Few businesses have interiors adorned with colorful quilts featuring butterflies, flowers, an ABC map, or the St. Joseph Lighthouse along the Great Lakes.
There’s a reason the Creative Sewing & Quilting brand in Geneva advertises the store as “Your Happy Quilt Place”. For 25 years, the store at 11 N. First St. has been that and more for the vast majority of customers who come to buy fabric, upgrade sewing machines, or take classes to learn the art form that is the quilt.
– Brian Hill | Personal photographer
“In the sewing world, the quilt part is by far the biggest part of the cake,” said Lisa Flyte, owner of Creative Sewing & Quilting. “You have seamstresses or interior designers, or some who just fix things.”
But creating a colorful quilt as a wall hanging, bedspread, baby quilt or sentimental gift is the most popular project, Flyte said.
“People who sew today and come to our store are those who have the time in their lives to do so, as an empty nest or just retired,” Flyte added. “And they have the financial capacity to do so.”
Some customers sew up to four to six hours a day because it brings them joy, Flyte noted. But that joy can go south if they don’t have a good machine.
“If you have a crummy tool, it becomes difficult and annoying, and it’s not fun,” she added.
The range of impressive machines and fabrics in the 4,000 square foot store is why Creative Sewing & Quilting becomes a hive of activity every day. Customers take lessons or stop by to ask Flyte and her children all kinds of questions about their plans for the family business.
– Brian Hill | Personal photographer
“Now you can buy the machine you really love, and you get this awesome tool, and you really love sitting down to sew,” Flyte said. “It’s not my grandmother’s machine because it’s not what I’m selling today.”
Flyte admitted she still had her grandmother’s machine and had sewn with it in the past, but “it’s not the tool I would use now.”
Among other sessions, Flyte is running a “Block of the Month” quilt project for participants who create a different part, or block, of a quilt over six months or more.
“We focus on each block to learn the skills needed to complete it successfully,” Flyte said. “They learn new techniques and gain the confidence to do it.”
Flyte has noticed an increase in business during the pandemic, saying many people have taken up hobbies, and more women have taken up sewing.
– Brian Hill | Personal photographer
“We’ve seen a huge increase in sewage,” she noted. “People were at home and had time to do it.” At 60, Flyte spent a lot of time “doing”, long before opening the Geneva store in May 1997 with her late husband Joe, who died in 2015. The second generation of Flytes – Grant, Eric and Sarah — joined the family business at this time.
Flyte had a love for sewing from the age of 10 and eventually worked in a sewing shop in her hometown of Sandwich during her high school and college years. She tried the business world after graduating from college in 1984, but when the opportunity to buy this sewing shop came up in May 1987, she and her husband bought it.
After operating stores in Sandwich and Sycamore for a while, they expanded their efforts to a store on the east side of St. Charles and another in Warrenville. Eventually they moved to Geneva, closed the other operations and focused on the single store. Thus, the month of May is designated as the celebration of the 25th anniversary.
“It’s a unique niche business, that’s for sure,” Flyte said. “About 2-3% of a standard population would be considered sewing people and would be interested in entering our store. But, overall, there’s enough to keep us in business.”
A summer of pop-ups
If retail businesses continue to struggle with supply chain and labor issues, it could turn out that many of our physical locations will be filled with small businesses using the empty storefronts for a few months. at a time. It’s called a pop-up business, and we’re seeing these types of places become more mainstream.
Batavia Boardwalk stores operate under this concept during the summer months. It gives area residents a place to simultaneously visit and offers store owners a chance to gain a foothold and possibly set up shop in a downtown Batavia storefront in the future.
This year, Batavia Boardwalk Shops will present Arlo.Hendrix Baby Outfitters, The Candy Stop, Charcuterie Studio, Dirty Clay Co., Earth Knots, Fox Valley Gallery of Wood, Hazelry, Magnolia Soap and Bath, Wonder & Wander and Wild West Baked Goods during of its opening on Friday, May 20.
Additionally, the Geneva Commons Shopping Center recently held its first “Uncommon Collective” competition for small businesses to win a storefront space in the Commons, as well as cash prizes to help open and design their stores.
Originally planned to reward two winners, the judges expanded the competition to five new companies winning places. The judges were so impressed with the contestants that they couldn’t choose just two.
The winning stores – Bread.Geneva, Swish Avenue, Twee Partees, Salt & Wilde and Glow With Flo – will be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
It would be nice to wander into a meeting where officials from the state treasurer’s office would reveal that property or funds worth millions of dollars in my name had not been claimed.
These things probably happen to someone. After all, about five years ago, my mother was informed of a bank account that my father, who died in 2006, had hidden somewhere. She had no idea and ended up with what seemed like a “prize” of $25,000 at the time.
You won’t know anything about unclaimed property unless you learn the ropes. And that’s what State Senator Don DeWitte has in mind when he hosts “Unclaimed Property Day” from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 at the St. Charles Public Library, 1 S. Sixth Ave.
DeWitte and a representative from the Office of Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerich will be available to help people figure out if they owe money and how to file a claim.
Registration is not required for the event, but it is recommended to visit SenatorDeWitte.com/events.
At peace with the dirt
If someone had predicted that I would learn to love gardening in retirement, I would have dismissed such a ridiculous idea as predicting that the Bears would win the Super Bowl next year.
However, strange things happen when your mind is clear of deadlines and daily meetings, interviews and planning. These tasks were taking up the majority of my days before I retired from my full-time job at the end of last year. Also, I worked most weekends on athletic rhythm in my youth.
It turns out that working in our yard is relaxing. Your mind may wander while doing so, but it’s not cluttered with worries about work or nonsense like the silly things a politician or former president might say.
Now, working in my wife’s yard, estate and strength over the past decades is viewed with much more interest and a willingness to participate from yours truly.
While digging dirt at my son’s house, our almost 2 year old granddaughter wanted to help. She joined, and as a result, I became “Grandpa Dirt” in her mind.
Yes, I’m late to this game at 69. This is when most would be “hired” for such work. But I’m happy to report that I helped mark our planting bends and shoveled and moved about four meters of mulch in one day. On other days, my wife and I spilled over 60 bags.
Turns out my wife and I are pretty good at these tasks. A neighbor my age, noticing that I was spreading dirt by hand, jokingly asked me if I could tuck in his beds too.
He said he would do it himself, but “I could never get up if I was on the ground like that.” So far, I can still get up off the ground quite easily. I guess that lends more credence to any predictions about the sudden enjoyment of working in the garden.