During the drive to Long Beach, one of our stops was in Paso Robles, which has 3 (!!!!) quilt shops. We tried to find the shop and initially failed. We were starving so we went to lunch and then tried again to find Birch Fabrics, which has the online store name of FabricWorm. Due to the success of the business, the owner, Cynthia, has had to move three times in the past few months. We were about to give up finding her brick and mortar shop and move on. I spotted the address on a building, but not the ‘unit’ number. TFQ was ready to give up, so I said I would just walk around the corner and see if I could see it when I saw the sign. The experience was totally worth the hunt.
Cynthia Mann is the owner of Fabric Worm/Birch Fabrics and she is the nicest, most welcoming person I have met in a long time. She spent tons of time with us, showed us everything, talked to us about our trip and her fabrics and upcoming fabrics and more topics than I can remember.
I never thought about seriously reviewing shops and creating categories within the review on which I could rate shops, but if I did, for Birch Fabrics, they would be:
Scale: (worst) 1-5 (best)
Staff Friendliness: 5
Fabric Selection: 5
Customer Service: 10
This wasn’t just a walk in and select some bolts, cut and leave kind of shop. We spent about an hour talking with Cynthia and her staff. She not only has the brick and mortar shop and the online store, but also has a line of organic fabrics which she is distributing. I like the way she has built her business and grown it organically.
I mentioned, here, a fabric pack in which I was interested about a month or so ago. I actually was able to see it at the shop and swap out certain fabrics I knew I already had. One of the issues with customer service, generally, I have is that people aren’t flexible. Birch Fabrics has priced their fabrics in such a way that customers can swap out fabrics from their fabric packs if one or two don’t suit their needs. Cynthia wants happy customers. We are happy customers.
This turquoise sewing machine and bolt of fabric (defective, so they refused to sell me any, which I thought showed good ethics!) are in the front window inviting people into the shop.
They have a couple of interesting displays in the front of the shop, but the rest is fabric storage. Cynthia has the same kind of encyclopedic knowledge of fabric lines and designers that TFQ does, so they talked nonstop the whole time. I was looking at everything, entranced by the visuals.
The space is awesome! If I could have any kind of space I wanted, Birch Fabrics space would be transported to a spot near my house and the shop would be my workspace. The space is light and airy, bright and clean. There is plenty of horizontal space for laying out and gathering fabrics. They don’t have a lot of display quilts and projects, which keeps the visual clutter to a minimum.
Cynthia showed us her storeroom on one visit and I saw a lot of packages destined for international locations. We had a big discussion about fabric choices and offerings. TFQ thinks that many shops are missing a whole population segment by not offering more bright and modern fabrics. Cynthia has a lock on that market right now. (BTW, I tried to get TFQ to write a guest post about this and many other topics, but she politely declined)All of their fabric are modern and bright. They put interesting packs together and move the fabric through their shop.
Upstairs, the staff have the space for classes and are starting to have sewing classes for the local population. If the shop were near my house, I would be sewing there frequently.
There are plenty of cutting tables and one of Cynthia’s staff, Arlene, cut fabrics for us and for orders the whole time we were there. She is obviously integral to both the physical and online businesses. Another thing I liked is that Birch staff are fast and accurate fabric cutters.
Like the group I found tempting a month ago, the above group was also tempting. One thing I liked is that Birch staff puts together groups of fabrics by different designers that go really well together and will make interesting projects. In the group above, the scale and designs of the fabric are different enough to distinguish the fabrics from each other while maintaining interest in the potential project. I was filled with inspiration being in the shop.
1244 Pine Street, Ste. D
Paso Robles, Ca 93446
corner of 13th and Railroad
fabricworm [at] gmail [dot] com
If you are anywhere near this excellent shop, I would recommend a detour to stop by.