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You may have seen on my geocities webpages, and on each of these pages, a header saying "Please support your local independent fabric shop". You may even find it quite annoying. Well, I have good reason to feel this way. I used to work in an independent fabric shop. Kovack's, a great fabric shop here in Milwaukee, closed about 5 years ago. Ruhama's, a yarn shop here that used to carry nice dressmaking fabrics, stopped, and now focuses only on yarn and needlepoint. While there still is a nice fabric shop here, The Cutting Table, I can no longer buy Ambiance locally, or silk duppioni, or other finer dressmaking fabrics.

Consider the following story:
Once upon a time in a medium sized city, there lived a lady called Suzie. Suzie loved to sew. In Suzie's town, there were a few fabric stores, one of which was a member of a large nation-wide chain. Another store was a large store, part of a local chain owned by a local person. There were also a few quilting stores. And there was one really nice, but small, fabric shop. This shop was also a sewing machine dealership.

Now there arrived in the town, another big store, the super store of department stores. This store had a small fabric department. And the prices were so low! Suzie began to visit this store frequently. She made less and less visits to the small but good fabric store, and more and more visits to the big super store. Soon Suzie no longer went to the small fabric store. If she couldn't get the fabric for rock bottom prices, she didn't want it. Price became the bottom line for Suzie.

Then one day, a terrible thing happened. Suzie read in the newspaper that the small fabric store was closing at the end of the month. What was she going to do? she had bought her sewing machine there four years ago - who was going to service it now? And her daughter was getting married in June. Where was she going to buy any decent fabric for her own outfit? she could find the plain crepe and chiffons for the bridesmaids' dresses at one of the other stores, but she was really hoping to buy something special for herself at this "nice" store. Suzie's first reaction to the news was one of shock. Then she felt real disappointment that yet another fabric store would be gone. Lord knows, there was not much choice left in town before this. Now there would be even less. Then Suzie became angry - how could this have happened? Why couldn't the store stay in business? Finally, Suzie's emotions became those of regret, as she realized that she was part of the reason for the store closing. True, she wasn't a major buyer. She probably only bought about $500 of fabric per year. But then she multiplied that $500 by all the friends she knew who also had begun buying at the big store. It all added up - to the failure of one small "good" fabric store.

About 4 years ago, Kathy Ruddy told her audience that 30 years ago there were 60,000 fabric stores in the US. At the time Kathy was speaking, which was 1997, there were 6000 of those stores left. Most of the "mom and pop" stores had folded in the wake of the big guns. You know who I mean - I don't have to name names. I might get sued if I did! But it only takes one sewer multiplied by all the rest of us, to kill the little stores.

So, when you see another small "good" fabric store closing, think hard about who your dollars are supporting. You can choose to spend your money at the big store which will bring in more of the same or you can spend less often and more wisely, at the store which will listen to you, the customer. That little store that will order in some fine silk for your wedding outfit, that small store that will give you personal service on your sewing machine. Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Support your small "good" fabric stores. They cannot remain in business without you.

This is a true story of Goodmans' Fabrics here in Halifax. A store that had been in business for over 60 years is closing its doors in less than a month. To Jill, who has managed to keep it going for the last eight years, thank you and we will miss you.

Sewing World