In this economy, it's not at all uncommon to see those "Building For Rent" signs. They seem to spread like a plague, outside of shops and stores that you were just in a few days ago. It's a really sad thing. It's particularly sad when you have an emotional connection to said businesses.
Two businesses related to crafting and sewing were just closed down in my area. One was a tailoring business, run by a sweet talented Persian gentleman, who had a beautiful sewing station full of a rainbow of wooden spools of thread, ones that remind me of my grandmother's vintage wooden spools from her days as a seamstress in Italy.
While I love to sew and I'm always looking for challenges to improve my skills, I hesitate bringing the scissors to a beautiful expensive new maxi dress that needs to be hemmed, especially as I don't have a large enough sewing station to really make large cuts to big pieces of fabric and clothing, so I defer those types of repairs and alterations to the professionals.
(Fun Fact: I'm only 5'0" so tailoring and hemming is practically my middle name, since even petite ranges of clothing can be too long for me)
He always made beautiful alterations to my clothes, so I was very sad to see that horrible "For Rent" sign in the windows of his empty premises.
Another sad blow to the sewing scene in the area was the shut down a wonderful and adorable independent quilting shop. I had a real emotional connection with this shop - it was the first place I had ever went to buy fabric. I went in with my first pattern, clueless and new to the world of sewing, after just receiving my first sewing machine. The owner of the shop was a wonderful and sweet woman, and she helped me out to find the right kind of fabric, determine the proper yardage, and other such things.
Her store was so warm spirited and full of quilters who were working on projects together, waiting for them next class to begin on the hour. They all smiled to see a young girl learning to sew, and gave some advice on what to do with the pattern, all of which utterly confused me at the time as I knew not one thing about sewing.
A few months ago, the store was downsized to help with the costs during the recession, and I could tell it was quite the blow to the owner. Her beautiful bustling shop was cut to a quarter of the size it was, and there was no longer room for classes or people to work on projects together inside. It was upsetting to see.
Just a few weeks ago, while going out for an emergency run for needles, after having broken my last one being careless while sewing a zipper (a bad sewing habit of mine!), I discovered the entire shop was gone. The windows were whited out, and everything was gone. It was just a shell of the former beautiful sewing shop that was my first step into the crafting world, and it really bothered me.
It seems like every independent crafting shop is dissappearing these days. The first time I've seen one in a while was just last week, while I was in England to visit the boyfriend. There was a small one in a shopping arcade in Leicester, and it was delightful to see. They sold all sorts of things, even purse frames, which are impossible for me to find in the US - I always have to buy those online in bulk from Asia.
Instead of sulking though, once I finish this post, I'm going to make a conscious effort to try to find at least o ne independent crafting shops in the area and frequent them. If I can support this shop, even just to buy small purchases from them, instead of always shopping at local JoAnns for everything, I'll feel like I'm contributing to the crafting culture.
This is a challenge I'd recommend to all of my readers. I'll end this blog entry with a question to the commenters: Have you had a similar experience with a beloved independent craft shop?