The fabric of tradition
August 26, 2016
We live in a time of changing tastes. For many decades following World War II mass American culture tended to prize ease and convenience over quality. Generations of Americans emerged into the post-war era seeking to escape the "drudgery" of domestic life by favoring "time-saving" products like frozen dinners.
Along the way a lifestyle long exalted in the western US fell out of favor. Where homemade products were once a staple, mass production came into vogue.
Generations of children have now been raised with little connection to the means of production of the products they consume.
That dynamic is starting to change though as a movement begins to take hold with consumers showing favor for unique, handcrafted and artisanal products over those which are mass produced. This movement has taken many forms: shop locally, farm-to-table, Etsy. But at its core the subtle slow shift in consumer preferences is about elevating quality over convenience or price.
This movement has been a boon for some local business owners who fill unique niches. Tina Holley, owner and operator of the Fabric Nook in Granby, is well poised to take advantage of this shift in consumer preferences.
Holley purchased the Fabric Nook from longtime storeowner Lorene Linke in October last year. Holley spent 20-years working for Linke at the Fabric Nook on a part-time basis. "Lorene asked me if I would like to work a few hours a day, she knew I had the skills for it," Holley said. "I started as a garment sewist. It helped me to buy fabric. I basically worked for fabric at the time." Holley joked.
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When Linke began seriously considering retirement she approached Holley to see if the younger woman was interested in purchasing the business. "I looked at it and decided, if I could I would," Holley said. "It has been exciting."
Holley's extensive experience working with fabrics, clothing design, sewing and other similar activities goes back to her childhood. "I started sewing when I was about 11," Holley said. "I was making my own clothes through high school and middle school. I was also adjusting my friends clothes, whether their parents liked it or not."
Holley's love of sewing and clothing design would eventually become a secondary source of income after she was married and had children. "It was a good way for me to make a little extra," Holley said. "I would repair and adjust clothing and did some design consultation. I used to work on bridal and bridal party dresses but my hands don't allow it. Now that I have the shop I don't have time for anymore anyways."
Holley is a self-taught seamstress whose natural talent for reading patterns allowed her to take on difficult projects even at a young age. To learn tailoring and how to alter clothes she wouldn't normally wear she would purchase suits and gowns at thrift stores, take them apart and put them back together.
One of Holley's greatest loves is quilting. She began quilting about 15-years ago for fun. As part of their expansive quilting products the Fabric Nook participates in the Row-by-Row Experience, a international quilting program wherein independent fabric stores throughout the nation develop their own unique quilt row designs that can be purchased exclusively from the individual store they are designed at.
Quilters who participate in the Row-by-Row Experience try to purchase multiple unique rows developed at different fabric stores and then quilt the various rows together into a single quilt. The rows can be purchased from June 21 to Sept. 6 and must be purchased in person in a brick-and-mortar store. So far this year Holley has sold 360 row kits for the Row-by-Row Experience.
Along with an expansive selection of fabrics and quilting products the Fabric Nook also sells what people in the sewing world call, "notions", or the ancillary products, such as zippers, seam rippers and tape measures, required to complete a project; the Fabric Nook also offers sewing and quilting classes on Wednesdays on a nearly weekly basis.
Business has been good for the Fabric Nook this summer and Holley sees the shift in consumer tastes as a positive but is concerned about the future for independent stores like hers. "There is a bit of an upswing (in interest), although independent fabric stores are disappearing all over. Quilters know the difference between Wal-Mart fabric and independent store fabric. A lot of fabrics that are available for me to buy are not available to other stores that are not independent."
Holley explained her business philosophy as such, "When you walk into my store you are the most important person in the room and hopefully you will leave with a smile as big as mine."
The Fabric Nook is located at 387 East Agate Avenue in Granby, right next door to Azteca restaurant. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. A store website, tinasfabricnook.com, is expected to go live in the coming weeks.
If you're looking for sewing or quilting equipment, a bit of advice on how to tackle a project, or just want to peruse Holley's lovely inviting store stop on by, the atmosphere is as warm and inviting as the owner herself.
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