Happy Anniversary to Us!!!
March 2004 marks The Silver Needle's 20th Anniversary! I opened my shop doors for business Thursday, March 1st, 1984. So many, many years and friends later... I treasure my memories of the past 20 years! During our Anniversary month... I'd like to share some of those special memories with you.
Each day, during this month of March, we'll add a tiny story and maybe an old photo -- if I have one that pertains to the note -- to our Birthday Page. I won't go in 'time-order', because my memories just come whenever something special triggers them! Hopefully you'll love reading all my thoughts... I have a quite a list so far... so I'd better get writing!!! I guess this is sort of my 'On-Line Scrapbook!!!'
February 29, 2004
Here I am... 20 years later... on the 'Eve' of the Silver Needle's 20th anniversary.... Remembering...
(Webmaster's note: start from the bottom and work your way up. Then click the arrow and go to page 2.)
Happy St Pat's Day!!!
I'd been in business 2 weeks by now... all alone, no employees... just a warm Coke for lunch and a thermos of soup!!! (I had no frig!) You were coming in every day! You were bringing friends... I think by then, I was starting to re-order my beginning inventory. Mom and Dad had gone home... everything was settling into 'normal!' It took me three months of working alone to finally realize that I needed help. Linda F -- a local gal -- was my first employee. I think she worked one or two days a week... but I don't remember. So many customers are telling me of their first visits into the shop... A LOT of you found me that first year! LOTS of my locals have come since those first few months... event Pat C -- the gal who came at 9 my first day -- was in last week!!!
I'm really enjoying your e-mails about all this, too! Hello, Nita Kay! (She was on my 'case' for YEARS about a website... but I didn't even know how to turn on a computer!!!) Thank Goodness you had patience, and waited for me to be 'ready' for all of this!!!
Secret Needle Night... it's always on our minds around here. We're always working on the next one or two!!! Mona and I were at Camp this past weekend talking about it... and I thought it'd be fun to tell you how it came to be!
In the mid 90's, classes at The Silver Needle were 'broken.' We weren't filling them anymore, we were canceling what few had signed up... working our fingers to the bone making models... only to have nobody register for the class. I even took a class at market on how to teach better classes... and FELL ASLEEP!!! I wracked my brain trying to figure out the problem... too many gals working, not enough evening time, prices, projects, what??? Ironically, that year, I was still on the INRG board, and got 'assigned' to a luncheon table-top discussion at Market of successful class ideas -- and I WAS THE MODERATOR! Holy COW!!! (Talk about the blind leading the blind!!!) I learned SO MUCH!!! Out of it came the idea for a monthly 'thing'! Out of necessity to make the desired amount of kits, we dreamed up the idea of a secret project that you came and stitched that night in the shop. We'd serve a desert...and share the recipe, too! *Great!* We announce the first Secret Needle Night in June of 1995, or 96, I think. Along comes really-good-customer Danya D from CO... and she wants the darn thing MAILED!!! (Well, I suppose we can do that...JUST for her... I'd never even thought of that!) So... we mailed Danya's! The rest is history!!! (I know we did a Secret Needle Night Story about a year ago that describes the designing to kit process every month -- I hope Mary can dig up the PDF of that... and you can read the whole thing... it's pretty cool!)
Anyway, Mona remembers moving to Tulsa just days after the OKC bombing... the security system company called her about her house windows (in OKC) being blown out... only she had to explain that it wasn't her house anymore!!! She brought the featured recipe -- a cake -- for the second month of SNN -- July -- which was her birthday! She was a favorite customer back then... not Magic by Mona yet!!! (However this implies that she is no longer a favorite...which is totally false!!!)
A couple of years went by for Secret Needle Night... we'd adapt free charts, but mostly I designed the projects. Linda Stolz (Erica Michaels Designs -- she has since relocated to Clarksville, TN and is happily employed by Homespun Corner -- a wonderful, packed-full-of-cool-cross-stitch, primative-flavored shop) had come to work for us by then... and it was JUST LIKE the Nan thing from Camp... Linda was tired of watching me agonize over these things... asked if she could try this a little... and came back after a weekend with a darling bundle of Indian Corn! It is incredible for me to remember that this is just BEFORE I met Mary and the website was born! Linda designed Secret Needle Night from that September on... and Mary and I found each other the following January! Over the years, we've had 'guest designers'... but after you read that SNN story, you'll understand what we put Linda through every month!!!
Soooo, that's how SNN began. We're still majorly involved with it... it gets sent all over the world each month... it's been delivered to The Tower of London, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Bermuda, England and France... and even good old Alaska!!!
Just fun remembering...
I talked to Nan today, (Yes...about our little anniversary exclusive thingie that she's doing for us... details will follow next week!!!) and we were laughing about all the stuff I've been talking about that she remembers, too! I had forgotten to tell you about the delivery man at Ethan Allen Furniture -- they were our neighbor behind our old space in the shopping center! Juan. Juan used to walk past the front of the shop... 'obviously on the way to the drug store' in our same center. Never mind that the drug store was much closer of a walk if he just went around the front of the center -- instead of past our shop! Juan liked Nan! (who insists it was Deanna he liked!) Well, my 'Three Stooges' Nan, Peggy and Deanna would all stand outside the shop and take smoking breaks. Juan presented us one day, with a carefully constructed 'smoking bench' made lovingly of 2 x 4's and cardboard -- the packing stuff from the furniture arrivals!!! He plopped this awful, but sincere offering right, smack in front of my front door... "A Shining Shrine to the Smoking Stitchers!!!" It was the most gosh-awful thing you ever saw... your stockings snagged just looking at it! It was MY duty, as matriarch of the Silver Needle to haul it over to the dumpster... and so I rose to the task! Poor Juan... you could just see his pain as he walked by soon after to see his favorite stitchers ... and no bench in sight! I still feel *just terrible* about it!!!
Remember Nan's run-over trunk show??? I'd forgotten that when the UPS guy brought it to the shop... and told me about it... she'd gone out there and CLIMBED INTO THE TRUCK to see it!!! He was freaking out because customers weren't allowed in the truck! That was when she made him haul it in... and we saw all the tire marks!
Anyway, I had been telling you about Sandy, Norma, Pat and Sherry yesterday... we all were officers of my trade organization The International Needleart Retailer's Guild together. I got railroaded into it because Gail Savage needed a sweater model for the annual fashion show during the Atlanta Market. She called -- I was a new member (two or three years ago I'd opened the shop) , and said YES! I chickened out once I got to the show, and totally stood her up! So... she calls after the show, and I apologize and promise that I'll do anything else sometime -- 'just call!' Two months later, the INRG president had closed her shop, and just like Miss America, the first runner-up takes over! Gail had been VP and was now P... and needed a VP! (Little or no work involved, you understand!) So, I said YES!!!
Wow! 10 Years of fun started!!! I was Vice -President, in charge of the entertainment programs at Market that first two years. Yes, I had to run that darn fashion show... and I would have KILLED me for standing me up!!! I must mention that when I showed up for my first board meeting, I was pregnant with Natalie! I was so afraid they'd kick me out... but it turned out that they were even more afraid I'd back out on the office! I had to room with Billie Click who owned a shop in Nashville -- I think -- at the time. I knew NOBODY, and showed up at this hotel room to share with this Billie person. I'm sure she planned it... but I walked into that room only to find underwear and disgusting things hanging from every doorknob, and laying on half the floor! I started crying and called Gail -- 'cause she was the only person I knew that was involved with all of this -- and ended up rooming with her instead. I'm sure Billie had been mad that they'd shoved a total stranger in her room with her... and that was her way of getting me out!!! It worked!
After VP, I think I was Treasurer... and got the Guild it's tax-exempt status as a Non-for Profit organization. They'd been paying income taxes on our dues! So after 4 years on the board, I moved to Membership Chair... and took care of the member booth at the shows, and monitoring all the new member interview and applications. After that... I guess I was President... that was the year we changed the organization name from The Southeastern Yarncrafter's Guild to INRG. (It had started out in the southeast... and consisted mainly of yarn shops! Hence the name.) After all that... I got to be Past President... and do nothing!!! So after 10 years on that board... some days I miss it! I'm on the nominating committee right now, for next year's officers... and I can safely say that after being a member for almost 19 years, now... I CAN say NO!!! Sandy, Norma, Pat, Sherry, Gail and I went through lots and lots together... and I wouldn't trade any of it away!!!
One of my old Saturday employees -- Carol Marquiss -- had moved away in the early 90's and opened her own shop in Fishers IN. What a Stitch! was open for a few years... and I even got Carol roped into the INRG stuff! She was VP for a time... we all roomed together... chaos and total fun! I remember one year, Pat Embree -- Stitchin Post in Nashville, Carol, Sherry, Janice Kloppenberg -- Heart's Desire in Wichita, and Nancy Buhl -- The Needle & I and From Nancy's Needle in Rockford IL all roomed together in a mega-room in Nashville. Since it's a cash-and-carry show... we're all over the floors buying stuff and coming back to the room to drop it all off. There were 6 shops staying in that room and by the end of the first day... we had only little paths to walk through to get to the bathroom! Sherry -- (who received calls today!!!) had the side of the bed right up against the window. The second morning, it was so cold that her blanket had frozen to the window! Sherry never complains about anything... ! I also remember somebody 'little' trying to get dressed early in the morning... and she accidentally put on somebody else's bra that was 5 sizes too big... thinking in the dark that it was HERS!!! Talk about a laughing attack!!!
I guess, at this point, I need to remind my supplier and vendor friends that read my notes every day... that some of us retailers really ARE professional people!!! (Even though we were out there buying lacy jar lids and California Raisin charts!!!) till tomorrow...!
Happy Monday Morning!!!
I'm writing this Sunday Night... so I can sleep in a little this morning! We just got home from our Camp Wannasew Weekend... which was packed full of stitching, noise, food, friends, and very minimal sleep! I was, once again, struck by the amount of long-lasting friendships that stitching brings to gals! We had SOOOO MANY ladies that met each other at our Camp weekends... and now are friends across the miles... all year long! It truly flatters my little shop!
We had wonderful food this weekend, medium weather, and one icky little mouse!!! One of our 'veteran campers' Penny, from TX made a quilt that she brings to Camp every year... Mary was there to take a pic. What makes it special is the fact that Penny cut up all her old Camp Wannasew T-Shirts and Sweats that she didn't wear anymore... and made a Camp Memory Quilt out of them!!!
All these past 20 years... I've not only had a relationship with so many of you... I've made some long-lasting shop-owner friends as well! You know, we go to market several times each year... see the same gals... take classes together... and strike up friendships. It's really pretty easy -- and fun -- to talk to someone else who absolutely understands what you do everyday! I was on the Board of Directors for my Trade Organization -- International Needleart Retailers Guild for 10 years!!! I have a couple of stories for tomorrow about all that... but I dug out pictures of my "Guild Officer Days!"
We used to have INRG Board Meetings at Market...(they still do)... and then a bunch of us would go 'play' together for a day or two after the markets. We met all over the country for a period of about 6 years or so... we visited each other's shops... and really became quite a fun group of gals! I mention all of this... because even though it might not matter to any of you, and you didn't even know about any of it at the time... it really IS a special part of my past 20 years!!! These women have been my friends, and such strong support over the years! I have pics of the 'Play Days!!!'
To start... Here we are at Disneyland!!! There used to be a winter market in Anaheim, CA ... and Disney is RIGHT THERE... so what were we to do??? My Friends are going to KILL ME FOR THIS!!! We're on Splash Mountain...I've dated the back of the photo... January 11th, 1994!!! In the back, is Sherry Baker who owns Country Crafts in the City in Greeley, CO. (Just roomed with her in Nashville a few weeks ago... and didn't tell her I was going to do this!) Next, comes Pat Embree from Stitchin Post in Nashville, TN. Pat is being a chicken here... and totally bending down... so you almost miss her! Third, is the surprise-purchaser of the pics... Gail Savage... who owned Olde Towne Needlework and Framing in Scottsdale, AZ. Gail sold her shop... and is now living on a golf course... and ordering cross stitch stuff (from her favorite shop -- The Silver Needle!!!) to make grandkid's Christmas Stockings!!! The silver-haired lady is Pat Ellestad, who owned Witchery Stitchery, in Mt Horeb WI -- just outside of Madison. She sold her shop a few years ago -- it's still there -- like Gail's -- Happy and Healthy with the new owners! -- and she's living on another golf course somewhere in AZ, just like Gail! Then, here comes Norma Wendt of Aux-Arcs ( the old spelling of, and pronounced *Ozarks*) in Branson, MO. Norma always had two shops... she owned the Ye Old Stitchin Post in Silver Dollar City, too! So this brings us to the poor 'shlep' in the front... ME! THEY MADE ME DO THAT! So... this is payback time!!!
Here's Pat and me at, I think MGM studios... you know, where they take your pic and add all the stuff around it! Just dumb...!
(I remember that year, that it rained... which it never does. There were strawberry vendors all along the street,right outside the convention center and Disney, and their berries were washing down the curbs into the sewers, because they weren't used to rain!!)! Those gorgeous, huge berries... down the drain!!!
We used to have our Winter Board meetings at one of our houses each year... I have no other pics... but this is Gail's desk... at Yarn and Ritzy Needlework in Phoenix, I think... before she moved to Scottsdale! Although this is NOT the typical shop-owner's desk... I had to show it... because it just feels so good to know that somebody else is overwhelmed at times, too!!!
Another year, we had our meeting at Sandy Richard's house -- Sandy owned a shop in Quincy, IL at the time... we were here... in her kitchen... posing for her husband, Nick to take the pic... and obviously solving all of the industry problems that night!!! From the left, is Jo Vincent Weiss -- the gal who ran our markets, then me, then Norma, next is Melinda Bacurin, who owned a darling shop in Murpheesboro, TN... I can't think of the name right now... Sandy is there in the background... and finally Pat -- from WI. We even had a tour of Sandy's husband's train room... I think Gail must have been taking these pics.
My last pic -- I have TONS more -- but nobody likes to watch someone else's vacation slides!!! So... I'll just share this one. I suppose this is about 10 years ago... I'm on the left, then Pat -- holding her white mink coat, Sandy, and my Mom! We are in New York City in the Christmas Department of Macy's!!! We took a five-day trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas... and shopped, ate, and LOVED every minute of New York City!!! (We probably weren't allowed to take a pic here... but we did anyway!)
Well, those are the tales of the Many-Musketeers! I'm looking at these shots and thinking... I gotta call my buddies!!! I haven't talked to some of them for a while... this is so much fun to remember... *everybody call Sherry at Country Crafts in Greeley, CO on Monday... (970-353-1774)!!!* She has no idea I told you to... she doesn't have a website or a fax... but she has a really pretty shop -- with a garden and florist next door!!! (She buys great stuff at the shows... we always dig through each others stuff and trade!!!) She'll just wonder WHAT IN THE WORLD is going on if some of you just call and say hi!!! Ask her what's new... I'll talk to her tomorrow night and see what she says about all of you!!! (So... just drop everything... and say Hi to one of my favorite people!!!)
We'll be at Camp all weekend... so I knew I had to leave you with some WOW shots -- something to tide me over till Monday morning's notes!!!
We have several pics here... One is our old Vera Bradley area. This is probably only 6 or 8 or so years old... we didn't carry much at all!!! I don't know what happened... we just exploded with it all... check out what we have now!!! (The new Summer Silks came in yesterday, so they went up... SOOO pretty!) Anyway, I LOVE looking at these kind of pics -- way, way 'before and after!!!'
Then... remember when I mentioned that the walls and floor kept filling and filling??? Here are some pics of the old shop that were fairly recent. Probably 5 years old... I'm thinking based on the models I see in the pics. MAN, we were getting STUFFED! After we moved... we realized how squished we really had been... and how little 'bend-over' room the shoppers had!
Now... here are good shots! We'd had the same carpet for 12 or 13 years... definitely time for a change! We start out with a shot down to the fabric. Place looks huge... but that was only 13 ft wide!
There's Karen -- the cute Red-Head that always came to our Hershey and Des Moines shows with us. (She's taking time off right now having babies!!!) She's moving stuff out of the area. Already empty fabric shelves!
Next one is lots cleaner... use the afghans on the wall as your point of reference.
OH, I LOVE THIS ONE!!! No carpet! Yuck, Yuck, Yuck!!! We covered the beads on the wall with plastic... thought that was a good no-brainer way to handle that!!! Check out the SILT on the floor in the foreground... I'm not sure if you can see it or not... but that was where everyone walked through the front door for the past 12 or 13 years... and that was all the junk that filtered through the carpet and pad! I think I swept up something like 4 cups of silt from that tiny little area!! (The carpet layers are never into cleaning up anything before they lay the new stuff!!!)
Here, un-ceremonisly, is the beloved old carpet... but you know... I never took a pic of the empty space with the NEW carpet, before we re-filled it!!! I guess those Panoramic shots a few years ago will have to do! (Even though you can barely SEE the floor!)
What an ordeal the carpet was! We rented a big U-Haul, and loaded *all* the inventory into it outside in the parking lot! I remember stressing about someone driving away with my entire shop contents... so Craig must have done something about parking the truck funny, or putting something in front of it, so nobody could take it away! And... I've totally blocked out all memory of moving back into this space... but obviously, we did it!!!
That's it for now... Camp Wannasew is calling...!
Here we are... STILL knee-deep in Camp Wannasew preparations for this weekend! Kits are done... door prizes are wrapped, bedrooms allocated, goody-bags ready... now all we have to do tomorrow, is pack up 25 bins of cool stuff for an extraordinary weekend of private, 24/hr/day shopping... !!! Ms Alaska, Ms Georgia, and Ms Texas all came yesterday... early, for that early-extra night!!! So... for me, it feels like Camp Wannasew started today!!! They're so much fun to have in the shop!!!
I remembered a few things after I finished writing to you yesterday... just fun stuff... nothing to do with Camp... but I associate them anyway!
Two years ago, I came home from April's Weekend... and my husband, Craig, announced that Twinkles, our Westie, might be lonely... and it was probably time for a second dog! (I looked all around to see where that came from... and just thanked the air and God!!!) I made a few calls... and by the next weekend... we had little Busy Lizzie!!! They are both posing for you in this past year's Christmas Party shot on our Home Page!!! Another year -- actually 9 years ago -- Craig and Natalie, then in third grade, spent Camp Saturday at school participating in an annual fundraiser. When I got home... I found a 5-POUND HERSHEY BAR on the kitchen counter that Nat had won!!! This thing HAD to weigh 15 pounds (even though the box insisted it was only 5 pounds -- I knew better!!!) , it was so big!!! I made her take part of it back to school for a snack ... but she and Craig polished that thing off in less than a month!!!
I think Mary is coming out to Camp on Saturday to take a few pics. I hope it's not raining... and you can see us below our cool Camp Banners that "The Cake Sisters" have made for us! The Flag banner is patterned after one of our annual shirts... the other, the log cabin one, they made up all by themselves! We'd never had any Camp signs... so these were a wonderful surprise for us, especially with moving into the new building a few years ago! Suzie and Diane are referred to as "The Cake Sisters" because (they're sisters, and ...) Diane is a gourmet cook... and always supplies us with 3 fantastic works of love/art at each of the Camps she and Suzie attend -- which is every Spring and Fall!!! They're scheduled for April this year!
We have almost 20 years of Camp Wannasew memories ... and so many of them run together for me... but I do remember one that still makes me laugh. This had to be at least 10 years ago... maybe 12, or 14!!! We were in the old Building. (This means 2 bedrooms that sleep 16 ladies each -- 8 sets of bunk beds.) My Mom & Dad would have come for a week trip from WI to OK, and Mom had joined us at Camp for the weekend. Craig, Dad and Natalie were left to their own resources for the time we were gone. .. which meant that they ate out every meal... and took several naps!
Some gal named Ann had come with her mom... nobody knew their names yet. Ann's Mom couldn't sleep, so had left the bedrooms to go out into the gathering room to sleep. Esther -- one of our shop gals had gotten up to go to the bathroom at something like 2:30 am -- (also strange, since most nights somebody stays up all night stitching. This time we had 'wasted Camp Time' and all gone to bed!) and heard Ann's Mom moaning -- motionless... really moaning! -- on the couch. Scared her TO DEATH! Esther took her flashlight and went through the bedrooms shining that thing on everybody, (like --- not wanting to *wake anybody up*!!!) asking if they were "Ann", because your Mom needs you!!! HOLY COW...it took all of 5 minutes to wake up 32 women... who converged on the living room, concerned for Ann and her Mom. Everything was fine... just a nightmare. Now, 32 women can't just get up and go back to bed... they all have to go to the bathroom, and have a drink of water while they're up! Thirty minutes later... my mom is the last one up... just being the "Mom in Charge" and getting everyone back in bed and settled. A good Girl Scout Leader... she has her flashlight leading the stragglers to bed... turning out the lights... the whole nine yards.
Mom turns out the hall light... turns off her flashlight... so she doesn't disturb anyone... and next thing, we heard this AWFUL CRUNCHING THUD!!! I'm thinking an entire bunk bed has collapsed... or someone has fallen out of a top bunk... but then we hear a muffled.... "MUUUY OOOZZ" My poor mother ran into a bunk bed with not the customary TOE... but her lovely, already broken-a-few-times NOSE!!! OK!... 16 AWAKE WOMEN... concerned... but starting to laugh... because HOW can such a thing like a little NOSE catch the darn bed!!!??? Oh man... we were awake for another hour laughing!!!
Mom and Dad were leaving from Tulsa to go to Las Vegas the next week... and luckily... Mom didn't look any different the next day! What a nose!!! What a Woman -- My Mom!!! Not another like her -- I love her to pieces!!!
We're still knee-deep in Camp Wannasew preparations around here this week... it started out as a Friday, Saturday, Sunday thing... but now people are getting here on Wednesday... to be early for the Early-Thursday-Night addition!!! So starting tomorrow -- Wednesday -- we'll be officially into Camp Mode! We have ladies coming from CA, AK, GA, and NY... not to mention all the closer neighboring states. (You'd think those people at the airport would know who we are -- based on all the important people who fly here each year, just because of stitching!!!)
I remember weekends past, when gals have brought stitching tote bags the size of TN... and weighing so much that two had to carry them! I remember Carol -- from TX -- who is coming this spring... and her 'graveyard' of Q-Snap parts! When she needs a new Q-Snap size... she just dumps her bag onto the floor... and 20 or 30 white pipes and clamps spill out... just like bones! I remember Amy, from KS who actually got down on the floor and picked up dropped beads -- to save!!! That was one of the first years we used seed beads... so they were still worth combing the carpet for! Back then, there are NO magnifying lamps!!! Now... nobody comes without one!!!
Here's a famous pic of some of the Spooly Sheep I talked about yesterday...! I am sorry to say, that none of these won the State Fair Blue Ribbon!!! Notice, however, probably the next year's project -- Spooly DOLLS! Heart design on her linen dress is a JUST NAN original!!! (We had a beauty pagent that year with our dolls!!!)
Here's an old group shot... not really too old, because it was the first time we stayed in the new Log Cabin they built! I think this is November of 2001 or 2002! I look at this group... half of which are coming this weekend... and know all but three of them!!! (The one fifth from the left in the front row, Vicky, is due to have a baby ANY DAY... Janice -- second row from the front, third from the left, is your Thursday evening hostess... and those are our bedroom doors propped up behind us!!! They scrambled big-time to get us in the building that November weekend... the building was far from being finished... but we had a great time anyway! (No mirrors in the bathrooms... mattresses on the floors, because the bunk-bed builder left them high and dry... stuff like that!)
We used to do our door prizes based on number of finished projects at Camp. So... Amy (from KS -- who is coming this weekend and is going to KILL me for this!) would bring bibs that she'd half-stitched one way... to half-stitch the other way (no counting that way)... and try to get her name in that bowl. I don't think she ever finished anything -- ever -- at Camp... she was always too busy talking... so she never won anything!!! (No, the gals pictured at right aren't the ones we're talking about here...) One year... she was having a garage sale... and had all these $3.50 terry cloth bibs she'd bought... and never gotten stitched... so she was stitching Kansas City Chiefs logos on them... so they'd SELL AT THE GARAGE SALE!!! Yes... this was YEARS AGO... when all of us had lots more time on our hands... and lots less stitching sense!!!
My printer, Helen, met Dianne Tolle (from Cross Stitch Crazy, in AR... and now DKT Originals) at our Camps... and developed a friendship that later blossomed into the shop Cross Stitch Crazy!!! There's always somebody who comes with make-up and 'grown-up work clothes' Friday evening. That look don't show up again till Sunday, when they 'dress up' again for the real world, and then you recognize them again! Someone else, with comfy clothes and no make-up replaced them on Saturday, and you didn't put the two together in your mind, as the same person!!! We've lost power at Camp before and stitched with flashlights! We've been there in snowstorms before -- one time, the Interstate was closed Saturday Night... and we just KNEW we'd be 'stuck there!' We were SO HOPING... SO EXCITED, because there was plenty of snack food, and stitching to last days and days!!! Sunday, the darn sun came out... and we had to go home!!!
Awful meals... really good meals... awful projects... really good ones... we've really run the gambit these last 18 years with variety! We used to do some pretty 'crafty stuff' in the olden days... then migrated towards intricate samplers -- to actually teach stitches like a structured class... and have settled into 3 or 4 projects that have cool finishing techniques... and that GET FINISHED over the course of the weekend. I'm sure I'll get lots and lots of "remember when's" this weekend... so I'll make a list and share the juicy ones with you!!! We give everyone disposable cameras now, in their goody bags -- I found a promo place that did my logo on them... and the cameras come with free developing... so we'll see what the group comes up with pic-wise!!!
I need to go... the new Vera Bradley Silks came in today, and "Oh Mighty Webmaster" aka: Mary, is waiting for words so she can put them up on Just Arrived! Then, after that... it's back downstairs to cut and bundle kit threads!!! (Thank goodness for that 'last minute' when soooo much always gets done!!!) Till tomorrow...
Welcome to today's edition of "As the Silver Needle Stabs!" I guess I could re-phrase that and say "Stitches," couldn't I? (Depends on how you want my little daily Soap to read!!!)
It's time for a couple of Camp Wannasew stories. Our March Camp weekend begins this Thursday. Mona, Angie and I are knee-deep in kitting and preparing... so I thought this would be a good week to regale you with old Camp stories! I started Camp Wannasew in March of 1986. We got the idea from a customer attending a class who'd just come home from a week-long knitting 'thing'... and had just loved it! "A whole week?", we asked... "What did you do?" "Well, we just KNITTED!" (OK... "Did you finish anything...?")... "Oh, Heavens, NO!!! That wasn't the point!!!" Thus, the inspiration for Camp Wannasew was born!!! A stitching weekend away somewhere with friends, to just 'hang and stitch!'
I found a YMCA camp 40 miles from Tulsa, that was fine that first year... but in looking back just a few years later... just totally ICKY, ICKY!!! Mona was one of the gals at my first weekend... and we still laugh about it! We slept in cabins that had wood-burning stoves for heat... out-door bath-houses... and we had to trek our stuff down to the mess hall to stitch! No lights, no snacks -- just their food -- I can't believe that we actually had fun... or that anyone actually CAME BACK to another Camp the next year! I brought NOTHING for them to shop in all weekend, either!!! (As a shopowner... THAT makes me cringe the most!!!) The very next year... I'd already found our current location... complete with carpeting, air-conditioning, indoor plumbing, and an ice machine!!! Weekends grew from March to March and April... and the following year, 1987... we added October and November, too! I was pregnant in 1987... and don't remember doing Camp pregnant... but that was 'before baby'... and everybody's life is different 'before baby!!!' (I have lots of baby-in-the-shop pics and some children-in-the-shop horror stories for next week!) So... for these past 17-ish years... we've been taking (32 in the olden days in the old building) 52 ladies to a secluded, quiet church camp... to stitch, eat, stitch, talk, stitch, laugh, and stitch... all with very little sleep!
We've always tried to make our projects -- they come with the weekend -- pretty special, exclusive, and sort-of-finishable during the weekend. NOBODY needs to go to one of these kinds of things and come home with 4 MORE UFO's!!! (Unfinished Objects!) So, in 1991... Camp was the reason for Just Nan's first design, that I told you about a few days ago. We've sat around during the past Camp weekends and brainstormed about old projects, because I need to mention that *SEVERAL* ladies are at least 10+ year repeaters, and they remember them!!! (some projects more fondly than others!) I look at old Camp group shots and know EVERYBODY... 'cause they still come back every year! Anyway... I think I have a pic here of "Spooly Sheep"... a rather infamous project one year. (circa, early 90's, I think!) We tied little wooden spools together for four feet, glued a puffed ball of muslin on top... and tacked wooly yarn all over our little lambs. (It is wise to note at this time... that not all Campers 'bond' with all projects.) This particular time... someone HATED her little sheep... and never finished gluing the wool on his WHOLE back-end. She was *rather vocal* during the course of the weekend about the 'lack of sheep-to-shepherd' relationship she shared with her little guy. So, guess what...later that year, we found out that she went home, entered "Skin Butt" in her State Fair... and WON A RIBBON!!! (Go figure!!!)
One of my most favorite Camp Memories happened about 6 or 7 years ago. We always have dinner at a local Amish farm 3 miles from Camp. Our camp cooks for us one night and Edna COOKS & COOKS heaps of wonderful food for us the other. This particular time, (which month it was is a total blur to me, because I've been to something like 50 Camp weekends... and I'm beginning to get them confused!!!) the Camp Management at that time, ("Colonial Klink" -- an *affectionate* name -- is long gone, now) was overbearing, and quite distracted with whatever else he had to think about. He mixed up our evening meal schedule! Here we are... waiting for dinner on Friday night... 6:00 PM... nothing... 6:30... nothing... 32 starving women, in the middle of the woods... *like no Dominoes in sight for 50 miles*... so Karen, one of the shop gals walked over to the kitchen to check on the cooks... AND THERE WEREN'T ANY! HOLY COW... PANIC!!! Oh my gosh... I'm thinking I've screwed up and we've booked Edna tonight, and are standing her up!!! Our Amish have no telephones... so poor Edna can't call down to us to remind us... I feel like a HEEL! So... in record time for 32 women -- having to stop and go to the bathroom, get purses and sweaters and all, we high-tailed it out of Camp and appeared at Edna's doorstep not 10 minutes later!
She is always so gracious! So... CALM! Well, all 32 of us start piling into her house... only to notice that there is another group there eating OUR food!!! Poor Edna almost has heart failure thinking SHE'D messed up and forgot she was supposed to cook for us! After we had a few breathless moments... we both realized that Colonial Klink is to blame! OK... 7:30pm... 32 starving women... some getting mad now... in the middle of nowhere... ......... no crummy Dominoes...
Edna's sister owns a small local Amish restaurant in the nearby town -- population 1500. If we get there before Fanny closes, Edna tells us... maybe Fanny's Dutch Pantry Restaurant can feed us! OK... another break-neck speed trip to Fanny's...4 miles up the road. We get there... and Gee... they were closing in half and hour, and running out of food! The little cashier would have to ask if they could feed us!!! By now, crackers and water are sounding pretty good... so I'm behaving... as I hold open the door for my ladies to pass.
ALL OF THE SUDDEN, these two HUGE yellow church busses pull up... FULL of people... who, as they were barging in front of me while I was holding open the restaurant door for MY ladies, informed me that THEY had 'reservations' and would be seated first! (We're in the middle of nowhere... I have 32 hungry women here... and thankfully this place takes credit cards, because I'm about to put 32 dinners (I had no idea how much that was going to run...) on my credit card... and their head-of-the-group-guy is "messin with me!!!") !!! Well, at that moment... our Camp Wannasew Guardian Angel stepped in... and waved my group into the buffet line! Dinner was fabulous... homemade everything... chicken, stuffing, potatoes, corn, the WORKS! It was unforgettable... especially when, on our way out of the restaurant, we saw the yellow-bus group standing in line after US to finally begin eating!!! Turns out that we got there at 7:27 or something, and their 'reservations' weren't until 7:30!!!
Colonial Klink reimbursed me... Camp 'retired him' a little while later, and now we have a SCHEDULE with Edna, and Jim... the now-wonderful Camp Management!
We have some good shots of past Camps up on the Camp pages... I imagine we'll put a few new ones up in the next few months or so... but go look if you never have... I think you might enjoy some of the old pics!
You know... I'm really having fun jabbering on and on everyday like this! We're starting to get some really nice e-mails and phone calls about all this... It's a wonderful excuse to dish with our long-time customers and the shop gals to see what everybody holds to be special memories!
I hadn't thought of Jim The Barber in a long time... till I wrote the last ditty. I met Jim -- who was already 'super-old' the first day I took possession of my new little space. I was in there sweeping the floor and sanding those fabric shelves to re-paint. (The whole space was painted black and white -- see those awful blinds from the first day?) Anyhow, he was the barber two doors down from our space... and just a 'nice guy with nothing better to do than talk, cut hair, talk and talk some more! He thought we were the BEST THING that had ever happened to the shopping center! He'd come over and chat (flirt, with us 30 yr olds, I think!) and NEVER leave! His customers would just walk in over there... and s i t ... until he showed up to give them their $6 haircut! Jim always had a pocket-full of cash... I think those $6 haircuts added up fast! Anyhow, he was our 'banker' whenever we needed change for big bills... and he was our 'security system!'-- we'd given him a key to the space... just in case...!
One evening... Lucy and Ethel, aka Peggy and Deanna, were there till 6 PM closing... but had let their third worker leave a few minutes early. I don't remember who it was... but she'd locked them in for safety. Well, come time to leave, neither Lucy or Ethel's keys would work to unlock the door from the inside... because the lock was too close to the metal door jamb for their too-big-keys to fit into and turn! (That was before the days of city codes and thumb-latches!) Holy Cow... LOCKED INSIDE THE SHOP FOREVER... or until tomorrow...! So... Peggy and Deanna had to do everything they could think of to create attention from inside the locked shop -- to get Jim's attention as he was leaving for the day! He did indeed save the day... and get them out of there!
We've had several 'Lucy & Ethel' situations pop up through the years... I think every shop has had them... at least, I HOPE we're not the only ones!!! I remember a *week-ish* when we'd lost the check endorsement stamp under the sales counter... and didn't even know it. It got mixed up with misc stuff... and buried! We discovered later, that we'd been endorsing all our in-coming customer checks "Compliments of The Silver Needle!!!" (Thank God for machines at banks, that can't REALLY read!!!)
Another time, Deanna, (she DOES always seem to be involved in these things, doesn't she?) Devra, and Linda Stolz -- before Erica Michaels Designs! -- were all closing. We had some last minute out-of-town customers in who were checking out as they were balancing the drawer. You guessed it... this *trio of talent* packed the entire days receipts along with the next day's drawer money in their bags!!! I was out of town at Market at the time... so I was spared the sordid details of 'the rescue'...but I think they did something like stick a wimpy sticky-paper note on the shop doors, with a phone number... asking if anyone knew where our money was!!! Viola! The Travelers must have realized their windfall wasn't meant to be... and returned it to us -- all before I got home from my trip! (Whew, for the trio!!!)
We had a very cheerful and unconcerned customer a few years ago, who'd been meaning to call... but hadn't gotten around to it. I'd imputed her $16.50 Secret Needle Night charge into the system, but did something to the decimal point, so she'd paid $1650.00 that month! Well, THAT really did a number on the sales figures the day we had to refund that error!!! She was just so nice about it... I was sooo relieved!
My husband Craig and I have discovered a new favorite restaurant less than a mile from our house. It's all Kristine's fault! Just last year... she waited on two gals who were visiting from out-of-town. When they checked out... they gave us $200 of traveler's checks -- which Kristine had never had any experience with. She neglected to get them signed!!! PANIC REIGNED... along with the horrible frustration that you've just made a terrible, irreversible mistake that will haunt you for the rest of your days!!! You can't deposit them unsigned... they'll kick out of the banking system. You can't forge the signature -- that's illegal. We were out*of*luck!!! We didn't know their names, had no phone numbers... nothing. They were so busy checking out and dishing over their new things, that they didn't notice, either! We remembered their dinner plans for the evening -- learned that in the chatting back and forth while they were shopping -- and called the restaurant. "No, nobody that meets that description in here..." I ran by there on my way home -- to double check -- no diners that sounded like these two... n o t h i n g. (But this is a *really, really cool place*... so I'm making a mental note about coming back sometime!) Kristine has by now been on the phone with me three times... so, so sorry... when the restaurant CALLS! My two ladies are leaving!!! I dashed up there... we all had a really nice chat, and she signed her checks! They were both so gracious about all of it... and the best things to come out of all of it, are two really nice customers, who always say hi! on the phone and at the Consumer shows... and Kilkenney's -- an authentic Irish Pub -- less than a mile from my house!!!
I have lots more to cover this week, and next... Camp Wannasew stories, things about my 10 years on the Board of my shop-owner's trade organization -- INRG -- lots of memories of my daughter, Natalie's early years at SN... definite shop 'disasters'... I've given Mary some more pics to scan... but I'm still digging for some I know I have... but don't know where they are!! So... off to another day at the shop... and more dishing about old stories! Talk to you tomorrow!!!
Well, you've now heard what a classy influence Nan had on us when she came to work at SN! We actually thought we were pretty OK before she came... but we loved having her for the next 7 or 8 or 9-ish years that she was here. I have no idea what year she started... but I bet she knows the exact day and month! (I'll ask her when I talk to her next!) The Silver Needle is busily chugging along... walls are filling even more and more... floor is getting more cluttered... the barber next door keeps coming over and chatting -- only we don't have to chat -- and so he's driving us nuts! (I guess I need to tell stories of him this month, too! He was the oldest tenant in the shopping center when I opened... and he just thought the sun and moon rose and set on us! He LOVED having a shop full of women right next door!!! I guess we were his entertainment!!!)
Anyway, back to Nan and Just Nan! JNO1 -- Just Nan's first design is one of Silver Needle's shop exclusives for one of our Camp Wannasew weekends! It came out of Nan's frustration about my disorganization!!! We were knee-deep in 'things' and Camp was coming. I knew I wanted a sampler, I knew my colors, I knew my stitches, I knew my verse... and I'm sure I wanted something really cute! We'd worked together Monday and Tuesday... She'd bugged me both days if I'd designed that thing yet... and I'd had to tell her a big fat NO! So Thursday comes... and she says, "Oh, give me that thing!!! I'll see what I can do!" And... true to Nan, she presented it the next week... all stitched, charted... and if memory serves me correctly -- FRAMED, as well!!! It is a darling Noah's Ark sampler that is right now, hanging on my office wall. I can see it from my computer... it's dated and signed by NDC in 1991! She says her following is always looking for the elusive JNO1 pattern -- and it frustrates them that it isn't available!!!
Then... Trunk Shows!!!
For shops and designers, Trunk Shows are a double-edged sword... so much work, but j*u*s*t worth it!!! Trunk Shows are basically a designer's way to loan shops their models for a few weeks... to help foster interest in their line. For the designer... these models are their pride and joy... expensive to produce... and show scheduling is sometimes a nightmare to juggle, what with shipping and slow shops that don't pay or return models on time. For shops, these things are great fun... but hard if something gets stolen, frustrating to have to display well -- especially if the shop is short on space. Ordering is always a gamble... and quite frankly... so is the entire show! Sometimes the previous shop hasn't sent it off in time... sometimes the models are just the pits and you don't even want to display them... consignment ordering is a real pain... and packing up everything correctly and getting it off on time is stressful!
So here's Just Nan... still a new designer... that has begun Trunk Shows. (I'm thinking this is in 1993 or so...) From the beginning, Nan has never done anything half-way, or cheaply. Her show was Awesome! (They were... if I remember... models that had been hanging in our shop... and it was time to share them!) Brand new commercial shipping trunks... beautifully framed samplers... definitely top notch... and a labor of love for her. The show was coming back from Sew Original in Bakersfield CA... due to be shipped to her house... when the UPS guy delivered our shop stuff that day... and pulled me into the back room. Nan's stuff was 'a little scuffed' and he thought he better bring it in... but maybe I'd want to tell her first. HOLY COW... THE DARN THING HAD BEEN RUN OVER BY A TRUCK! Her beautiful, brand-new, commercial trunk actually had tire marks on it... a truck had run over it, stopped, and BACKED UP!!! We could see the whole trip on there!!! I got on the phone with Sharon's shop and we determined that they had, in fact, insured the show for what they were supposed to -- per the trunk show contract -- and Nan was covered. BUT... I will never forget her reaction, and our mortification when we opened this crushed trunk to discover all the broken frames. Nan never shipped models with glass on them... so none of the stitching was cut. It was just such a memorable day... ! The UPS guy wasn't even supposed to bring it to the shop -- it was supposed to be delivered to Nan's house that day... but he knew she'd be working at SN ... and knew she'd want to see it ASAP! She did trunk shows for a few years after that... but like so many, have stopped doing them because of 'wear and tear' on the models and designer!!!
Ok... so the little shop is growing a little...
The walls kept filling with models... I kept hiring new gals... we just chugged along for the next 18 years! Just a couple of quick thoughts, today...
Here is an early pic... when we still had the first 660 square feet of space. Remember that I took over the Pizza place next door in late summer of 1985... and moved my fabric area... so I know this is still the first spot. It's probably Spring of 1985. Julie is sitting on the floor... pregnant with her daughter who is now 20-ish. The gal standing behind her... with the pearls on...is Gina, who now works for Bent Creek!!! I don't remember who the other two are in the shot... but I think we're there right after our Superbowl Sale, cleaning up! (We don't wear pearls and lacy collared blouses to work anymore... look how dressed up Gina looked!!!)
Remembering the employees... I found Devra -- who's worked at SN for 18-ish years, like Deanna... as a customer -- I mailed her a postcard asking if she'd work for me! Devra ran into Angie, years later in the grocery store, and found out Angie had retired from teaching... so told her to come in for a job! I hired Angie! Somewhere along the line, Diana came along. When she and Angie worked together for the first time... there was RECOGNITION! It turned out that Angie was Diana's 6th grade teacher! To make matters all the more funny... one of their shared memories is the time Teacher Angie PINNED a note to 6th grade Diana's blouse to REMIND her to bring back the picture money that was overdue!!! They both still tease each other about that one!!!
Oh, back to one of those first day shots... see the needlepoint canvases on the wall -- high up on the left??? Those were tennis shoe canvases! I bought them from Seebo's creations -- long, long out-of-business now, but big in the industry back then. I thought they would be a nice, unique addition to my beginning inventory offerings. Mom and I each needlepointed a pair of tennis shoes, to be sent to Van's Shoe Company in CA, for assembly into actual, live Keds-looking tennis shoes! Mom did hers, sent them in for 'processing' and STILL WEARS her tennis shoes!!! (Really, I can't believe it... and I love seeing them on her feet!!!) I, on the other hand, took a little longer to finish mine. I don't pull stitching too tight, so mine were nice and puffy. I sent them in... and never heard back! I called... they'd lost my canvas! DEVASTATION!!! I'd worked months on those... and they were just gone! Probably a year after I opened, I got a call from some secretary who'd cleaned her office and found my canvas behind her file cabinet! HOLY COW, life was looking good! However... the canvas had been too thick to fit through their shoe-processing machines... so they were returning the stitched canvas pieces to me! DEVASTATION again!!! Mom had shoes... I'd worked hard for mine, and all I had to show for it was this dumb canvas of shapes for shoes!!! I marched the canvas over to the dry cleaners, and asked them to press them as flat as they could. DEVASTATION again, as my little shoe canvases looked like the flattened Road Runner in all the cartoons. We're talking paper-thin!!! So... with tears in my still-new-shop-owner-eyes... I re-sent in my canvas. They made the shoes a size too big, and two sizes too wide. I have still to wear them... but they ARE STILL in my closet!!! I just can't bear to part with them!!!
Last evening, was one of The Silver Needle's finer moments! Maureen, one of the gals who's been with us only a year and a half, is moving. A huge group of us gathered together for her farewell dinner last night. I think what struck me early on in the evening was the fact that we weren't there because we all work together... we were all there because of the friendships we've developed with each other over the years! Of course, I've known this all along... but to see a group of gals who obviously have so much fun together at work, and know that they've become friends in 'real-life' too... I realize that my little shop brought so many of them together in the first place, and it's really touching!
Terry, the limerick and rhyming Queen of all time, collaborated with Harriet, and they wrote three pages of rhymes and jokes about Maureen's antics at SN. We were absolutely in tears from laughing so much! Then, Kristine stood up and sang a little Irish song she'd made up kind of saying goodby, we'd always welcome her back... and gosh, in the meantime, we'd blame every mistake we make from now on... on her!!!
We've had so many fun gals working in the shop over the years... Deanna was one of the earliest. (Actually my 4th or 5th employee, I think... I'd hired a few Saturday and weekday ladies already, but none as memorable as Deanna!!!) Anyway, here's Deanna -- a customer -- I knew her face, not her name. In those early days, the cross-stitch industry was HOT with pre-made tea towels and bibs for the Dale Burdette and Alma Lynne designs. Lots of Gloria & Pat... lots of lacy pre-finished hoops and things... you can see all the dinky little brooms and stuff in those first and second day pictures. Well, Stitches by Virginia Lawson was a place that made towels and aprons. The aprons were a *high ticket* item for me, selling for a whopping $25 each! (Totally drippy now... these things were made of calico fabric, and a gathered skirt, and ruffly aida cloth insets on the tops... so we could stitch something like gooses that said "Welcome Friends" on them. 20 years ago, our industry stitched gooses and welcome friends on EVERYTHING -- even our chests!!! I'm so glad we're past that phase!) So... here comes Deanna, she's ordered TWO of these aprons! Special orders are always a gamble for shops... but gosh, she came in and BOUGHT them!!! That was it... I hired her!!! Her three kids were younger than my Natalie is now... we don't know exactly when Deanna started at SN... but it's more than 18 years ago!!!
Then, on the scene arrives, Peggy! Another regular customer... Peggy and Deanna became Lucy and Ethel! They STILL ARE!!! Peggy hasn't worked in the shop for years... but her legacy is her name. We always order lunches at the shop under the name of "Peggy" because the restaurants never misspell or forget it. You try a name like Lindy or Deanna... and you could get any of 15 different names instead. Peggy is always Peggy! A couple of years later, Dianne joined the scene. Lucy and Ethel became Larry, Curly, and Moe! The three of them -- all still L, C & M sometimes -- got into painted sweatshirts one year. For Christmas, they painted white sweatshirts and sweatpants with holiday bulbs... and wore them in the shop. Those outfits lasted two years, till Nan came on the scene! Nan (aka Just Nan) was yet another regular customer... who Peggy and Deanna 'talked into' working at SN. Nan would come in on Monday... buy all the linen and silks for a project, and come in with it finished the next week. WAY TOO MUCH TIME on this woman's hands... so we hired her!
I remember the first time Nan heard that she'd be expected to paint a set of sweats and *even worse* be seen in public wearing them... she put her foot down and insisted on 'nice sweaters' instead! So... years and years of wonderful Holiday sweaters followed... we'd start shopping in October, to find matching ones we all liked! What a good excuse for new Christmas sweaters every year!
Nedra found me within months of being open... the local Scuba shop had let me put my new business cards on their counter... ! She was a customer for 15 years before she realized how much money she could save by working here and getting the employee discount! (Just kidding about that part -- but it is a definite perk!)
Anyway, the thing that make these silly memories so special is the fact that over the years... so many of my gals have developed LASTING friendships. (All while selling aprons and tea towels!!!)
Yesterday's thoughts continue...
I'd always wanted to own a cross-stitch shop! There were three really neat shops in Milwaukee, WI -- where I'm from -- that I used to shop in -- as a 'real customer!' 25 years ago, I always wanted to 'be there,' at all of them all the time! Arte of the Needle, owned by Catherine Liska is still there... (Yea, Catherine!!!) Needle Art Studio was owned by an older, retired man -- Dick Doyan -- who sold Danish Handcraft Guild designs, that I loved; and Fibre Arts was my most local shop. Hazel sat with me, and taught me lots and lots!!! (I was one of those customers who spent 2 hours in the shop... and spent $5.00 .. because that's all I could!!! It never seemed to matter to any of them... I was just so happy to be able to spend 2 hours of free time in place that I loved!)
When I was looking at retail spaces, that accountant, Craig, made me park in front of 'desired spaces' and count the cars passing through, vs parking!!! I *remember* doing that! Did it serve a purpose... I haven't a clue, now!!! I do remember, making the decision to open -- based on family. Do we want a baby or a shop? A Baby... or a shop? A baby or a Shop??? Craig and I decided that if we had a baby... the shop would never come. So... Silver Needle was born... and Natalie followed 3 years and 10 months later!!! (Oh, sure, lots of stories and pics of Natalie to follow!!!)
I had this brainy idea in December of 1984. Craig was so 'goony' about the darn Superbowl. It was such a cool day for a guy who loved that sort of thing... why couldn't it be cool for someone like me - a stitcher -- who thought all that football stuff was dribble??? It was a Sunday... what else was there to do, but SHOP??? We announced our first Superbowl Sale in January of 1995. I KNOW I have a pic somewhere of it... I can see the composition... but I can't find it to show you! We had me, and my two employees ( I was big-time by then!) working. Oh MY GOSH... three other customers stayed to help -- we were so busy!! My pic (that I can't find) shows wall-to-wall shoppers passing picture frames over the heads of each other, because nobody could move in that 660 square feet! I panicked, because I KNEW that my wonderful, little, organized, stocked, little shop was being PILLAGED, and I would NEVER re-gain control or organization, EVER again!!!
In the meantime... little SN grew from 660 square feet to about 1,000, I think. We were next to a they-make-it-you-bake-it pizza place that wasn't doing a good job 'making them'... so we took over that space!!! I remember next to nothing about that expansion... just the dust of the demolition... That expansion took place in June of 1986.
I've got to tell you about Deanna, tomorrow. Not my first employee... but certainly one that holds a special place in my heart. Deanna has worked here for 19 years...
February 28, 1984
I open the shop tomorrow... I remember so little about the general day-to-day hub-bub up until this time... but I remember that my Mom and Dad had driven down from Milwaukee to be here, and offer moral support. Dad is standing there in the doorway just before I open... the space had these awful black mini-blinds that we got rid of pretty quickly... but there's Dad... with the morning paper in hand!
That's me, 20 years ago, standing in front of what is now, the old shop, that first, or second day! Check out the muslin table skirts in the shop. Mom and I found a 'bargain' and bought 100 yards of muslin for $2.00 a yard to make those!!! (They're covering generic folding tables.) We found out after they were sewn that it wasn't permanent press muslin!!!!! I can't tell you how many times I'd be ironing those darn skirts in the years to come!!!
|OK... there I am, maybe the first day... flowers from my brother came the second day... and they weren't on the counter yet... so this is definitely the first day... mouth open -- as usual, my employees will tell you! -- helping somebody! I remember that I placed an ad in the Yellow Pages that came out in January... announcing that we'd open March 1st... so I had to get an answering machine to give info even before we opened -- because of that ad!
Anyway, my first customer -- Pat C -- from Broken Arrow had been calling... and Dad answered the phone that Wednesday -- the day before we opened -- (Mom and I were running some errand or other, and left Dad 'in charge!') She wanted to verify what time we opened the next day... Dad told her 10:00... "But you can come at 9:00!" Oh, my gosh... the next morning... Pat and Judy were there at 9:00 AM!!!!!
|The day before we opened... handy-man husband, Craig, and Dad were supposed to hang the peg-board that you see all the frames and yarn hanging on. Well... here are Mom and me... inventory all priced, table skirts sewn and pressed, DINNER PROBABLY ALREADY READY... and here are Dad and Craig needing more bolts or a better drill or whatever... for the cement block walls to get that peg board hung... need I go on? They finished their job at 3pm that Wednesday... and Mom and I stayed up till 2 the next morning getting everything put out for sale!!! (so, you can imagine how ready we were for those 9am customers!!!)
|The gal in the photo standing in front of the partially-filled yarn wall (I started out with a little needlepoint -- another story for a different day!) is Betsy Z. She's still a 'regular' in the shop -- probably at least once a week!!! Then, notice those FULL walls!!! I opened with 9 shop models!!! I'd stitched them all... I had tons of things at home, but they weren't current things that I could sell... so I had a few Dale Burdett things, something from Graphic Needle Arts, and that was it!!! I borrowed a Trunk Show from a Danish cross-stitch shop in Milwaukee those first two weeks... so I looked 'fuller' than I really was!
I opened with 660 square feet (we have 4,000 now) and I was rattling! So much space, so much rent... it was a little scary! The gal in the red top opened a beautiful quilting shop in Tulsa (Mary Beth's Threads) a few years later... she was only in business a year... gone now. The lady standing just inside the windows, below the 'Needle' was a dear friend of my Aunt Mag's... Dottie was there my first day -- just to bring well wishes. She passed away a few years ago... so I'm glad I have this pic of her!
Before I opened, Craig -- the ever-viligant accountant-- made me do tons of business plans -- 'whatever THEY were!' (Just busy-work, pain-in-the-rear-stuff, to me!) ( I didn't even know how to handle the joint checkbook...!) I had to project my daily sales for the first 6 months... to calculate break-even points, feasability, budgeting... that kind of stuff. He made me call and find out all the utility depostis... ick like that! OK, so I anticipated $25.00 of sales each day for my first month... then raised that figure to $35/day for my second month. (Being newly-weds, he'd have freaked if he'd found out that I'd spent $25 that month on my personal hobby.)
After Pat C came in... Barbara H from Claremore came in... and spent $51.00 on BOOKS!!! Oh my gosh, $51.00!!! THEN, she came back the second day and spent ANOTHER $49.00!!! We threw out the business plans I'd done!!! I knew that I loved this cross-stitch stuff... but never really thought that there were others that had that much money!!! I remember the first piece of fabric that I cut was for a Tina Richard's pattern done for Vanessa Ann... a 25ct Natural linen piece...
We'll show you this week, some 'before and after' shots of these walls... I wish I had more pictures than I do... and I wish they were of better quality... but 20 years ago, I NEVER dreamed that I'd be talking to anybody over the internet, and showing them all my prized and precious memories!!! I probably won't be as 'wordy' every day this month ( in case this was boring for you) ... but its totally off the top of my head... I have a list... but things just keep coming to mind!!!
gotta go... the Academy Awards are calling...!
|There's even MORE!
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