An Interview with Barb Fricano
It’s no secret that art quilters love quilt and fabric shops. Today our Quilt Shop Spotlight continues with a trip to Dearborn, Michigan.
Barb Fricano, owner of The Material Girls quilt shop, was kind enough to share the story of how her quilt shop got started as well as to answer a few questions about what classes, materials, and events she offers. Read on to learn more about The Material Girls quilt shop.
Please share a little about your background and how (and when) you decided to open your shop.
I've been sewing for more than 50 years and have loved fabrics at least that long. I went into home economics education and spent several years teaching in the public schools.
I've always wanted a fabric shop; fabric stores always felt like heaven to me! When my husband and I moved to Dearborn, Michigan in 1995 the first friend I met invited me to her quilting group. I'd never quilted before, but it seemed like a great way to meet people. A few years later another friend and I discussed doing some type of business dealing with fabric, and we thought opening a quilt shop would be great. We made the trek to International Quilt Market in Houston and learned a lot and I decided at that time I really couldn't afford to quit my day job and open a shop, but I thought I'd have the time and money to do an online shop. My friend and I differed on that so I went ahead and did it on my own.
After three years of running an online shop, I lost my day job. My husband encouraged me to open The Material Girls and we spent the next several months working out a location, building stock, and getting ready to open. That was four years ago this June.
What unique items/products do you carry in your store?
My shop is known for its selection of Australian, African, and Asian fabrics as well as a great selection of batiks. We also carry a lot of fabrics that work well with art to wear garments
What sort of classes and events do you have?
We cover basic quilting, lots of bag classes, as well as art jacket classes, and children's sewing classes. We have "Bag Lady" days where customers bring in their Material Girls bag and receive specials when they show their bag. On “Apron Day” people come in wearing an apron, have their picture taken, and have their name entered in a drawing. We participate in two shop hops a year with neighboring shops and also have a “Christmas in July.” Last year we had a demo on various techniques, gift ideas, and hot cocoa and Christmas cookies—it was 90 degrees that day!
Can you please share a short story or anecdote about your store?
Well, I did get a strange call once, from a man, asking how long it would take to send a girl over. I thought it was a joke and hung up. He called back and asked, "Aren't you a call service?" (He had mistaken our name “The Material Girls.”) I told him, “No, The Material Girls is a fabric shop!”
The best thing is when people walk in the door stressed, stop, take a deep breath, and relax. We call it “fabric therapy at The Material Girls, LLC.”
What plans do you have for the future?
I'd like to expand my space so I'm able to have a larger class area and have more room for fabric embellishment items, like specialty threads, dyes, and more buttons. But at this time I'm waiting for the economy to improve a bit before I make that jump.
You can visit The Material Girls online at: materialgirlquilt.com
Photos by The Material Girls.
Click here to check out previous Quilting Arts Quilt Shop Spotlights.