When I started discussing with Loretta being a contributor to her site, I had to think what I wanted to write about. I have my own blog that I post to on an almost daily basis and I didn’t want to duplicate content that my readers may have already seen. After much thought, I decided featuring various local needlework shops (LNS), that people may not be aware of, would be a great idea. They’re quickly becoming extinct, and as avid stitchers, we need to do all we can to save them. Between STNA and my own sites, there are more than 4,000 stitchers that could be introduced to new shops to buy from.
Unfortunately the idea didn’t go as planned.
I am also a victim of my favorite LNS closing this past Spring, so I figured I would start with the next closest shop. It is one I haven’t been to in more than 20 years (before my son was even born). I quickly jumped on line to see if they have a website to find out the shop hours, etc. I was thrilled to see they had a “contact us” link with an email address. I composed an email to the shop owner explaining who I was, what I wanted to do with the feature, and provided links to all my sites, as well as STNA. My first disappointment came when I immediately received an email back that it was undeliverable. (More on that later.)
Next step, go back to their website and find out what their hours are and see if I can catch the owner/manager on the phone. I wanted to give them a heads-up on my plan, as well as get permission in advance to take some photos while I was in the store. Not much luck there either. The store hours are M-F 11am-5pm and only two Saturdays each month for 4 hours per day. Like the large majority of stitchers, I work during the day so shopping during those hours is out of the question, as well as being able to spend any amount of time on the phone from my job. Lucky for me, the upcoming weekend was one of the two Saturdays they would be open, and I was scheduled off from work, so I took a chance and made the 20 minute drive out there.
I almost drove by the building as they are located in a small “professional” building with some offices, and there was relatively no signage. There were a few cars in the parking lot, so I guessed I was in the right place. When I went to the door of the building I found it locked with a note stating they are open, but you need to knock to be let in. A little odd, but OK. Upon entering the store I introduced myself, with business card at the ready, and asked for the store owner/manager. I was told she’s not in on the weekends. I explained to the lady working about the feature post and asked if I could take some photos to go with it and was instantly told she couldn’t authorize that, but she’d be more than happy to give my card to the owner. Another little hurdle, but I was still on a mission to do this feature.
The shop itself was relatively small. It was three adjoining rooms that were about equal to the size of the downstairs of my entire house, and my entire house is only 1,000 sq ft. I was excited to start the browsing, especially with spending money in my wallet. Needless to say, I was handed another disappointment when it came to the selection of items. If you’re a fan of vintage samplers, this LNS is the place for you. I counted a total of 6 designers they had current charts for (Lizzie Kate, Blue Ribbon Designs and Prairie Schooler were some of them). Most other charts in the store were 10+ years old (confirmed by the inventory cards that are kept behind each chart). The “bargain” bins were full of charts & magazines from the late ’80s and early ’90s, before my son was born. There were none of the bright & cheery charts or kits that are quickly becoming popular. And sadly, the only fabric of any kind available for purchase in the shop were scrap bags that were put together from leftover pieces of various projects. However, when I asked, I was told they’ll special order anything you want. I don’t recall, but I think there may have been a small selection of needles to purchase. My only highlight…the amount of Kreinik metallics and Mill Hill beads! I finally found my tiny, tiny piece of heaven.
After 30 minutes in the store looking at everything possible, in hopes of being able to make a decent size purchase, I walked out of the store with a chart published 13 years ago and 2 spools of metallic fibers for a whopping $12.78. Not the type of purchase I planned on making to help support a LNS.
While I was checking out I kindly reminded the employee to please give my business card to the owner. I stated I had tried emailing in advance of my visit but it wouldn’t go through. The employee told me the store computer crashed, so they just disabled their email. I wondered if they knew local libraries have computers you can use for free to check your email.
Needless to say, as of the time I’m typing this post, I haven’t received any response from the store owner to the business card I left or subsequent follow up messages. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now I haven’t said the name of the LNS or even where they’re located. I’m not doing this post as a way to harm their business. It simply highlights many of the reasons why our much loved LNSs are disappearing. If they’re not open when shoppers can get there and they’re not stocking items stitchers want to buy, no one will frequent their businesses, hence making them a dying breed.
I am NOT giving up on my search to find great local needlework shops I can share with the stitching community. Looks like there will be some road trips in my future that will hopefully yield positive posts and great shopping opportunities for all of us.