Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quilt shop bustling after top 10 ranking

October 12, 2006

Jerry Stube says pictures just don't suffice for quilters. They like to touch what they see.

If that notion holds true, Leavenworth County could soon experience a boost in tourism.

Better Homes and Gardens' Quilt Sampler magazine for fall and winter 2006 named Stube's quilting shop, Quilter's Quarters, one of its "top ten" quilting shops in the United States and Canada.

Since the honor was announced in August, Stube said, the response has been overwhelming at the shop, 205 Delaware St., Leavenworth.

"Business has been a little crazy," Stube said. "When you get selected as one of the top 10 shops, it just kind of runs you through the wringer."

But Stube isn't complaining. Even though she said she'd been vying for the distinction for a number of years, she still was surprised.

"It knocked my socks off," Stube said. "I had no idea what it was going to do to us."

Twice a year, the magazine's editors select 10 shops for the honor. The nearly yearlong selection process includes a written application, customer input, secret shopping and a quilt design submission.

Stube said, in all, four Kansas City metro shops had been chosen since the list's debut in 1995.

Prairie Point Quilts, Shawnee, also made the latest list.

TOURIST ATTRACTION

The magazine offers readers a glimpse inside each shop's past and present with a story and full-color photos of its products, samples and staff. It also includes a quilt designed by the shop's staff and a list of "hot spots" to visit in the area.

A month before the magazine's release, four women from California flew in to see Stube's 4,500-square-foot shop for themselves. And she's already helped a group of women from Nebraska plan a bus tour to the area in April.

She said the orders for quilting kits and fabric have been pouring in.

"Our business in the last month has been up almost 35 percent, and it's just because of this," Stube said. "The thing that I like about it is that it's going to bring more business to town.

"That's good for the community and that's important for me."

Sisters Elizabeth Dunn, of Harlan, Iowa, and Marie Ritter, of Claremont, Calif., drove Sept. 29 to Leavenworth after they purchased Quilt Sampler magazine at a quilt shop in Missouri.

The ladies decided to make the trek to Shawnee and Leavenworth at the spur of the moment - without a road map.

"It's been worthwhile coming," said Ritter. "I take a picture of every shop I go to. I've got an album of more than 200 shops."

Dunn said she was most impressed with the shop's beauty and the variety of quilt samples and fabrics on display.

"It's in an old warehouse, and obviously they've done a lot of renovations. The exterior is just beautiful," she said.

CAREER CHANGE

Stube handled complaints in Army hospitals as a civilian employee for 25 years.

In 1996, the Lansing resident learned she had stomach cancer.

"I decided life is short. I want to do something that I want to do - I'm through with this. I'm going to go do something else," Stube said.

She opened Quilter's Quarters in a small 600-square-foot shop on South Fifth Street with just 300 bolts of fabric. She continued to work for the government while a friend managed the shop.

Right after Strube's cancer surgery, she learned her mom also had cancer. Soon after, her sister's breast cancer returned.

"After my sister passed away, that's when I decided that I was doing too much and decided that I would go to the shop full time," she said. "I was very blessed to have survived it."

On Thanksgiving weekend, the shop will celebrate its 10th anniversary - in a much larger space with an ever-changing inventory of between 2,000 and 2,500 colorful bolts of fabric.

QUILTING FOR CURES

More than half of Stube's eight staff members have survived cancer. Throughout the year, the women participate in activities to benefit cancer patients and research, with much of their efforts focused on breast cancer.

"Breast cancer is an issue because it's predominantly a woman's disease and this is basically a woman's sport - even though we do have a lot of men that do it," Stube said. "We're going to quilt it away."

During the past decade, Quilter's Quarters has raised more than $10,000 for local breast cancer patients affiliated with Saint Vincent Clinic and Share the Hope.

On Sept. 30, Quilter's Quarters joined quilt shops across the nation in Quilt Pink Day. Shop staff pieced together dozens of pink and white quilt blocks made by themselves and their customers.

When they were finished, they had seven quilts that will be auctioned off online to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

A quilter since 1972, Stube said quilting offered its own healing power, especially to those who need a respite.

"It lowers your blood pressure. It's a stress reliever. You start quilting and you kind of forget all that stuff out there," she said.

COMMUNICATION THROUGH QUILTS

Stube's love for quilting began with her mother and grandmother. After Stube married in 1972 - her husband's name is Jack - she started quilting.

Through the years, it's become a way to make connections with others.

"It's such a good way for women to sit and be together. Our mothers and our grandmothers talked over the back fence when they were hanging out clothes. We don't do that," she said.

The exposure from Quilt Sampler has helped Stube reconnect with old friends she hasn't seen in decades.

"I've gotten e-mails from a number of people that we knew years and years ago in the military : people we haven't had touch with for 20 or 30 years. It's just really exciting," Stube said.

One of the best parts of owning a quilt shop, Stube said, is developing friendships with her staff, all of whom she's hired from within her customer base.

"You'll never get rich owning a quilt shop. You don't go into it for that. It's just a joy. I can't imagine not ever doing this."

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