Save Money by Shopping at the Craft Store — Even If You're Not a Crafter

You may think craft stores are just for knitters or only those Martha Stewart types. What you might not realize is that the big chain craft stores, like Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Michaels Stores, and A.C. Moore, are a haven for fantastic buys of all kinds of home and gift items. And you don't need to be even remotely crafty to benefit. Find out what amazing deals await you at your local craft store. (See also: Awesome, Almost Free Upcycled Craft Projects)

Crafty Coupons

Craft store coupons never fail to show up inside the Sunday paper. Weekly ads from the big chains always have 40-50% off coupons and other promotions. In addition, stores sometimes have 10%-25% off total purchase coupons and senior, teacher, and military discounts. You can also find coupons online at the stores' sites or by signing up for store loyalty programs and promotional emails.

Great Selection of Frugal Home Goods

A craft store may not be your first stop to buy an off-the-shelf present or to find home decor, but think again. These stores have a tremendous selection of regular home staples, like decorative planters, baskets, and vases, which you often won't see elsewhere. Affordable seasonal decorations, candles, and inexpensive storage items are also in abundance. Using a store coupon or buying during a sale makes for some of the least expensive home decor around. (See also: Find the Best Stuff at HomeGoods)

Helpful Home Fix-It Items

Instead of hitting the hardware or home improvement store, look in craft stores for a slew of useful home items, such as hooks, rods, spray paint, tapes, adhesives, and small tools. I always use my coupons and shop strategically at craft stores for such items, which saves me about half of the cost of buying them at the other stores.

Affordable Children's Toys and Gifts

If shopping a nearby toy store or online for children's toys is straining your wallet, try browsing the craft stores. These stores have aisles dedicated to affordable children's crafts and toys, which include everything from finger paints to make-your-own jewelry and airplane kits. Use a coupon or take advantage of the many promotions to land a unique and creative kid's gift. (See also: Display Your Art for Cheap)

Frames Galore

Craft stores have extremely economical framing departments. I have framed several large art prints at craft stores, which cost only half the price of a professional frame store. Most of the big stores have dedicated staff in the framing department, which means you can expect high quality and professional advice. In addition, most stores have multiple aisles dedicated to off-the-shelf frames of all colors, types, and sizes. Throw in some coupons and the prices for such items are hard to beat.

Apparel and Jewelry

Short of making your own clothing or necklace, craft stores also sell solid color tees, bandanas, bags, and jewelry items, which you can use as-is. Or, if you have school-aged kids who always need t-shirts for sports or arts and crafts, nothing beats four tees for $10.

Big Savings on Fabric

If you have ever received a professional quote on recovering a couch or ordering custom drapery, then you know it can cost a small fortune. The biggest expense in such projects is usually not the labor, but the actual fabric cost. Head to your local Jo-Ann's and purchase your own fabric to save a bundle. They often have sales of 40%-50% off per yard, or you can use coupons. You can also find the same or similar fabric patterns that you see in high-end home and curtain catalogs for a whole lot cheaper here. (See also: Make Your Own Curtains)

Costumes and Dress-Up

As Halloween approaches, the craft stores see some serious traffic. You can certainly buy a pattern and fabric to make your own, but buying one of the ready-made costumes is even easier. Craft stores carry a big selection of finished costumes, which can often be a lot cheaper than purchasing them elsewhere. In addition, check out the aisles with fun accessories, boas, or other dress-up items to use at theme parties, birthdays, or for general kids' play.

Fine Art Supplies and Stationery

You don't need to be a professional artist to put the many craft store art supplies and papers to good use. If you are looking to make some cheap decor, want to touch up an item, or are attempting a handmade gift, there are plenty of blank canvases, paint brushes, stencils, stickers, and beautiful stationery papers that can yield a whole host of DIY genius. Everything from wall decor to dressing up a candle can be accomplished this way.

Free or Cheap In-Store Activities

If you are looking for something new and affordable to do either by yourself or with the kids, then check out the many low-priced, and often free, class that are offered at big chain craft stores. Most stores have areas in the back with dedicated classroom space, where staff members teach projects and techniques. Everyone loves when they get to take home what they make, and it's an especially fun activity for colder months when the kids need something to do indoors.

So what are you waiting for? Go check out a craft store today and scout out the many affordable deals for yourself. You might just be surprised at what interesting items and good bargains you can find.

What are some of your favorite craft store finds?

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