Minnesota quilters find that 'shop hop' event is tailor-made
You've seen one quilt shop, you've seen them all, right? Say that to shop owners and their customers, and you'll be itching for a fight. "There is a difference between every shop," insists quilter Diane Eldridge of Esko. "They don't all carry the...
You've seen one quilt shop, you've seen them all, right?
Say that to shop owners and their customers, and you'll be itching for a fight.
"There is a difference between every shop," insists quilter Diane Eldridge of Esko. "They don't all carry the same patterns and books. They even carry different brands of material."
Those differences are exactly what quilt shops around the state are banking on as they gear up for the fourth annual Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop beginning Friday and running through Aug. 15.
"It's fun and interesting to see what other shops have to offer," Eldridge said.
Visiting the shops inspires people, said Donna Kohne, manager of Quilters Coop in West Duluth.
"They usually go home with tons of ideas of what they want to do for the year," she said. "There are people who travel the whole state to do this."
Quilting has become more popular as people stay home because of the economy, said Sue Poser, event coordinator.
"When we stay at home, we have to do something," she said. "American women are trying to find a niche for themselves, and it's a creative, unique way for them to express themselves."
And to accommodate all those quilters, there are a lot of quilt shops these days. Eighty-two of the 90 to 95 in Minnesota will be participating in the shop hop -- 18 of them in Northland.
"It's an opportunity to draw people into the store that might not have been here before," said Kelly Mattson, owner of Kelly J's Sewing Center & Quilt Shop in rural Duluth. "If they have fun, and if we offer them something they haven't gotten before, they want to come back."
For 17 days, quilters can travel around the state and visit participating shops. Some bus tours are planned. Many shops will extend their hours and offer specials.
"It's not that you go to these sales for sales," Kohne said. "Most people go because they want the fabric and want to qualify for the different prizes the regions put up together."
Participants can get free passports that are stamped at each shop they visit. They get complimentary fabric pieces designed exclusively for the event as well as quilt block patterns created by the individual shops. Only participating stores will have these limited edition items.
Get enough shop stamps and people can qualify for a chance to win regional and state prizes. Northeastern Minnesota's prize is a $4,000 quilting machine, which takes seven shop visits to enter. The statewide prize is an Alaskan cruise for two, which takes eight shop visits in each of the state's seven sections to enter.
The annual shop hop was started by Poser to spark up the slowest time of the year for quilt shops.
"It's turned into the best sales month of the year for quilt shops in Minnesota," said Poser, who owns Gruber's Quilt Shop in St. Cloud.
While there are regional shop hops, this is the only statewide one in the United States, Poser said.
With each year, participation doubles, said Poser, who got more than 1,000 more visitors at her shop alone during last year's shop hop.
Participation has also increased at Kelly J's in Normanna Township, which has been part of the shop hop all four years.
"It's gotten larger every year," said Mattson of Kelly J's. "We see people who come every year, from all over. Some fly in from the state of Washington. It's become a big event that draws a lot of traffic."
The first year, 200 people visited the shop with their stamped passports. Last year, Mattson said she had close to 400.
"Definitely, it's a good thing for businesses in this industry," she said. "And because so many people are coming from outside the area, naturally restaurants and hotels will benefit. And because Duluth is such a destination, some may stay over to see other attractions as well."