This past week my big Bernina 830 (aka Gibbs), decided he would not sew another stitch until he had his spa treatment. I would say his “annual” spa treatment, but it had been two years since he had been to the machine vet and I had put on about 1.3 million stitches in that time. Last year, G Street Fabrics where my dealer was had closed two of their stores in the area and drawn back to a single store in Rockville, Maryland. They recently moved to another building in Rockville. When I took him there, Mei-Ling Huang, the head of their Bernina section and my same dealer that was in a closer store that closed, showed me around. I decided to take my camera when I went back to pick up Gibbs, which apparently had only some minor things wrong that Lew, the technician wizard, fixed quickly for me and did the “annual” clean and check, upon learning that I have several quilt deadlines coming up fast. He fussed at me though about taking so long, pointing out that I have about 460 hours on the machine and suggested I divide the workload with a longarm. Frankly, I was surprised it was that low. Thank you Lew!!!!!!!
There is kind of a warehouse feel about the new store, but this may not be a bad thing. It is much like some stores in New York I have been to that have some great fabrics, trims, buttons, and notions. Two of the most outstanding things about the new location are the Bernina section, which I will talk about separately, and a bunch of classrooms that have windows and light and look fabulous to teach in. The selection of fabrics is fairly substantial, though not to the level it used to be in its old glory days over a decade ago, but a good place to go when you are starting a project. They have a very nice selection of home decorator fabrics, which make wonderful bags, coats, and costume segments, by the way.
Their quilting fabrics are ok, but I hope that as they pull themselves out of the hole that they will increase this section substantially. Nevertheless, you can probably find the quilting cottons you need for a nice quilt project.
They also have a nice selection of buttons and trims, though substantially smaller than the great old store of yore. Still, if you need buttons or trim for clothing, you can probably find what you need here.
Sew did I find the general part of the new G Street to be the fabulous, exciting place that it was in its glory days with its stages where the tailoring and the special occasion fabrics were shown in all their magnificent beauty and the quilting section was wonderful?…no. Is it still the mecca for fabraholics the world over as it used to be? No. But I do think it has the possibility of reaching that place again and the class rooms really offer a wonderful possibility for building the future. This seems a very good move on the whole for the store. I found that they do not carry any thread brand I would use in the general store…they need to think about that. Perhaps they don’t realize that some of us really dislike some of the brands they carry. They have some wonderful fabrics that make one drool.
Most of all, however, I loved the Bernina section, which is still in process after the move. It is in a separate smaller wing of the building. Mei-Ling and her crew have already given it an atmosphere of coziness and inspiration. She told me that they are still organizing, so I anticipate that it will be downright fabulous in a month or so. They run their new owner classes in this part of the store.
As you probably know, I am trying to sell some of my quilts. You can see which ones here. Mei-Ling has generously offered to hang some of these quilts on her walls, so I took three of them there…”Waiting…”, “Quiet Celebration”, and “The Storyteller”.
What do I hope the store will do? I have a few suggestions:
- Increase the quilting fabric section, and emphasize it as much as clothing and home dec sections.
- I didn’t check it out, so I don’t know how this is, but be sure to have a solid and good offering of battings, fusibles, interfacings, and other underpinnings for clothes, quilts, bags, and fabric art of all kinds.
- Start carrying Superior, Aurifil, and/or Wonderfill threads..in a broad selection of weights and fibers.
- Emphasize the wonderful class rooms and fill them up. Carry the threads, fabrics, books, and supplies needed for these classes so once someone learns something they can find what they need there.
- Remember the store’s legacy and try to reach that again, and don’t try to be another Jo Ann’s or some such. High quality fabrics with proper pricing (not 25 percent higher than anywhere else, in other words), draw people in.
If you are near Rockville, I hope you will stop by and see what you think of this “new” old G Street Fabrics for yourself. Be sure to look in the Bernina section and say “Hi” to Mei-Ling and look at my quilts on the wall. This nice store is about 50 minutes away over heavily traveled highways in heavy traffic, making it a little cumbersome for me to use on a regular basis, but I will certainly continue to go there for my Bernina needs.
Sew happy everyone. I hope you have a good fabric store near you.