BAXTER — Susan Lommen’s love of fabric and the fellowship surrounding the creative talents who mold fabric into artistry brought her to the quilting business.
She started at Colorz for Quilts as an employee and became sole owner after buying out the store’s founders during the following years.
Colorz for Quilts spent the last 11 years at the busy corner of Washington and Northwest Fourth streets in Brainerd. A few days ago, the store opened in its new location in the Westport Mall in Baxter.
Two days into the move, Lommen said the quilt shop is picking up new customers. While she worried about losing the high visibility at the corner across from the Walgreens’ store, Lommen said the Brainerd store was a bit more challenging for people to access.
“We are finding we are picking up customers who are visiting other shops,” Lommen said of the Westport Mall site. “I think it is going to be a really good move for us.”
Colorz for Quilts opened in 2001. The move adds 500 square feet of space. The shop has a dedicated classroom, which may also be used for club meetings.
A new feature in the move is a more visible partnership with Cherrywood Fabrics, creating a first retail outlet for the Brainerd-based producer of suede-look hand-dyed cottons.
Cherrywood Fabrics started in the late Dawn Hall’s basement and now reports it ships fabric allover the world through its web-based business and quilt shows.
Lommen said while Colorz for Quilts always had a Cherrywood fabric corner, devoting a room to the fabric will really showcase the company’s full line of hand-dyed products.
Lommen said Cherrywood Fabrics served as her inspiration to get into the business. Lommen said part of the draw was working in an industry attracting people who were excited to be there and part of a creative outlet in fabrics.
“I thought, ‘How can I earn my living at this?’ and I did a couple of shows with them,” Lommen said. She was hooked and later took a job at Colorz for Quilts with store owners Karen DeVries and Kathy Bardolph. Lommen later bought out Bardolph’s interest in the business and became the sole owner when DeVries retired in 2011.
“I’ve got good staff,” Lommen said. “There is no way you can do this on your own.”
Lommen said the business saw a decline during the Great Recession but it is now seeing a comeback. The local and loyal customer base is augmented by summer seasonal traffic.
“We’ve built a healthy customer base for our quilt shop in this community and have needed more room for some time,” Lommen stated. “There are 21 million quilters in the U.S. and we’re part of a $3.5 billion industry. We’re hoping our larger space, with a dedicated classroom, will better serve the quilters who rely on Brainerd-Baxter as their regional shopping center as well as those who visit our area in the summer.”
Customer Deb Doucette said she was glad to see the open sign on the new store site.
“They’ve just got everything — a good variety — and it’s fun,” Doucette said, after sharing laughs and good-natured banter at the checkout counter with Lommen and staff member Valerie Kvamme. “It’s not just fabric — it’s friendship, too.”