Fabric stores finding new ways as people turn to old crafts

Two Charlottetown fabric stores are finding new customers in the COVID-19 pandemic, but still developing ways of making their business work in the new reality.

‘There are times it’s so busy we’re going right out straight’

You can buy fabric in Charlottetown, but you can't go into the stores right now. (Island Fabric/Facebook)

Two Charlottetown fabric stores are finding new customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but still developing ways of making their business work in the new reality.

Both stores closed their doors to customers in mid-March.

Suzanne Lane, the owner of Quilting B and More, thought that would be that. But she went into the store the following day because she had sewing machines to repair. The phone started ringing and Facebook messages started coming in.

"The majority of the people who are shopping and calling us have not been our regular customers," said Lane.

"I think it's mainly people who are not working now due to the COVID-19 and are picking up sewing again."

Quilting B and More has added a shopping cart to its web site. (Quilting B and More)

She has since hired back her daughter to help with the workload. They are doing curbside pickup, mail order, and once a week she drives around the city doing deliveries.

Still, she said, business is only about half what it was at this time last year.

Pandemic-related gear big sellers

Island Fabrics was shut down entirely for a time, said manager Barbara Perry.

The owner is based in Ontario, where the pandemic hit earlier and harder, and did not want to take any risks, said Perry. After a couple of weeks, however, they decided to start taking phone and Facebook orders.

It's been "like a roller coaster," Perry said.

"There are times it's so busy we're going right out straight, and then we'll have a quiet time where we're just like, 'Well, where did everybody go?'"

A lot of the orders have been pandemic-related, she said. Elastic for face masks has been difficult to keep in stock at both stores. Perry said she is now getting requests for medical gowns for dentists and hair dressers.

Despite the limited options for customers, she said the store is close to breaking even financially, and business is growing.

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With files from Island Morning


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