Handmade: Textiles Fabric Shop participates in '3-Stop Hop'
Textiles Fabric Shop had been in business only about 17 months when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, affecting everyone in its path one way or another.
Prior to the sudden health crisis, business was good for the downtown Milan shop at 20 E. Main. "Actually, we were busy before because we had just gotten into our rhythm," said Donna Bloxam of Tecumseh, who co-owns the business with her daughter Jacqui Macfarlane.
Like many businesses, they had to close their doors to in-store customers. But, unlike many, their small business continued to prosper because they sold the items that had suddenly become a hot commodity -- cotton fabric and elastic.
Home sewers everywhere fired up their sewing machines and jumped on board to produce face masks, filling the overwhelming need for personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by healthcare workers. Hospitals everywhere were experiencing a critical shortage of PPE.
"Jacqui developed a website the second week after quarantine, and we would deliver curbside as far as Saline, which is about 25 miles from here," said Bloxam. "We mailed orders, as well. We had orders from California, Washington State, North Carolina and Oregon. Our website was crazy busy! We offered 100 percent cotton and we had 1/4-inch elastic. We sold probably about 6,000 yards of elastic. We also had interfacing."
Bloxam noted, "We had a lot of people we had gotten to know, and they supported our store because they wanted us to make it." While closed, they also did pickup and porch drop-offs.
The mother-daughter sewing enthusiasts had dreamed of someday opening a fabric shop. Bloxam got hooked on sewing around age 5 or 6 when she spent summers with her grandmother. "She would let me use her old cast-iron Singer sewing machine." Years later she became an avid quilter.
Macfarlane, on the other hand, took a few sewing classes before moving away from home. She received a sewing machine as one of her graduation gifts but never did any sewing. She later "started a fabric stash without a lot of abilities," and like her mom became a quilter.
About opening the shop, she said, "I kept asking my mom where was the closest fabric store and she said the closest one was in Saline or Tecusemch. Milan is an area with a lot of quilters and sewers, so it surprised me that no one had opened a fabric store."
Bloxam said, "When we first looked at the property, it was a storage area for other businesses that were being remodeled, but we just fell in love with it because it was right here on Main street, and I wanted to bring my business to Milan where I grew up."
Just 30 days later, and with about 90 bolts of fabric, "which isn't very much," they opened the doors to their 890 square-foot fabric shop inside a newly-renovated "historical store front," next door to Plum Tree Yarn Shop.
On July 25, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Textiles Fabric Shop will take part in the "3-Stop Hop," a Christmas in July Makers Festival, featuring trunk shows, kits, discounts, prizes and more. The event is geared toward both fabric and yarn enthusiasts.
Bloxam said, "We were invited to be part of the 3-Stop Hop by Jen (Hofer) of Plum Tree Yarn Shop."
Also participating will be Ann's by Design in Adrian, and Lake Erie Mercantile in Monroe. Passports will be sold for $5 each at all participating shops before and on the day of the event.
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Textiles Fabric Shop (20 E. Main, Milan) at (734) 508-6794 or on Facebook. Email: email@example.com.