One of the best parts about traveling is the opportunity to sample the local culture and experience all the things that make a place unique. After I’ve booked a trip, I immediately start researching local quilt, fabric, and yarn shops in the area. I get excited by the prospect of visiting a new shop and seeing the different fabrics, embellishments, and classes they offer, imagining how I might incorporate these new materials and ideas into my work.
Most of all, though, there’s something intriguing about the novelty and thrill of exploring a new shop juxtaposed against the familiar–the smell of crisp, new bolts of fabric, the sight of supplies neatly organized on their shelves, and the cheerful conversations with local fiber enthusiastic that inevitably pop up. I find that no matter where I go, quilt and fabric shops always feel just a little like home.
So it is with great enthusiasm that I announce the continuation of our Quilt Shop Spotlight. I can’t think of a better way to do a little behind-the-scenes quilt-themed traveling while also celebrating the spirit and individuality of independent quilt shops. And to kick off our travels, we’re going to visit Whimsy Cottage in Salt Lake City for a chat with owner Nancy Raymond.
Nancy: My history includes sewing since I was twelve and being a retail junkie. I had an antique store in the ’80s, a stationery/gift store in the ’90s (both in New Mexico) and now I own Whimsy Cottage. This, by far, is my most creative, energizing, and long-lasting endeavor. Whimsy opened in 1999 in a little bungalow in a town southeast of Salt Lake City. It did well—people loved the color and ambiance and were happy to drive the distance. But personal issues turned my attention elsewhere and I closed the store for a of couple years, reopening in Salt Lake City in 2005.
What unique items/products do you carry in your store?
Our fabric makes us unique. We carry batiks, fabrics by Kaffe Fassett, and a selection of black and whites. We also carry patterns from local designers, my favorite being those by Dana Baker who manages the store. She’s amazing and so are her patterns. Also the atmosphere—people comment that it’s a happy store.
What sort of classes and events do you have?
Because our space is so small, events are next to impossible. We have had a Sunday Mystery Quilt day. I cooked for a few days beforehand and we sewed and ate from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. We participate in the Wasatch Front Shop Hop and we also have block-of-the-month programs which usually involve about twenty-five participants.
Is there a short story or anecdote you’d like to share about your store?
As for stories about the store, I guess having loyal customers from around the country are the best ones. They bring an empty suitcase when they visit, call from home having seen something on our website they need, or ask me to design a quilt and send them fabric for it, sight unseen.
What plans do you have for the future?
Our future is bright. We’re moving next month to new digs. The new space is about 30% bigger which will allow us to have a classroom and I’ll have an office. We already have lists of classes and events. Several ladies use our fabric to make stuff to sell and I’ve invited them to share their wares. We’re planning an ugly quilt contest and I’d also love to have month-long themed quilt displays. I’m so excited to finally have the space to be a “real” quilt shop. I feel like I’m graduating from college and moving on to the real world–I have pages of ideas!
To learn more about Whimsy Cottage, please visit whimsycottage.net.
Check back soon for more Quilt Shop Spotlights. If you are an independent quilt shop owner and you’d like to have your shop featured in our Quilt Shop Spotlight, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Nancy Raymond.