Monday, July 9, 2012

Mank Avenue

When you head out on a 'driving vacation,' do you tend to go straight from point A to point B, or do you meander a little?

Does your meandering happen by chance - all spontaneous-like - or do you formulate a plan? Do you have a mission? A quest?

Hey! You can have a meandering quest....don't look at me that way.

Jean had wanted to go visit one of her siblings in Traverse City (hi, Annie), and as it so happens, people quilt in that neck of the woods! Who knew?! So, being a good friend (and a wonderful enabler) she mapped out a dotted line from home to TC, then we hit the road bright and early Friday morning, connecting the 'dots' along the way.

We re-visited Material Mart in Midland - which we stopped into last year on a fluke (during their sidewalk sale) - and had fun kicking the trip off with one more little quilt shop (Park Bench Quilt Shop) in Midland before truly heading north.

Material Mart is a fairly good-sized shop, layed out with enough room for looking and maneuvering through their reported 3,000+ bolts of cotton (and other items). It is a pretty decent place to get your 'quilt on.' Plus, the staff is friendly and attentive! Make certain to ask for their version of the frequent buyers card - as I said, we were there last year and nobody mentioned it to us as we cashed out.

This year we made it a point to ask for each shops' version of a buyers card!

Park Bench was our second quilt shop stop along the journey, and it was tiny. She had maybe a few hundred bolts of material, but it was all quality cotton. Some of it I recognized from perusing manufacturers websites (while dreaming and searching online).

There was a wonderful collection of Kaffe Fassett, if you are in to super mod and bright, bright (sometimes strangely mixed) colors. But, by-and-large, her collection throughout had a more modern feel overall - very little to no 'calico' as your mom would see it.

It is a fun, hip, bright little store, but with a very limited assortment (in terms of volume/assortment). Still, if you're in the area, by all means stop in for a visit!

Back on the road, still heading north and west, we found ourselves in Cadillac. After a little searching (and a telephone call) we finally found Julie Ann Fabrics - behind the businesses on north Mitchell (with the even-numbered shops), sort of from an alley side and the parking in the rear.

Their 'website' is nothing much to speak of (no inventory, no photos, just a handful of their machines for sale), so you really have to head in to town if you want to see what they stock. For a small town, if you are in a pinch for some material in a 'New York minute' and there isn't a chain store within 30 miles, I suppose it would do nicely. They have an assortment of the perfunctory materials, solids, calico's, a little of this and a little of that, some reproductions and the like, but it didn't knock my socks off. The selection of stencils doesn't live up to it's hype, but if you aren't picky, I suppose....

Hey, you always have mail order through the internet at many really well-stocked vendors.

Their staff on hand was nice enough, but the young woman behind the counter for my transaction was on-again-off-again in her friendliness. And keep in mind you need to look at your handwritten receipt BEFORE YOU WALK AWAY - especially if you pay by credit card. I only saw my printed receipt at the time of the purchase and didn't get a look at the handwritten bill (which had been tucked into the bulk of my odd purchases) until I unpacked all of my bags at home. My clerk arbitrarily added a few extra dollars to the totaled sub-total, and then added the tax - but this I didn't discover until Monday morning! What a riot!

On our first full day in TC, we headed to the last of the two shops Jean had found in the area, the first being InterQuilten in Interlochen, MI.

Yes, it was another tiny shop, but not as small as it looked. They used every square inch of space to their advantage, and from the looks of it, their time in business has been well spent, too. It was perhaps the most shopped place we visited this trip - crowded with some new visitors and LOTS of repeat customers from the sounds of the conversations going on. For a small quilt store on the perimeter of the northern lower fringes, they were a nice place to visit! Definitely worth the visit, so go, they have a lot to offer in the way of lovely, quality cottons and so many ideas and neat projects to view.

The last shop on the list was actually going out of business! The Liberty Bell Quilt Shop in Cedar, MI, is no more.

We arrived at their door on their very. last. day. of business for them, and they were picked clean; although, we each managed to walk out with a little bit of something (despite the fact their shelves were about as bare as bare could be). I aquired a couple of scrap bags, two fat quarters, some heat resistant applique template plastic (for a STEAL), a stand for my quilting rulers (another steal), a larger quilting/embroidery hoop (for 50 cents), some lovely hand-dyed pearl cotton (not enough, but hey...); a veritable mish-mosh of fun stuff. But we were just too late to go shopping there.

Wish I could've purchased their old counter - it was large and lovely and perfect for cutting material (with bunches of storage). It was for sale, but there was just no way to pay for it or to get it home. Ha!

Anyhow, for what it's worth, I give you my opinion on four quilt shops in the mid-Michigan to upper LP (Traverse City) area. Hope you had a great weekend.

No comments: