I had read news stories about how the business had come about and was a huge employer for the town, but I wasn't prepared for how well things were done. I've been to a lot of quilt shops and some are better than others. These were definitely on the upper end of the spectrum. The five stores are all on the town's main street and uses the buildings already in place. They have been redone but in keeping with the town's history and the theme of the store. There were store front displays and all sorts of little things that really made each shop. Shops are divided up by what they sell. If you want to compare fabrics from different shops, you can ask somebody to run a bolt over for you. There is also a huge pile of (branded) umbrellas so you don't get wet when walking between stores in bad weather.
Ok, so the shops themselves. There is the flagship store called 'Missouri Star'. I don't have a picture of the complete outside, but inside is what counts. There are bolts and bolts of fabric. Yes, some are multiple bolts of the same thing, but they have a huge inventory. Fabrics are arranged by collection and all the major fabric companies are represented. This shop has only print fabrics, templates and notions. If you live within 2 hours of the store and you want to particular about your fabric choices, you should drive down here. I say two hours, because then I can justify my driving down. I've ordered fabric online and when it has showed up I've been disappointed. This way you get to see exactly what you are getting.
The next store we went into was the reproduction shop. I am not a fan of reproduction fabrics, but with the atmosphere I looked at them in a totally different light. It was mostly civil war, but also things like French General. There was also a selection of '30s fabrics.
Across the street was the holiday store. Mostly Christmas, but also Valentine's Day, Fall and Halloween. Again, the little things like the nice sign and the awning and the front window. The ceiling was lovely, so I took a picture of that.
I missed taking a picture of the batik store. I bought something there, so maybe that was why I was disappointed. It was the least decorated and the most sterile in my opinion.
Hamilton is the birthplace of J.C. Penney, the man. The solids fabric store is housed in what was the 100th J.C. Penney's store. It is called Penney's in a nod to the town and store's heritage. This was my favourite store. It was beautiful inside. Spacious and lovely wood floors. Tons of light and solids arranged by manufacturer and then colour. I liked that because I don't pre-wash. I figure that sticking with the same manufacturer means everything will shrink similarly. The store was filled with demo quilts and I recognized several from youtube tutorials.
There were also blenders and basics. This is where I did my shopping. I am participating Gen X Quilters Block of the Month and using Cotton + Steel basics. I need a few more colours to give some diversity to my blocks since I am not following the colour layout as instructed. I needed to do some coordinating and it was nice having Doris weighing in on my choices as well.
I genuinely had a great time. I am planning on going back. I think it would be a fun place to do a meet up. I can't recommend the town and the stores enough. It really is well done and I love that it has brought new life to the town.