Do It Yourself: Retailers that are growing the DIY movement

From knitting accessories to brewing their own beer, Americans from coast to coast are doing it themselves. Restoring antiques, repurposing vintage clothing and supporting small-batch artisanal businesses are trending activities right now, as well as encouraging shopping local as a lifestyle. Several independent stores we work with have embarked on the DIY bandwagon, including Chicago Brew Werks, Suite Pieces in New York, and Knit Purl in Oregon. Each company is capitalizing on the developing taste for authenticity and quality.

Brewing up some (local) magic

In the windy city, a growing niche of beer connoisseurs can now produce the elixir themselves, thanks to stores like Chicago Brew Werks. They sell home brewing supplies and boast one of the largest selections of hops in the US. According to owner and entrepreneur Brandon Wright, who quit his corporate real estate job in order to follow his passion, home brewing has spiked in popularity over the past 5 years.

The realtor-turned-brewer says Americans’ palates are changing, and many are seeking fresher and better-tasting beers, and the trend towards craft brewing has exploded. Brandon and his wife Amanda caught the DIY wave in Chicago at the right time, and opened Brew Werks in January 2012. They have since expanded considerably, and they’re even using LightSpeed Web Store to extend their reach to out-of-state brewers.

Their brick-and-mortar location does more than just serve customers; it helps to grow the movement itself. The store features a tasting bar without the stools or TVs that sometimes prevent consumers at bars from socializing. The set up successfully encourages customers to share their knowledge, experiences, and tips for brewing.

Measure twice, cut once

In Brooklyn, NY, Suite Pieces offers the tools craft-lovers need to indulge their passion for furniture restoration. They also opened in 2012, and sell a variety of paints, finishing products, and other decorative pieces that allow people to bring more creativity into their living space. They sell pieces they have restored themselves, as well as offer workshops and networking events, where local DIYers can get together and learn from each other.

“It’s not just about having a retail store where people can buy some supplies” says owner Amanda Peppard, who left her corporate job in 2011 to follow her dream of working in the design field. “It’s about being a source of inspiration and education, where people can see something they love and then get a hands-on demonstration on how to do it themselves.”

Out with the new, in with the classic

Once considered a pastime exclusively practiced by an older crowd, DIYers of all ages are appropriating knitting as the trendy new hobby. At Knit Purl in Portland, one can find everything they need to knit the project of their dreams, and it doesn’t end there. For those looking to share their passion with others, they offer knitting and crochet classes and provide an environment that encourages people to relax and knit on-site.

In an age where so much is mass-produced, it is almost inevitable that the pendulum has swung towards small, local manufacturing in many communities. For the retail industry, it’s important to note that along with web stores, YouTube channels, blogs, and events, physical stores can be the cornerstones of various DIY activities. They are hubs for practical knowledge and products, as well as a place where consumers can get together and share their passion with others. The trend is a cultural phenomenon, and retail is its pillar of support.

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun is a content writer, fashion enthusiast, and lover of pets. When she's not writing about retail trends, she's travelling the world and learning new languages.