Even if you don't know the difference between paper mache and potpourri, it's easy to see why Michaels Stores (NYSE:MIK) has been coasting through the economic lull. As the country's largest arts and crafts retailer, the company has been keeping idle hands busy, empowered by the notion of artful creation.

Like red lipstick sales during times of war or Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) during flu season, Michaels is providing welcome comfort food for the spirit by giving shoppers affordable means to create gifts or beautify their homes.

Last night, the company posted second-quarter earnings of $0.35 a share on $616.5 million in sales. Penny-pinching consumers were no match for the lure of crafty creations as same-store sales inched higher during the period.

It's no secret. Thrift is still in fashion. Last week, closeout specialist Big Lots (NYSE:BLI) may have posted a loss, but it did so on a healthy 3.4% surge in store-level comps. Shares of the more upscale closeout retailer Tuesday Morning (NASDAQ:TUES) have more than tripled off last year's lows. That may not come as much of a surprise to folks who were introduced to the company's potential back in May's edition of Hidden Gems.

So, is the message here that as an investor one can make money by following the patterns of folks looking to save money? Exactly. At least that's our two cents.

Ever wanted to make a quilt? Does a right to bear arms mean that you are handy with a glue gun? Beyond Michaels Stores, what's your favorite arts and crafts store? All this and more -- in the Crafty Fools discussion board . Only on Fool.com.