Sunday, March 14, 2021

Ben Franklin's Descendants - Former Crafts & Stuff (former Ben Franklin, nee-W.T. Grant) - Cocoa, FL


Crafts & Stuff: Part 2

Crafts & Stuff, despite being virtually wiped from history, is a chain we've actually visited before here on MyFloridaRetail. AFB got out to the Vero Beach location during its closing back in 2019, and explored some of the chain's history there. But today, we're going to expand even further on that history, while looking at photos of their former Cocoa location.

Crafts & Stuff actually traces its way back to 1976, but under an entirely different, but perhaps more familiar name... Ben Franklin!

For the uninitiated, Ben Franklin is a chain of old-school 5&10 stores, which amazingly survives to this day. The group of stores that would later become Crafts & Stuff started out in 1976, when an Atlanta-based franchisee bought out at least 2 former W.T. Grant stores- Vero Beach and Cocoa.

Now, while the I did mention above that Ben Franklin survives to this day, that's not to say they're doing amazing. The chain, like almost every other five and dime, lost a lot of stores in the late 90s/early 00s, with Ben Franklin's saving grace being it's focus on independent franchisees, which allowed some stores to re-orient themselves and survive into the modern day.

A common change that had already been in motion for a while was a change over to being primarily crafting and sewing stores- these were already a common product for these chains, and by the 1990s some stores had already swapped over to the Ben Franklin Crafts nameplate. However, this wasn't enough for our local franchisee, and on New Years Day 1993, signs would be swapped over for a brand new name, Crafts & Stuff.

Look at that map, it's like a whole list of potential blog posts!

Now I don't have a solid date for when the store closed, but it was at least prior to August 2008, as it's mentioned off hand as being closed by then. In 2007, a lightning strike caught a large wooden sign at the plaza on fire, and while the fire was put out before it damaged any stores directly the soot and smoke still caused a large amount of damage. Crafts & Stuff was one of the stores forced to at least temporarily close with much of the store's stock- craft paper, yarn, ribbon, silk flowers, being completely ruined by the smoke. There's a high chance that such a large loss of product, on the eve of a recession, forced the store to close for good.

Ever since, the store has sat completely vacant. Nothing has come in to replace Crafts & Stuff since it's closure in the late 2000s, and even it's sign, seen above, is still in place. With the history over, let's move to some photos.

I find it odd they bothered to at least attempt to cover up the Crafts & Stuff name on the window, when they didn't bother to touch the main sign. Also take note of the trees which are painted directly on the window, a nice touch I think.

This photo shows the counter near on the front-left of the store, checkouts maybe? The Frame Shop and the Kid's Hobby Corner are also visible along the back wall. 

Looking down the center of the store we see more of the sales floor, covered in shelving scars. The decor of this place reminds me a lot of other 90s discount stores, and I imagine it hadn't been touched much since then.

Our final shot shows the right side of the store, much emptier than the rest.

With that, this has been Cape Kennedy Retail, until next time.

1 comment:

  1. That's funny that there was a crafts store in Florida called Crafts & Stuff because we had a store here briefly in this part of Houston in the early 1990s called Crafts, etc.. There may have been a few Crafts, etc. stores around town, but I only remember the one near me. It was in an old Eagle (Lucky) supermarket location that later became a King Saver and Freshville Foods supermarket location after Eagle left. The shopping center also had a McDuff/Radio Shack Clearance Store/Computer City Express, Radio Shack, Color Tile, Hancock Fabrics, Pancho's Mexican Buffet, Hartz Chicken, KFC, CiCi's, and a few other things. Out of all of these, only the KFC still remains, but they tore down their original location and built a new one. Hartz moved to the neighboring shopping center in an abandoned Taco Bell.

    Anyway, Crafts, etc. was not that memorable as a crafts store, but what I remember about them is that they invested heavily into pogs when pogs became the fad toy of around 1993-4 much the same way that fidget spinners became popular a few years ago. It seemed like a large part of the Crafts, etc. store had bins of pogs and pog slammers in them, lol. They even brought in an 18-wheeler full of pogs and put it in the parking lot for a while. It was really quite something!

    The pogs fad didn't last long and it seemed Crafts, etc. didn't last long after pogs lost popularity. Around the same time, Hobby Lobby moved into a neighboring shopping center (first into an old Best Products store, but eventually into an old Kmart) and the likes of Michael's expanded further into my area. Jo Ann became a factor as well, but I can't remember exactly when they entered this area. Crafts, etc. could not compete against those heavyweights in the crafts market.

    I know most of the commenters here are on the younger side so probably most people here have not heard of pogs. I suppose you can look them up on Wikipedia or YouTube to see what they are, lol, but here is a photo of some pretty awesome Kmart pogs! Link:

    Here is a Wal-Mart pog with a very 1990s sounding public service announcement on it telling kids not to play with matches, lol. Link:

    Here is the map of the area is it is now. The former Eagle/Crafts etc. anchor is now a Fitness Connection gym. The old Eagle street sign with it's memorable shape is still up and is being used by the gym as you can see. If you pan the view to the right, the McDuff is now the Aaron's Rents, the empty space with the Mexican artwork is the old Pancho's, the Nana's Asian restaurant is the old Color Tile, the Price Slasher is the old Hancock Fabrics, and the Chimac (Korean chicken place) is the old Hartz Chicken Buffet. Link: