by ERIN ROLL
After seven years serving crafters in the Montclair area, Rock Paper Scissors will be saying goodbye this weekend.
The Bloomfield Avenue fabric and craft supplies store is closing its doors for good this Saturday, Feb. 25.
“People have been coming in to say bye, people have been coming in to show their support,” owner Beth Rowan said during an interview with the Montclair Local earlier this month. “And people are just coming in to buy fabric.”
The store opened in the Glenmont Square shopping center in 2010. The “Rock” part of the name refers to beads and jewelry-making supplies; “Paper” to stamps and papercrafts, and “Scissors” to fabric and sewing supplies.
The closing was announced on Jan. 24, in a message that Rowan posted on the store’s blog.
“I think it’s what all small businesses, especially hard goods businesses, go through,” Rowan said. She noted that Montclair is an expensive area to operate a small business in, and that Rock Paper Scissors was a discretionary income store. “We’re getting the most competition from big box stores.”
Additionally, she said, a shop like Rock Paper Scissors is not a store where a pre-made product is taken out of the box and put on the shelves. Instead, it is a shop where staff members have to do a lot of hands-on work, from cutting fabric and putting together sample projects to teaching classes and helping customers. All that amounts to a great deal of staff overhead, Rowan said, in addition to wages and benefits for the staff.
It is not just Rock Paper Scissors that has been facing a challenging business climate: “All of the small businesses I’ve talked to are in the same position,” Rowan said.
However, she said that she and the staff were keenly aware that they would be missed. “We know that we mean something to the community. This is a safe space.” She remembered one customer, a first-time quilter, who came in because she was having difficulty with a project. “I sat in the back with her for 45 minutes,” she said, referring to a classroom in the back of the shop, and that customer has been quilting ever since.
Rowan said that the biggest draws at Rock Paper Scissors tended to be the sewing classes for tweens and teens. The classes brought in students from all over the area: Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Verona and Nutley, Rowan said. There was even one student who took the bus from Newark with her mother so she could attend.
She estimated that the classes were popular with middle and high school students and their families for a number of reasons. For one, many high schools have phased out home economics classes in recent years. “And this is a place that they could come and create. There’s no performance, there’s no score.”
After the tween and teen classes, it was the quilting and garment-making classes that were the most popular with customers, and the shop also featured talks from high-profile figures in the quilting industry like Denyse Schmidt and Amy Butler.
Rowan is looking at expanding Rock Paper Scissors’ online Etsy store into a full website, but she emphasized that the website expansion is a work in progress at this point. “There’s a part of us that will still be here for the community.”
Of Rock Paper Scissors itself, Rowan said, “We’ve loved it. We’ve had our ups and downs; it hasn’t always been easy. Except for raising my beautiful family, I couldn’t be prouder of anything in my life than what we’ve built here.”