Last week, I was on vacation. It was glorious and wonderful. I enjoyed every single minute. It was heaven! But we didn’t go to Hawaii or Vegas, or Europe. Nope, we stayed home. And I loved it.
I had all these plans – visit a dozen quilt shops, clean out and organize my closet, clean out the pantry, get ahead on homework … the list was practically endless. And of all the things I had planned, I got exactly two accomplished – I visited several quilt shops, and I did some photography. I didn’t think about the gameroom I want to paint before the holiday season begins, and cleaning the closet out only flitted through the transom of my mind briefly. I did get quite a bit of laundry done, though, and Chris and I drove halfway around Texas on Wednesday. I am completely and totally non-apologetic about those things I didn’t accomplish, though. For my money, enjoying the time off, spending it with my family and being able to relax completely far outweigh the benefits of cleaning out the pantry. And most of the stuff I didn’t get done this time around can be accomplished over weekends.
One of the things that we did that I enjoyed the most was the drive we took on Wednesday. Around the first part of September, I went to my local quilt shop, QuiltWorks and found out that there is a statewide shop hop going on for the entire month of September. I didn’t know it, but this shop hop actually takes place every September. This year it involves nearly 100 shops around Texas, all of whom are selling Quilt Across Texas fabric. Yes, I have bought a fair amount of it, and I plan to make a quilt using it. 🙂
So far, my favorite store has been Quilter’s Crossing in Tomball. It’s a smaller shop, but I really like the fabric they carry, and the people were warm and friendly. Since it’s not too far from me, I will be visiting them regularly. I really like the selection of pre-cut fabrics they carry – lately I am a HUGE fan of pre-cuts, because it seriously cuts down on the time I have to spend cutting strips. The colors in the store were bright and vivid, and fit very well with my usual quilting style.
I also liked the Hen House in Spring. It’s a decent sized shop, and while I wasn’t crazy about all the fabrics they had (the shop stock seems to gravitate toward darker, more primitive type fabrics like Civil War reproductions), it is still a nice shop and had some beautiful quilts on the walls. They also sell yarn, so knitters and crocheters will enjoy this store as well.
My least favorite store so far has been the Quilter’s Quarters in Conroe. It was a bit of a disappointment after driving so far. It isn’t a large shop, and the woman hovered over us as if we were going to steal something. There’s a difference between good customer service and hovering. These folks need to learn the difference. The woman followed us around and made me feel so uncomfortable I gave up looking after a very short period of time. I only wanted to get a couple of fat quarters, which totalled less than $7, and they were very reluctant to take my debit card for less than $10. I wouldn’t budge, so eventually they accepted it and I made my purchase and left. If I would have had cash on me, I would have used it, but I only had a couple of dollars. It irritated me a bit that it was even an issue. But the biggest issue here was the hovering. I hate hovering shop keepers. Ugh.
But other shops were lovely. Honey Bee Quilt Store in Austin was great; the shop is beautiful and the people there are so nice. It’s not convenient for me to go there often, but when I’m up that way I will make a point of stopping in. They had beautiful quilts hanging on their walls, and they were one of the featured shops in the Spring Summer 2012 issue of Quilt Sampler. I received a free copy of the magazine when I won the scratch off game that’s part of the shop hop – by far the best prize I have received so far (other prizes I’ve won are a cheap seam ripper and some acid free tissue paper). I would highly recommend this shop for anyone in the Austin area – just wonderful!
On Wednesday, our final stop of the day was in Buda at B&B Quilting & Gifts. The square footage of the shop is small, but it is absolutely packed with beautiful fabrics from floor to ceiling. The staff there is so friendly and nice, and I really loved the displays they have for their fabrics – everything was so easy to see! This is another shop that when I’m in the area, I will stop by and browse. It was a little difficult to find, but I was really glad we took the time to stop by.
In almost every shop, I encountered shop hoppers like me, who were making the rounds and checking out new shops. Quilters can be some of the nicest people you will ever encounter, and my experience this week didn’t change my mind about that. What impressed me most in almost all the shops was how willing the people working there were to take the time to answer questions, help with fabric selection or just chat. Quilt shops always remind me that the best stores are those that are not corporate bound, big box chain stores with impersonal cashiers and faceless CEO’s. The best customer service comes at those places where they know that one unhappy customer can be dangerous to their shop’s health, and as such, are willing to make each customer feel like they are the most important customer in the world. It’s that sort of customer service that brings me back to a store every single time. And so far, I’ve found several quilt shops that make me feel just like that – the most important customer in the world. And they have earned my business for years to come.