9 Retailers That Offer Free Classes and Workshops

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woman at sewing class
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It’s true that you never stop learning, but many of us never sit in a classroom again after graduation day. You can change that. Many retailers offer free classes and workshops on a variety of subjects. We’re not talking algebra here — no tests or grades — but useful and entertaining topics that will help you immediately once you walk out the store’s door.

Many stores turned to online classes due to the coronavirus pandemic, but recently, in-store classes have resumed in some locations. We’re highlighting free classes, but stores may also offer more intensive courses that charge a fee or require a payment for supplies. Note that while many businesses offer classes for children too, here we are focusing on classes for adults.

Here’s a look at retailers offering free classes and workshops.

1. Michaels

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Michaels is an artist’s Disneyland. I love the craft kits, baking accessories and markers in every color of the rainbow. The store also offers both free and premium online classes, though premium classes do charge a fee. Some of the recent free offerings include a class in painting, one in glass etching and another where you create a tote bag.

To learn more: Visit the Michaels classes and events webpage

2. Apple

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Let’s face it: Technology is changing just too fast for many people to keep up. Apple is helping out with regularly scheduled, free educational workshops covering everything from how to take a better iPhone photo to personalizing your Apple watch. Some sessions are virtual, others are offered in an Apple store near you.

To learn more: Visit Apple’s webpage.

3. Williams Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma
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Williams Sonoma is a great place for those who want to up their home-cooking game with appliances, gadgets and even gourmet ingredients. Not all of their classes and workshops are free, but check your local store’s schedule. Cookbook authors and chefs often visit for meet-and-greet events and demonstrate a few of their recipes. For instance, my Seattle store will soon host Joy the Baker, who’ll make her signature mocha coffee cake and peach and raspberry crostata.

To learn more: Williams Sonoma offers both virtual and in-store events, both of which are explained on its website.

4. Microsoft

Microsoft Windows 11
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Microsoft used to have retail stores similar to Apple stores. All those physical stores closed for good during 2020, but the software company is still offering virtual classes and workshops. Students can take a class to improve their basic skills in a program such as Microsoft Outlook or learn how to make a simple arcade game in the company’s MakeCode Arcade platform.

To learn more: Visit the Microsoft workshops and training webpage.

5. Home Depot

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Homeownership can be intimidating to those who weren’t born with a hammer in their hand. From the comfort of your own couch, you can brush up on your DIY skills with The Home Depot’s virtual workshops, covering such topics as lawn prep, drywall repair, painting and more.

To learn more: Visit The Home Depot’s workshop webpage.

6. Lowe’s

Lowe's store
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If DIY seems daunting, check out one of Lowe’s virtual or in-store workshops. You can learn tips and tricks for interior painting and staining, how to install a paver patio and even what tools you need to venture into the do-it-yourself world.

To learn more: Visit Lowe’s workshop webpage.

7. Joann

Fabric at a Joann store
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Joann is the place to go for sewing supplies, home decor, storage solutions and craft kits. Many of their classes charge a small fee, but you can also take some video lessons for free. Topics include working with fibers, painting abstract florals and making a tote bag.

To learn more: Visit the Joann classes and events webpage.

8. REI

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Camping can be as simple or as complex as you want. REI charges for some classes, but other virtual classes are free, including basic guides to backpacking, family camping and hammock camping.

To learn more: Visit the REI classes and events webpage.

9. Sephora

Sephora
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Sephora stores are jam-packed with makeup, skin care, hair products and tools, but not everyone is born knowing just how to beautify with them. So Sephora offers free virtual classes. Topics include hair tricks and tips, skin needs, makeup and more, and some classes even give away free products to a few lucky attendees.

To learn more: Visit the Sephora Events webpage.