15 Craft Stores Unite for ‘Shop Hop’ Quilt

Experienced quilters and newbie crafters flocked to the sewing shops on Saturday for the final day of the Snowflake and Stitches Shop Hop.

The event challenged attendees to embark on a mini road trip through the Portland and Salem metro areas and visit 15 quilt shops from February 6 through February 20.

Each boutique offered customers a free fabric block to assemble a keepsake quilt, a stamp on their boutique passport, and a chance to win craft-related prizes. Event coordinator Deb Messina estimated that around 450 to 500 buyers attended the February jump.

“Quilter’s love of being inspired – if we do a great job of giving them something they’re excited about – they come and they bring their friends,” Messina said.

The Bernina/Stretch and Sew Fabrics store at 5089 River Road N in Keizer had only been open for an hour, and it was already turning out to be a busy Saturday.

Customers streamed in one by one, the doorbell ringing with every swing. Six women showed up, passports in hand.

“This is our fourth stop today,” said Barbara Gallagher of Monroe, Washington.

She and her friends traveled about four hours from the Seattle area for shopping. The group started in Vancouver, Washington, and traveled to the independent quilt shops listed on their passports. They hit the easternmost stores on Friday and were making their way into the western section on Saturday.

“You could say we’re all pretty addicted to quilting,” said Connie Berner of Snohomish, Washington.

Store worker Sue VanCleave measured and cut the blocks for the group as they browsed the sewing equipment and fabric bolts. She discussed with them the next stops on their routes and stamped their passports.

Participants with full passports could enter to win multiple prizes, ranging from gift certificates to a tote bag containing $300 worth of “quilting treasures” to a grand prize of a three-night quilting retreat at Patchwork Acres in North Plains, Oregon. Individual stores also offered a draw for a $25 gift card.

Gaston resident Ellen Green heard about the shop from a friend and was working on making a quilt from her collected fabric blocks. Each store also offered a unique project to be made using the custom fabric block. Bernina / Stretch and Sew Fabrics has designed a multi-use potholder.

“It’s fun,” she said. “Each store has a different flavor.”

The group of six and Green leaked as shop owner Judy Craig’s class came to an end.

“Last Saturday we had 97 people here,” Craig said. “They’re from the coast, from Bend, from eastern Oregon and southwest Washington. We even have some from California. It’s not just people from Salem or Portland. They’re from everywhere.”

Not everyone who visits during the event buys something, Craig said. While it had nearly 100 participants on February 13, it recorded 30 transactions. She sets up sales and discounts, but she said the event is more than just a gimmick to attract more customers.

“It’s unique because it’s part social, part educational, and part utilitarian,” she said.

Craig said new customers are introduced to the 44-year-old store and relationships are formed.

“The local quilt store is going to give you quality, personalized attention,” said customer Candi Hampton from Lyon. “They give you tips and tricks.”

Hampton has been sewing since she received a crank singer when she was 8 years old, and she makes sure to bring quilting novices to the event to familiarize them with shop owners and quilting techniques.

“This is the third shopping we’ve done, and we just love them,” she said. “We plan our vacation around them.”

The event ended on Saturday, but the Sunshine and Stitches Shop Hop will return in June. Information is available at www.stitchesshophop.com.

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