Michaels: Permanently Closed

The Michaels in Aliso Viejo has just closed down after being a staple in the town for many years. The store fulfilled the needs of many artistic students, and its closure marks a sad moment in the history of Aliso Viejo. The question that is asked now is, “What will come next?”

Michaels maintained its presence in Aliso Viejo for many years as the most reliable and plentiful arts and crafts store in the area. The store was much larger than the average Michaels, with over 100 aisles filled with art supplies and home goods for its customers to enjoy. The Michaels had also acquired the local Aaron Brothers five years ago, making the closure come as a surprise to many.

However, to more observant Aliso Viejo citizens, Michaels seemed doomed to fail. The location of the store, farthest from the center of the shopping plaza than any other store, resulted in a lack of customers. The parking lot had very few cars in it, and the only time that the store gained any traction was during the holiday season. Many local shoppers had no idea that the store was still open.

One of the store’s former workers and ANHS student, Ryan Saadai (12), had this to say about the popularity of the store: “Michaels was very empty while I worked there, barely anybody came in. Because of that, I feel like the store was destined to close.”

The frequency of shoplifting posed a similar threat to the store. According to the head custom framer, over $70 in items were stolen every day. The bulk of the arts & crafts supplies in the store were small enough to conceal, and only the most expensive items would raise the store alarm when stolen. This, along with the location issues, prevented the store from gaining enough revenue to afford the hefty real estate prices in Aliso. 

Signs of the store losing profits were evident months before it finally closed. The amount of new hires became less than usual by spring of 2022.  More employees were leaving on average than getting hired. Michaels had 20 to 30 employees during the winter of 2021, but during the month of its closing there were no more than 10 employees working consistently. There were also bigger and bigger sales going on much more frequently, in an attempt to gain profits in any way possible.

ANHS student Joey Zarate (12), a former employee of Michaels, had this to say about his experience during the final days of the store: “The last day of Michaels was slow, sad, and empty. They had taken everything off of the shelves and I had to make the last transaction of the store.”

Without a Michaels nearby anymore, artistic community members will have to find their supplies in similar stores nearby, such as the Hobby Lobby in the Marketplace on Alicia or the TJ Maxx & HomeGoods in the Aliso Town Center. These places sell similar items to Michaels, but they do not fully replicate the store. Many customers complain about the lack of atmosphere within them.

Michaels’ closing poses an important question on the future of the building space that it and other closed stores occupy. The Lowe’s next door to the Michaels is reported by its landlord to be replaced by a 99 Ranch Market–an Asian grocery store founded in California–but there is no official word on the Michaels itself. Aliso Viejo community members hope that whatever it is, it will be a welcome addition to the Town Center shopping plaza.