Thanks to everyone who has sent us stories about new quilt shops. Keep them coming! Here are two more to read. We look forward to welcoming both shops to Row by Row Experience this summer.

The Sparkly Elephant Sewing Lounge, Friendswood, Texas
A fun name, classes and so much more!

Andria Niles opened The Sparkly Elephant Sewing Lounge after doing embroidery in her home for several years. She wanted a place to teach classes, have events and sell fun and modern quilting fabrics and products. Her goal is to provide a fun and welcoming place for people to visit and be crafty! In addition to sewing classes, the shop offers calligraphy classes, embroidery classes and ladies nights. She started a chapter of the modern quilt guild that meets monthly in the shop. The Sparkly Elephant hosts a monthly Sew-In day for Angel Gowns by Diane, making burial gowns from wedding gowns for babies who have passed away at or before birth. Andria loves modern fabrics and quilting and has created a space to reflect those loves. She is really trying to reach out to younger sewists and quilters, since sewing is often no longer taught in schools.

Andria says, “I have truly enjoyed having a shop and meeting so many new people! The sewing community is filled with so many friendly, creative and inspiring people, and I love having the opportunity to welcome them into my space!”

Prairie Pride Quilts, Madelia, Minnesota
From gas station to quilt shop!

On Susan Wilkinson’s birthday, her husband said he had a surprise for her and they went for a drive. She was surprised when they pulled up to a former gas station, turned scrap trading building, with everything from piles of scrap metal to old vehicles and a soda vending machine sitting outside! However, her husband was just beaming and grinning from ear to ear.

As she tells the story,  “He leaned over to kiss my cheek and exclaim, ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY!’ I was flabbergasted. It was an old GAS STATION (filled with stuff) for my BIRTHDAY! What was I to do with this? ‘Don’t you just love it?’ he asked. I still didn’t know what to say. Then he exclaimed, ‘It’s your quilt shop!’ I hopped out and we went inside. I started to see his vision.”

As they walked through the building, Susan started making plans. The two service bays would make an excellent showroom for fabrics, notions, and sewing machines, once the junk was cleared out and some drywall, carpeting, and good lighting were installed. The car wash would be perfect for the classroom and the checkout/miniconvenience store area would be a great area for an office and employee break room. The bathroom was the original from when the gas station was built back in 1921, so that, too, would need some work. Susan began to see the vision and became so very excited and humbled that her husband should think to buy a gas station for her birthday! Not a present every girl dreamed of getting, but for her, it was perfect.

Back in 2017, the couple set a goal to open a quilt shop in January of 2020. But in April of 2018, the gas station gift came along, so they got to work converting the building in June. It was a family affair, as their son and his wife served as the labor for all the demolition and construction. All summer long the local residents stopped in to introduce themselves, offer help, and well wishes. They scheduled the opening of Prairie Pride Quilts on October 10, 2018. It was a very special day that arrived a year and a half ahead of schedule, but with the active support and love of her husband, Susan’s gas station birthday present turned into the dream she had been working towards for several years!

Janet Lutz is the owner of Row by Row Experience and Calico Gals quilt shop in Syracuse, New York. She is passionate about creative business, entrepreneurship and making stuff!