Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames, 15756 Redmond Way, will launch a year-long 35th anniversary celebration this weekend, with free cake and free “make and take” projects from noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16.
Thirty-five years in the same location is rare — especially considering how much Redmond has grown and changed.
So what’s the secret to Ben Franklin’s longevity?
“I think it’s that we keep finding what people in Redmond want,” said manager Neil Ferguson, whose parents Bob and Shirley Ferguson are the original and current owners.
“They started it as a variety store, before there was Target,” Neil said.
Former residents of San Diego, they chose to open their business in Redmond “for a climate change,” Neil noted. The climate change was agreeable in more ways than one.
“When we became a craft store, we became a destination. … We’re big enough to have a lot to offer, but small enough to change quickly. We’re on the road a lot, looking for new things,” said Neil.
Each year, the Fergusons and their staff members attend scads of specialized craft shows in Anaheim, Dallas, Las Vegas, Tucson, Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere, seeking out the latest tools and materials for hobbies such as floral arranging, framing, beading, quilting and scrapbooking.
“The best thing here is the people, for sure,” Neil proclaimed. “We have great, long-term employees. We don’t have just a few buyers. About 40 people here are involved in some kind of buying so they are passionate and knowledgeable about their departments and they get to know their customers well.”
Along with friendly customer service, the Redmond Ben Franklin store hosts dozens of classes and product demonstrations every month, including free “make and take” events where people can try a new skill or supply and see how they like it. Even shoppers who don’t think of themselves as “crafty” can usually find something that suits their abilities or interests.
And community members, particularly families, may be seeing fewer movies or eating out less often during tough economic times, but “basic crafts have been so popular since the economy changed,” Neil commented.
Customers are looking for things to do at home and rediscovering nostalgic pastimes, he explained.
“Tie-dye kits are making a comeback,” Neil pointed out. “Or making stepping stones for the yard or gluing gems or buttons on frames. We’re seeing more and more families looking for fun and inexpensive things to do.”
Meanwhile, Redmond’s downtown construction boom has been a plus for Ben Franklin, he added.
“Trader Joe’s has driven traffic here. We’re seeing more people from LionsGate Apartments. And Hotel Sierra has a little shuttle van that runs back and forth, or people walk over from there,” Neil said. “The more people downtown, the better for us.”
For more information about Redmond’s Ben Franklin Crafts and Frame, call (425) 883-2050 or visit www.craftsandframes.com.