In the quilting world there are many ways for a quilter to get the materials he or she needs to practice the art of quilting.... JoAnn's, WalMart, even the internet. But to a true quilter, there is only one place to truly get everything they really need... a Local Quilt Shop. The LQS as it is known in the quilting cirlce, is so much more than a fabric store. The LQS is what inspires us, encourages us, transforms us from a sewer to a quilter. A good LQS manages to make even the beginninng quilter or fiber artist believe they can transform bits of fabric and thread into works of art. They are there to quide us, to teach us, to share a wealth of knowledge, to bestow all the tips and techniques the art form has to make quilting easier, to make it fun.... in many cases they are our muse.
So it is with much dismay that I learned this week that my LQS (well, if local means a 45 minute drive) will be closing their doors. The owner Claire Oehler, will be retiring. Yes, Claire's daughter Jane Davila, will be carrying on the Country Quilter tradition with an online store, but with all the cyber world has to offer, it can not replace the feeling that walking into that store created for so many. We will miss the staff that greeted you with a smile and by name as you walked into the store... the staff that somehow managed to learn not only your quilting personality to serve you better, but became an extension of your quilting family and even felt like or in some cases became a close friend. In short we will miss them for what they are to the quilting world, as their philosophy on the web site so simply states: "Our Philosophy: To provide quality products at a fair price in an inspirational and creative atmosphere. To offer a supportive environment for quilters to learn and grow."
I know retirement is something that Claire will look forward to, after 18 1/2 years.... what stamina it takes to run a business like this. The brick and mortar store, the classes, the pattern business, the online store and even their fabulous retreats (thank goodness they are continuing the retreats twice a year!)... I am exhausted just thinking about it. So I do wish her good health and happiness in this next stage of her life, enjoying their country home, travel and grandchildren.... but I will miss her smile, her laugh and they way she says 'well... I don't know Renee'. Thanks Claire for all your positive responses to my pushing, prodding and even pleading over the last 10 years for just the right class or gadget I needed to improve my quilting skills. Oh yes, thanks for being my dinner partner before evening classes. I will miss this time as well!
Yes, Jane and I became 'friends' on Facebook last night and I will continue to stay in touch with the retreats, our blogs, the Country Quilter newsletter, and her workshops. But to me, loosing the Country Quilter is more than loosing a local supplier, it is like loosing a member of my family.
So for the next two months, until the sign comes off the door, I will have to make sure I get my fix of all things 'Country Quilter'. Just like I did with 4 other quilting friends yesterday, who got in our car and had a 'road trip' and made a day out of our visit to our favorite LQS!