Nessa Reifsnyder and her son Willis at stand in front of a quilt made by Maine quilter, Robin Zelonis.
The shop features fabrics with iconic images of Maine
On a rainy morning this past summer, Nessa Reifsnyder—co-owner of Fabricate, a cozy quilt shop housed in a 1930s-era erstwhile gas station in Bar Harbor, Maine—was busily preparing for the influx of customers that would soon descend upon her store.
Jazz music played softly in the background, a tribute to Nessa’s upbringing as the child of jazz musicians, and old family photos adorned the walls, adding to the comfortable ambiance. Nessa’s high-school-aged son, Willis, employed by his mother for the summer, was expertly folding fat-quarters of colorful fabric bedecked with lobsters, lighthouses, snowshoes, ducks, moose, canoes, fish, and other icons of the Pine Tree State. A quilt cruise ship would soon be docking in the harbor, and its passengers would be winding their way up the hill through the charming village to sample Nessa’s wares.
“We’re just a 500-bolt shop, but we’re the only place on the island to get thread,” said Nessa. “Although we have a faithful local clientele, we depend on vacationers to make ends meet.” For a small quilt store on an island, something like the arrival of a quilt cruise can have a big impact on the bottom line.
A quilt cruise doesn’t sail into the harbor everyday, however, and like most shop owners, Nessa is always looking to find other ways to attract customers. This was Fabricate’s first year to participate in a collective marketing strategy common to many independent quilt stores all across the United States: the quilt shop hop. From Washington to Maine and most places in between, the shop hop has become a dependable means of drawing customers into stores.
Over the past seven years, for example, quilt stores throughout the state of Maine have banded together to host a month-long shop-a-thon featuring prizes, logo charms, commemorative patterns, and special activities.
Shoppers are issued a “passport” listing all of the participating shops, and when a shop is visited, the passport is stamped. Rewards increase based on the number of shops visited, and a full passport earns one chance to win a grand prize.
Other states, regions, or cities with multiple quilt stores follow a similar blueprint. Some shop hops even produce original fabrics, or provide free patterns on a theme, with an option to purchase preassembled fabric kits for the pattern at each stop.
Other activities include scavenger hunts, door prizes, free fabrics, live music, and refreshments. In today’s economy, shop owners can use all the help they can get. And so can quilters, who are able to take advantage of special deals. Shop hops set up a win-win scenario.
“The shop hop was great for us,” said Nessa. “We were the furthest east participating shop in the state and we had over 300 visitors. It served to introduce us to Mainers who might not have otherwise known we were here.”
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Column 149: Rosie’s Redwork
Column 148: The Quilt of Belonging
Column 147: Kanthas—The Quilts of Bangladesh
Column 146: Patterns
Column 145: Suzy on Carolyn Mazloomi's Groundbreaking Quilt Exhibit
Column 144: Texas Community Marks Juneteenth Sesquicentennial with History Quilts
Column 143: Maya Embroidered Patchwork
Column 142: Huipil Patchwork Quilts
Column 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
See other archived columns here