Creative Sewing & Quilting in Geneva marks 25 years as a hot spot for quilters
Not many businesses have an interior adorned with colorful quilts showcasing butterflies, flowers, a chart of the ABCs, or the St. Joseph Lighthouse along the Great Lakes.
There's a reason the sign at Creative Sewing & Quilting in Geneva touts the store as "Your Happy Quilt Place." For 25 years, the shop at 11 N. First St. has been that and more for the vast majority of the customers who come in to buy fabric, upgrade sewing machines or take classes to learn the art form that is quilting.
"In the sewing world, the quilting portion is by far the biggest part of the pie," said Creative Sewing & Quilting owner Lisa Flyte. "You have some clothing sewers or home decorators, or some who just do repairs on things."
But creating a colorful quilt as a wall hanging, bed cover, baby quilt or a sentimental gift is the most popular project, Flyte said.
"People who sew today and come into our store are those who have the time in their life to do it, as an empty nester or just retired," Flyte added. "And they have the financial ability to do it."
Some customers sew as many as 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 aggravating, and it's no fun," she added.
The array of impressive machines and fabrics across the 4,000-square-foot store is why Creative Sewing & Quilting becomes a beehive of activity on any given day. Customers take classes or stop in to ask Flyte and her children all sorts of questions about their projects at the family-run business.
"You can now buy the machine you really love, and you get this awesome tool, and you really enjoy sitting down to sew," Flyte said. "It's not my Grandma's machine because that is not what I sell today."
Flyte admitted she still has her grandmother's machine and has sewn with it in the past, but "it's not the tool I would sit down to use now."
Among other sessions, Flyte conducts a "Block of the Month" quilt project for participants who create a different portion, or block, of a quilt over six months or longer.
"We focus on each block to learn the skill sets needed to complete it successfully," Flyte said. "They learn new techniques and gain the confidence to do it."
Flyte noticed a business boost during the pandemic, saying many people took up hobbies, with more women turning to sewing.
"We saw a huge increase in sewers," she noted. "People were at home and had the time to do it." At age 60, Flyte has spent a lot of time "doing it," even well before opening the Geneva store in May of 1997 with her late husband Joe, who died in 2015. The second generation of Flytes -- Grant, Eric and Sarah -- joined the family business at that time.
Flyte had a love for sewing as early as age 10 and eventually worked at a sewing shop in her hometown of Sandwich during her high school and college years. She tried the corporate business world after college graduation in 1984, but when the opportunity to buy that sewing shop came up in May of 1987, she and her husband bought it.
After operating stores in Sandwich and Sycamore for a period of time, they expanded their efforts to a store on the east side of St. Charles and another in Warrenville. Ultimately, they moved to Geneva, shut down the other operations and focused on the single store. Thus, the month of May is designated as the 25th-anniversary celebration.
"It's a unique, niche business, for sure," Flyte said. "About 2 to 3 percent of a standard population would be considered people who sew and would be interested in coming into our store. "But, overall, there are enough of them to keep us in business."
A summer of pop-ups
If retail businesses continue to struggle with supply chain and workforce problems, it could turn out that many of our brick-and-mortar sites will be filled with small businesses that use 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 common.
The Batavia Boardwalk Shops operate under this concept during the summer months. It gives area residents a place to visit them simultaneously and provides shop owners a chance to get their footing and possibly move into a downtown Batavia storefront in the future.
This year, Batavia Boardwalk Shops will feature 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 when it opens Friday, May 20.
In addition, the Geneva Commons mall recently conducted its first "Uncommon Collective" contest for small businesses to win a storefront spot in the Commons, along with some prize money to help open and design their stores.
Initially set to award two winners, judges expanded the contest to five new businesses earning spots. Judges were so impressed with the contest entrants they could not decide on just two.
The winning stores -- Bread.Geneva, Swish Avenue, Twee Partees, Salt & Wilde, and Glow With Flo -- will be open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
It would be nice to wander into a meeting where officials from the state treasurer's office would reveal property or funds worth millions of dollars in my name had not been claimed.
These things likely happen to someone. After all, about five years ago, my mother was informed about a bank account my dad, who passed away in 2006, had tucked away someplace. She knew nothing about it and ended up with what seemed like a $25,000 "prize" at the time.
You won't know about unclaimed property unless you learn the ropes. And that's what State Sen. Don DeWitte has in mind in hosting "Unclaimed Property Day" from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the St. Charles Public Library, 1 S. Sixth Ave.
DeWitte and a rep from Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerich's office will be available to help people figure out if they are owed money and how to go about filing a claim.
Registration isn't required for the event, but it is recommended by visiting SenatorDeWitte.com/events.
At peace with the dirt
If someone predicted I would learn to enjoy doing yard work in my retirement, I would have written off such a notion as being as ridiculous as predicting the Bears will win the Super Bowl next year.
However, strange things happen when your mind is clear of daily deadlines and meetings, interviews and planning. Those tasks took up the majority of my days before retiring from my full-time job late last year. Plus, I worked most weekends on the sports beat in my younger days.
It turns out that working in our yard is relaxing. Your mind may wander while doing it, but it's not cluttered with worries about work or nonsense like what stupid things a politician or former president might be saying.
Now, working in the yard, the domain and strength of my wife for the past few decades, is looked upon with far more interest and a willingness to participate from yours truly.
When digging some dirt at my son's house, our nearly 2-year-old granddaughter wanted to help. She joined in, and, as a result, I have become "Grandpa Dirt" in her mind.
Yes, I'm late to this game at age 69. It's when most would "hire out" for such work. But I'm glad to report I helped edge our planting bends and shoveled and moved around four yards of mulch in one day. On other days, my wife and I spread more than 60 bags.
It turns out that my wife and I are pretty good at these tasks. A neighbor about my age, noticing I was spreading dirt by hand, jokingly asked if I could also edge his beds.
He said he would do it himself, but "I'd never be able to get back up if I was on the ground like that." So far, I can still get up off the ground easily enough. I suppose that lends more credence to any prediction about suddenly enjoying yard work.