The New Jersey-based retailer, AC Moore, a friend to the Philadelphia creative community, announced this week that it will close all 145 stores. As news of the crafting mecca’s closure spread, all around the area, you could hear paint brushes, glue guns, sewing machines, and other miscellaneous crafting tools somberly come to a halt.

Philadelphia is a town of creators. Didn’t you hear the excited clinking of knitting needles up and down Broad Street when AC Moore arrived in 2017? You can see its afterglow while strolling through neighborhood flea and Clover markets, and wrapped all up and down our yarn bombed streets.

It’s reflected in the University of Arts students inhaling the smell of fresh canvases and basking in the rainbow of colors to splash across them. And in the Drexel sorority gal enthusiastically buying white t-shirts and a myriad of puffy paints for her next event. And when that same sorority gal becomes a bridesmaid a few years down the road, it’s dutifully wound in a host of carefully crafted “Bride Tribe” accessories.

This May 2019 photo shows a collaborative street art installation between Nikolich and Symmone Salib, a painter and street artist, on a wooden wall in Center City.
Nicole Nikolich / AP
This May 2019 photo shows a collaborative street art installation between Nikolich and Symmone Salib, a painter and street artist, on a wooden wall in Center City.

AC Moore was more than an arts and crafts store.

It was a sanity saver, an anxiety reducer. Living in these trying times calls for “self care,” and for some that started with a simple arts and crafts project or hobby. It’s where we went to find supplies to make our witty, yet poignant, signs for the Women’s March on the Ben Franklin Parkway. It’s where we bought adult coloring books, because nothing is more relaxing than sipping on a glass of wine after a long day, and using a Crayola crayon to jazz up the “F” word.

More importantly, AC Moore scratched our incessant itch to be creators. To live out our Pinterest fantasies, or sometimes fails, and allowed us to have an oasis of supplies for us to exercise our creative muscle.

It was the Willy Wonka factory for art supplies. As I wandered the aisles, I heard the signature tune: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” AC Moore allowed me to dream: I was convinced I was going to be the next Picasso. And it allowed me to fail: Because, really I was someone who refurbished a priceless painting, and turned it into a blurry blob.

While Amazon keeps taking down retail stores, for Philadelphia crafters, nothing will compare to the wonder we feel while walking into a store like AC Moore. When it comes to crafting materials, you need to see it, touch it, ensure it fits within your vision. Until Amazon has that feature (which, let’s be honest, could be in a year or so), online ordering just will not be enough for serious crafters.

On behalf of all Philadelphia creators, thank you for helping our visions come to life for the past 30 years, AC Moore.

Kate Concannon is a freelance writer/editor, born and raised in the Philadelphia area. She’s a cross stitcher, French fry connoisseur, and a word nerd.