Craft supplier Zim's Inc. is closing its doors after 62 years in business because, the owner says, people no longer have time and interest for crafts, and the big-box retailers have squeezed the smaller stores that Zim's supplied.
"The future doesn't look as bright as the past has been," owner Craig Zimmerman said. "We just made the decision where we'd simply close."
The 45,000-square-foot Zim's store at 4370 S. Commerce Drive has been sold to another local company, the Flower Patch. Zim's will lease 10,000 square feet to liquidate its supplies. The building at its downtown store, 150 S. State, is up for sale, and the store will close after the holidays, Zimmerman said.
Zim's sells craft supplies to the general public at its stores. It also sells doll parts, birdhouses, wood painting surfaces, brushes, baskets, nutcrackers and The Elves Themselves figurines to small and independent stores.
"Fifteen years ago, there were almost 14,000 small mom and pop and medium-sized businesses," Zimmerman. "Most of them are now gone."
Zim's made its doll parts, nutcrackers and elves in factories in China, and the company even partially owns two factories there. But one factory closed in 2007 when the Chinese government decided to condemn it to build a thoroughfare. The company left another factory after it got so busy with European orders that it could not keep up with Zim's orders, which were generally smaller and less frequent than ones from European companies.
Zim's contracted with other factories in China, too. "We would do designs and we would take them to a factory," Zimmerman said. "They would do our designs."
Zim's always saw itself as a manufacturer and distributor of crafts. "We've never been structured as a retail business," Zimmerman said, nor did Zim's want to become a retailer because it would be impossible to compete "against numerous multinational giants that are $2 (billion) and $3 billion-a-year companies."
Although the overall interest in crafts is decreasing, sales in scrapbook materials are increasing. Zim's began to sell scrapbook supplies but didn't want to change the business into a scrapbook business. "When you switch products and try to make a go of something you really don't know much about, that's a recipe for disaster, and we have a lot at stake if we make a mistake," Zimmerman said.Zim's was started by Zimmerman's mother and father, Eleanor and Cliff Zimmerman. "Zim's hasn't been using bank money for over 35 years," Zimmerman said. "We self-funded everything. We own all of our real estate. We own our inventory."