Longtime GJ fabric store sews up quilting trade
Whitney Bonner waited in line at Hi Fashion Fabrics on Tuesday with a holiday plan in hand.
That plan took the form of a freshly cut, folded, light-brown-and-green, bird-patterned flannel.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been here,” Bonner said. “I’m going to make a blanket for Christmas for someone. I’ve driven past this place a lot, but had never been in until now.”
The 22-year-old Mesa State College student who just moved to Grand Junction from Utah was greeted by the store’s 46th anniversary sale in which everything is 25 percent off. The sale lasts through Saturday.
The store has changed with the times, owners say, to keep a competitive advantage in a city that sewing aficionados call a quilting hot spot.
Judy Andrews, 65, who was stopping by Hi Fashion Fabrics on Wednesday, said it’s not the only shop in town.
There’s also a Quilter’s Corner and JoAnn Fabrics store in Grand Junction.
“This is just a mecca for quilters,” she said.
Andrews said Hi Fashion Fabrics’ standout feature is its large selection of fabrics.
Owner Jeff Vogel’s parents, Don and Arlene Vogel, started the store, which is now at 2586 Patterson Road, at 558 Main St.
“They’d bring boxes of sweaters and goods home, take them out of plastic and put them on a hanger, and would give us a penny apiece for hanging them,” Jeff Vogel said. “Some nights, we could make 50 cents.
Growing up, we always worked summers for dad.”
The store has since moved to First Street and Orchard Avenue. Its move to Patterson Road in 1993 doubled the store’s square footage to 12,000.
He said he keeps a sharp eye on the changes in the fashion and craft market.
“We’re seeing more quilting than fashion goods,” he said. “People aren’t sewing clothes anymore, but they sure have a lot of crafts and quilting things to do. In the last five years, there’s been a change from bridal sewing and bridal party projects. We don’t sell hardly any of that anymore with the David’s Bridal and the big box stores doing that. People will sew a blanket or make a quilt for a gift. ”
The store further differentiated two years ago by rolling in the latest line of Bernina sewing machines, a brand that has been around for 76 years, and adding classes to its schedule of quilting and sewing education, he said.
Business boosted from that move by 20 to 25 percent. “It’s brought a whole new line of sewers in. The Bernina brand has good training,” he said.
Vogel said he credits his knowledgable staff for the store’s longevity.
Patterns at the store fall into categories such as “Food, Wine & Coffee,” and “Animal Prints & Music.” Large buckets of multicolored buttons await customers with a sign that says “$2 per level Dixie cup scoop.”
Mayumi Brill, 48, doesn’t consider herself a “sewer,” per se, but said she was visiting that day for “the little things,” like repairing clothes.
“I’m not a big sewer,” Brill said, “but I was teaching my daughter how to sew, and we did a skirt project. They have a big inventory for sewing projects.”