At a time when the owner of Island Quilter was thinking of moving her store off-Island to increase business, she won a much coveted-award in the quilting world: Her shop will be featured in the fall issue of Quilt Sampler magazine, published by Better Homes and Gardens.
It is exciting news for store owner Anja Shive Moritz, who has owned the business since 2007. “This was one of my goals,” she said.
Competition to be included in the publication is stiff, with several hundred stores from across the country vying for a spot, according to Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, a senior editor for the magazine. Each shop had to submit a lengthy application as well as an original quilt design that will be featured in a several page spread about each of the 11 stores chosen.
The person who contacted Moritz with the news likened the award to winning an Oscar, she said, and told her to be prepared for more business, including dedicated quilters who will visit each shop selected. Moritz is not convinced entire busloads of quilters will come, as the magazine suggested, but she will welcome them if they do. “I am not holding my breath, but it would be nice,” she said.
Moritz opened her store in her home on Thorsen Road and moved to her current location in February of 2009. The store has grown during that time and now boasts some 7,000 bolts of fabric — the largest selection of cotton fabric in the Seattle area, she said — as well as yarn, books, patterns, ribbon and sewing notions, including a vast array of buttons. But financially, these last years have not been easy, Moritz said.
“At times it is still quite disappointing,” she said. “If we would not have tourists, we would not be here any more.”
Indeed, said Paul Robinson, her partner and very much part of the fabric of the store, 70 percent of the shop’s business comes from off-Island traffic. “What keeps the lights on is people who come over and make a day of it,” he said.
One of the challenges many Island businesses face, Moritz and Robinson agreed, is Islanders’ presumption that Island merchandise is always more expensive than that purchased off Island. In fact, that is often not the case, Moritz said, and is not true at her store. She prices her fabrics 10 to 20 percent less than many off-Island shops while paying higher shipping costs to get the fabric here. She wants people to shop at her store, she stressed, even if it means reducing her profit margin.
One recent morning in the shop, after word had begun to travel about the award, some of the Island’s quilters came in to congratulate Moritz and Robinson.
Su DeWalt, a quilter for more than 30 years who also works for American Hero Quilts, stopped in and called the award much deserved.
“If you’ve been to other quilt shops, you know this one is far and above the others,” she said. It carries fabric by a wide variety of designers, she noted, and Moritz and Robinson are great help when quilters are stuck on projects, she said, whether it be pulling the perfect bolt of fabric off a shelf to complement a project or doing the math involved in the geometry of quilt making, something Mortiz attributes to their carpentry backgrounds. And fabric choices abound. “I have never seen a bigger selection,” DeWalt said.
Looking around the store at the rainbow-colored bolts of fabric, Mortiz said she knows the store is a good one, and she has more dreams in the works. Still, she and Robinson need about 30 percent more business to be comfortable — something they hope will come from this award.
“Our goal in not to buy Tom Stewart’s place,” Robinson said. “Our goal is to be moderately successful to stay on the Island.”
Island Quilter is located at 17626 Vashon Hwy. S.W. on Vashon Island, Wash. Call the store at (206) 713 – 6000 or see the store’s website at www.IslandQuilter.com