Roberts Arts and Crafts will be closing its stores come January.
Representatives of the craft store, which first opened in Provo in 1963, announced on Wednesday that they will be closing all the Roberts stores -- located in American Fork, Orem, Provo, South Jordan and Washington -- to focus on online sales. A company representative wouldn't comment on how many employees will lose their jobs.
"I am very upset," said Kristy Bonham of American Fork, where the chain has its headquarters. "Roberts was one of my main crafting stores. Now I don't know where I'm going to go."
Bonham said she frequented the Orem store but recently moved close to the American Fork store and was looking forward to shopping there. Bonham said she will have to find other stores to pick up her craft and scrapbooking supplies.
In the statement announcing the store closures the company pointed to the challenging economy and competition from national big-box retailers as the reasons the company is shifting from being a brick-and-mortar operation to an online-only outlet. In the past year, national chain Hobby Lobby has opened stores in Orem and American Fork. Hobby Lobby has been called the Wal-Mart of the hobby world. National chain Michaels also has a store in Orem.
Steve Densley, president of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, wondered if the move to online is a mistake for the popular store.
"I think a lot of people are attached to seeing what you want, buying it and taking it home," he said.
"It could be a frustration if more companies did this. I think it is a value for every community to have places like Roberts."
Densley acknowledged that online sales are part of the retail business that cannot be ignored but said communities thrive when businesses open stores in their area.
Orem assistant city manager Jamie Davidson called the closures disappointing.
"Roberts has been a long-standing part of the Orem community and the city respects the retailer's decision to change its future corporate focus and direction. Moving forward, the city is committed to ensuring that Orem remains Utah Valley's prime retail destination and will actively work with business leaders and property owners in filling the space vacated by the craft supplier," Davidson said.
Roberts grew from being a one-store operation to having as many as 11 stores at its height in 2006. Inventory liquidation sales will begin Monday at all remaining Roberts stores.