has struggled in the face of industry headwinds,” said Chuck Rubin, Michaels chief executive, in a statement published by MarketWatch.com. For the month so far, the company said it has “seen more volatility in costumer shopping behavior” than expected.

It is unknown how many employees will be affected by the closing of the Norwalk store.

A manager said he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media and provided contact information for Michaels spokeperson Julia Young.

When asked when the Norwalk location would be closing its doors, Young said crafters could continue to shop there at least a few months.

“While we have identified 12 stores that we would like to rebrand as Michaels stores, we must complete the lease negotiation process for each store before we can confirm publicly which stores will be rebranded,” she said. “Dates will vary, but we expect that most of the Pat Catan’s stores will stay open through the fall, as we transition through the liquidation process.”

The “difficult decision” to close the Pat Catan’s retail stores came “after a comprehensive review,” Young said in a prepared statement.

“We intend to rebrand and reopen up to 12 as new Michaels locations later this year and we are actively exploring ways we can honor the Pat Catan’s brand in The Michaels Companies,” Young said. “We will continue to maintain a support center in Strongsville to support our growing Darice wholesale business as well as the Strongsville DC to support the Michaels Companies. We are committed to providing opportunities for all impacted team members and are working closely with our staff and the local communities to help manage through this transition.”

The Norwalk location opened in 2016 in the building at 80 Whittlesey Ave., which at the time was nearly 12 years old and already had been home to three different grocery stores.

Tops Friendly Markets opened in the then-new building Oct. 20, 2004 and closed Dec. 8, 2006. Giant Eagle closed a year and one day after it replaced Tops. Valu King Food Market followed, occupying part of the building and lasted just six months. The entire building then remained vacant until Pat Catan’s arrived.

In 2015, when it was announced Norwalk would be getting a Pat Catan’s, the chain still was owned by Lamrite West — the Strongsville-based company founded in 1954 by its namesake, Pat Catanzarite – better known as Pat Catan.

After serving in World War II, Catanzarite returned to Ohio, where he opened a display and props service that worked with Cleveland department stores such as Higbee’s, Halle’s, Linders and Rosenbloom to supply window decorations for their stores.His successful display company, coupled with his own personal interests in designing toys and jewelry, led to the opening of his first craft supply store called Lamrite in 1954 on Cleveland’s east side.

The retail business that Catanzarite started eventually expanded to serve communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia and Indiana. The name has evolved over the years from Lamrite to Pat Catan’s Lamrite to just Pat Catan’s.

Catanzarite died in 2003 at age 81. He was still working for the business up until a few weeks before his death.

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