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Working at Jo-Ann's: Real-World Graduate School

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Message Sandra Lindberg

According to Yahoo Finance, "Jo-Ann Stores has the fabric-store market all sewn up. It's the #1 fabric retailer (ahead of Hancock Fabrics) nationwide, operating more than 800 stores in 49 states. The company sells a variety of fabrics and sewing supplies, craft materials, frames, home decorations, artificial floral items, and seasonal goods. Most of its small-format stores (averaging 15,000 sq. ft.) are located in strip-mall shopping centers and operate under the Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft name. The company also operates large-format Jo-Ann superstores (36,000 sq. ft. on average) and an e-commerce site, The company is owned by acquisitive private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners."

I'll return later to the connection between Jo-Ann Fabrics and Leonard Green & Partners.

Hoover's company profile of this corporation notes that Jo-Ann Stores is rated #202 out of 224 on the Forbes list of privately held companies in the U.S.

Gale Directory of Company Histories reports that Jo-Ann Stores sold more than $2 billion in recent years. Its nearest competitor sells only half as much merchandise, and owns less than half the number of stores of Jo-Ann's empire. .

Sounds like a pretty profitable business. You'd think that would be reflected in the way it treated its employees, its customers, and how it maintained its facilities. Unfortunately, all that profit seems to be going to top-management salaries and to the relentless pace of expansion the corporation demands of itself. With over 800 stores in 48 states now, Jo-Ann is still expanding.

Who runs this fabric and craft empire?

The first store in this chain's history was founded by two immigrant German families, the Rohrbachs and the Reichs. A cool bit of history that the current corporation does not mention in its promotions literature has to do with how women ran, and provided continuity, to the earliest version of this company when the company's founder, Berthold Rohrbach, died in 1943, the same year he and the Reichs founded the company,


"[His] 30-year-old daughter, Alma Zimmerman, went to work full-time at the store with Hilda Reich. Hilda's daughter, Betty, joined the family business in 1947, and she and Alma opened the chain's second store in Cleveland soon thereafter."

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Sandra Lindberg Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Sandra holds a B.S. in theatre, and an M.A. in theatre criticism from Illinois State University. Her M.F.A. is from the Professional Actor Training Program at the Old Globe Theatre--University of San Diego. She also recently completed a Paralegal (more...)

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