Everything sewn: the last cross-stitch art shop in town is closing its doors; the owner cannot find a buyer and wants to retire



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This article has been published 12/29/2017 (1359 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.

Cross stitch art is where you fill a perforated canvas with tens of thousands of microscopic squares by sewing an X with dyed fabric into each square.

After days, months and in some cases years of cross stitching, you step back and find that every little x of fabric has formed a pointillist type paint, but cotton instead of acrylic.

If you learn this now, it is too late. Winnipeg’s last cross-stitch shop, where there used to be four, is closing.

Sheena’s Gallery, after 25 years serving the cross-stitch and other sewing craft market, will close at the end of the year.

“I had a mister, he gave me a big hug and had to leave because he choked,” said owner Sheena Buckner.

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, customer Judy Paquette became cranky when reminded that her favorite hobby store is not long for this world.

“I’m really annoyed by all of this,” said Paquette, visiting the brick and mortar store on St. Mary’s Road for the last time perhaps. “It’s a big, huge hole.”

Paquette is part of the league of embroiderers obsessed with benevolence. A typical cross stitch canvas takes about four months to complete, but many can easily take a year. There is a male customer who is doing a cross stitch on a painting of an English countryside which will require 614,600 stitches in 70 colors. He estimates that at his daily sewing pace, it will take six years to complete.

The cross stitch used to be much bigger. Eaton and The Bay department stores in downtown Winnipeg would dedicate large sections to cross stitch and other embroidery art. The Bay was redeeming the art of cross stitching from people so that customers could see what a finished design looked like.

It was a good deal for the department store as it took so long to sew the designs. Some of the most popular models were created by Winnipeg designer Jean McIntosh. Sheena’s gallery still has a few of her models left.

Other stores serving the cross stitch market in the recent past were Petit Point Gallery on Provencher, Stitch and Frame in Transcona and Mrs. Twitchett’s on Pembina Highway.

Today there is no cross stitch workshop in Ottawa, Toronto or Saskatchewan. There is one outside of Calgary and there are still a couple left in Ontario.

Sheena’s gallery may be gone soon, but owner Sheena Buckner (above) won’t be forgotten anytime soon – she has nearly 250 email addresses from clients who want to stay in touch after she closes the doors for good.


Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press

Sheena’s gallery may be gone soon, but owner Sheena Buckner (above) won’t be forgotten anytime soon – she has nearly 250 email addresses of clients who want to keep in touch after closing the doors for good. .

Needlework appears to have taken on other successes recently, with Ram Wools Yarn Co-op and Mitchell Fabrics shutting down in 2017.

Sheena’s Gallery is shutting down not because her business is not viable, but because no one wants to own it and she wants to retire.

Buckner, who hasn’t lost her Scottish accent even though she immigrated here when she was 18 and is now 67, said the problem was not the lack of customers but the low margins. The profit margin is only double, compared to triple in many other retail sectors.

It’s a testament to her friendly shopkeeper personality that Buckner, who one customer described as “very bubbly”, has nearly 250 customer email addresses who want to stay in touch and find other outlets for. support their cross stitch obsessions. They wrote their emails on lined paper left on the counter.

They will now have to order online, but a lot of people like to feel the textures and see the colors in person. Buckner tries to convince Needlepoint Place on Osborne Street, the last remaining needlepoint art store, to take some of its stock.

Buckner had to stop the interviewer several times to imply that needlework is a female hobby. “A lot of men sew,” she corrected. Besides Rosey Grier? “I would say 40% of my clients are men,” she said.

“They do cross stitch because they don’t want to work with wood in the winter. You want to keep your hands occupied. You don’t want to smoke, you don’t want to drink.”

She won’t believe the idea that the internet has hollowed out the hobby like many other industries. She thinks it’s just that no one wants to run a store.

In fact, a new trend in the hobby is called “subversive” cross stitch. Buckner said she had framed cross stitch designs that read “Don’t smoke weed in the bathroom” and “F # $! This house”.

Sheena’s Gallery is also a picture framing store and some of its picture frames on display are more beautiful than the pictures they contain. It has handcrafted frames, over a century old, with a golden filigree border, which are worth up to $ 2,000. The store is in a former suburban bank, and Buckner has plenty of cotton artwork in its steel vault.

For the final sale, the stock was reduced by 30 percent and was expected to drop to 40 to 50 percent on Boxing Day.

For her, it’s just time to quit running the store six days a week with no sick days, vacation or retirement benefits. Her husband has been retired for 10 years already.

“He continues to see trips where if you go out the next morning it’s a quarter of the price, and we like it like that. We’re spontaneous.”

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