Quilt Shop Tour: Quilter’s Quarters

At the end of November I made a quick trip to Cedar Rapids for a baby shower for Lora and Buck’s baby.  I was worried I didn’t have enough fabrics for the mystery quilt so I stopped in Independence at Quilter’s Quarters.  In my area they are known as the store with all of the fabric.  I mean ALL OF THE FABRIC.  The shop has over 7000 bolts.


When I walked in I could hear a couple people talking in the back.  I roamed the entire store…It’s really large.


Seriously, there is fabric EVERYWHERE!  So much that the excess leans on the floor.  If there’s a fabric you want, she likely has it.


This picture right here shows about 1/6 of the store!!!Quilters-Quarters-4

There are novelty prints galore.


There are very few samples in proportion to the amount of fabric.


This is PART of the batik section….


The fabric is organized in a way that it can be seen.

This is the black and white section.

Here’s the floral section.Quilters-Quarters-10

She had a section and sold Pfaff sewing machines-at least I think she did.  They were covered in other stuff and and I wasn’t sure if that was the work area of if the machines were for sale.

There is even a section with religious fabric.


Here’s some “Jesus Loves Me” fabric.  I’ve never seen that before.  Have you?


In all that time roaming the store taking pictures and then even picking out about about nine bolts of fabric, she never acknowledged me or came out of the back room.  She just talked and talked to the man that was there with her.  It sounded like they might be neighbors or something talking about fencing.  I finally went to the back room and asked for my fabric to be cut.  To be honest, I don’t know why I didn’t just leave.  I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

She still didn’t talk to me but came to the counter and started cutting with the man following her.  I roamed some more.  I felt very awkward like I was eavesdropping in a on a personal conversation.

I ended up finding a couple novelty prints and made my way back to the counter.  She didn’t have my first fabric cut and still didn’t acknowledge me or let up on her conversation for a second.  I picked up here and there on the conversation even though I was trying to mind my own business.  Something about a church and remodeling….


That’s when I remembered that someone who had gone to our quilt retreat in August had said they stopped here and that this lady was making a retreat center in an old church in town.

She continued to talk to the guy.  She would cut one of my fabrics…refold the bolt edge….pin it in place….pause and look at the guy she was talking to…then take another of my bolts and cut it.

Still the lady never talked to me…still she didn’t include me in the conversation.  I’ve been to the shop enough to know that this is the owner.  WOW.  I was very unimpressed.  She grabbed my stack of fabric and asked if “was that all”. That was the first words she said to ME.  I was in the store for 25 minutes.  She started talking to the man again.  She took my debit card, ran it through the machine-never said anything to me.  She went to bag the fabric and said, “Oh, you’re doing the Bonnie Hunter mystery-these are her colors.”  I said “yep” and she went back to talking to her visitor.

I’ve been so hesitant to write this post.  I’ve thought and thought about if I should tell you about my experience.  I don’t want to be rude.  I don’t want to hurt her business…but this is what I do.  I visit quilt shops and I write reviews of them.  I feel like I would be betraying you the reader if I didn’t be honest in my review.

I am doing to do a 1-5 rating system….five being the best-I’m going to be stingy with my fives.  This is just my impression on the day I visited and took pictures.
Warm and Friendly: 0
Selection of Goods: 3 lots of bolts of fabric but I like the other things too!
Neat and Organized: 3 I had to move bolts of fabric to get to what I wanted.  I tripped on another bolt that didn’t have shelf space.
Parking:  4
Cozy and Cute: 1 limited samples limited cute displays
Outside Appeal: 2

I think after visiting this shop I am considering adding the category of “inspiring”.  This shop isn’t.  I didn’t really realize that until I went to write this review.  I love shops that have cute little projects that get me to buy things that I normally wouldn’t have thought to buy.  I love displays of bright colored zippers and three projects made up using them.  Even though I don’t make purses, I like to see them made and patterns for them.  I like to see a baby toy, bibs, embroidery samples.  I like looking at things besides bolts of fabric…but if you are looking for fabric this is the place to go.

This shop is located about 20 minutes south of Lou Ann’s Quilt Garden and Retreat in Oelwein where we held our retreat.  Some people who attended suggested that we should do another retreat only move it to this location as there would be more space here in the new church retreat she is making….NO WAY would I ever do that.  NEVER.  I like warm and friendly.  Warm and friendly trumps space for me any day.

I’m hoping this was an off day.  I’m hoping that customers normally feel welcome and wanted.  So will I go back.  Only if I can’t find what I’m looking for ANYWHERE else!!  I’m really hoping that others who have visited the shop and had a good experience will chime in and let us know about that in the comment section.  I want the best for this shop owner and am hoping someone has something to say that will balance out this review.

Stop back tomorrow and see what I did buy.

35 thoughts on “Quilt Shop Tour: Quilter’s Quarters”

  1. My sister and I once visited a quilt shop on a shop hop that took us 1-1/2 hours, one way to visit. The owner was a very unhappy soul. She groused about all the extra work the hop caused her and made us feel like we were bothering her with our purchases. And we were the only ones there! When my sis, who always sees the best in people and ever gives the benefit of the doubt, said, “Wow! That was uncomfortable.”, I knew it hadn’t been over-sensitive. We almost didn’t go back the next year. She was cordial that year, and by the third year, we were greeted like long lost friends. We decided she must have had a really heavy heart that first year.

    I always try to give someone a second chance, as long as the encounter wasn’t hostile. And there was a shop that was horribly rude and condescending when I asked “another beginner’s question”. We have never returned there.

  2. Glad you wrote an honest review! It looks like she has lots of fabric and a nice big store but needs some customer service training, extra shelving and more displays! All of those things are doable! I hope she hears about this review and makes some positive changes! Have a Happy New Year Jo!

  3. Honestly Jo, the overall impression that I got of that store just from the pics is that she is a fabric hoarder who just needed a place to store her bolts.

    The 3 differences between a fabric hoarder and an active merchant/quilter are that:
    1. the fabric actually gets moved and used,
    2. finished projects can be seen, and
    3. customers are encouraged in their own projects.

  4. I live close to Rockford and there was a quilt shop there I want to visit. I made the effort and was loking at everything in the store and the owner came up to me and asked if I needed help. I replied I was looking at averything. She left and then was involved with obvious guild members from that area and never waited on me again. She infact acted as if I was scum. I had to walk to the desk and ask for help from another employee. Never asked for my email address or please sign up for our newsletter. Yes she had them. She was a published designer and later became an editor for a national quilt magazine. Her business went down hill and she had to sell it. Your public will make or break you if you do not engage with them. Sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t the greatest since she has somuch fabric. Chris

  5. Lynne Nicholson UK

    Oh dear not my kind of shop. I like to browse undisturbed but I like to chat while my fabric is cut. With all that fabric on the floor I couldn’t get close enough to the shelves to see (I’m legally blind and have to up close and very personal to see what I’m looking at, or get my phone out and look through the camera.

  6. Carolyn in Texas

    The first thing I noticed was all the fabric a person would need to move to get to what they wanted. Would I do it? Nope, I came fabric shopping not merchandise rearranging. I agree with the description of “fabric hoarder”. It’s one of those shops I would not waste time and gas for.

  7. We shopped at this shop during the August quilt retreat. There were 3 of us and then 2 more came. We had the same experience until check out time. Then we started asking her questions about the store building and such. She was fairly friendly then and talked right along. The store has lots of fabric, but not many examples.

  8. It is unfortunate that this shop was not more friendly or welcoming. It does appear to have lots of fabrics which is nice to know if one is searching for something in particular. I have been there only once many years ago and I found the shop busy. I appreciate that you give us an honest review on what you experienced.

  9. thanks for the unvarnished review. This is the primary reason quilt shops fail. Doesn’t matter how much fabric she has I wouldn’t walk across the street to go there. She better forget about the church center she won’t have anyone come. Bet she will be out of business within a year. Sounds like an awful experience. I would have walked out.

  10. Sad, that is why she has so much fabric, she doesn’t sell much.
    When someone is obviously unhappy, I ask myself if that person is having personal problems, with family members or health concerns. A quilt shop should be a happy place.

  11. So sorry to hear of your experience. I went to this shop when I was home for retreat in 2015 with my Aunt and I agree it wasn’t the friendliest place I had ever been to. The owner was out of the country and the gal in charge did acknowledge us and left us alone as we tripped through the tons of bolts. She was slow at check out, but did become chatty with things going on in the area we might be interested in. I agree that the store is on overload with fabric and needs more friendly faces.

  12. Yea for you, Jo, blogging about a negative experience!! She needs to change her ways, or she won’t be in business for long. I think you approached this post by being honest and truthful!! I’ve only walked out of a store once because the service was so poor, and she really had some fabric that I wanted, but just couldn’t handle the experience!!

  13. I understand you completely, Jo! There is a quilt shop here in Louisville that I go to once in a great moon. You are supposed to feel welcome, according to the name (which I won’t mention). I have never felt that way in that store. The owner, who I have seen on occasion, doesn’t seem friendly at all. Because of that, I very rarely go there. I get treated much nicer at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s, so I go there and even get cheaper pricing.

  14. Thanks for the honest review. I know that it’s hard for some of us to voice negative opinions, but you were just stating your experience. A friendly, helpful staff really helps selling a store. Again, thanks for sharing.

  15. I went there during the retreat, only because I had driven through Independence several times looking for that shop and could never find her. It is a huge store front and her sign is not very big. The vertical sign on the post does not catch the drivers eye when passing through town on a busy day. I don’t believe that we were greeted either when we came in and the conversation was uncomfortable as they were talking about OUR retreat at Lou Ann’s.
    I am hoping that if you have another retreat it is at Lou Ann’s. She was not just a shop keeper, she was a perfect hostess. Her husband jumped right in and helped in anyway he could also.
    Yes, I love to buy fabric and gadgets when going to retreats, but the experience of the retreat itself can be the make or break the whole experience. I can’t imagine not having a great time each and every time at Lou Ann’s. .

  16. one more thought….. it would be interesting to do a “re-visit” review in a couple of months and compare photos to see if anything has changed.

    It’s always nice to give people who are having problems a second chance to shine.
    There must be some reason why she decided to get into the quilt shop business in the first place, but maybe she’s lost her vision along the way, or it’s gotten side tracked.
    Just a thought.

  17. Nothing wrong with honesty. Unfortunately this is how she does business. Your experience is very common there. The only time it has been different for me when when she wasn’t there. We all have choices when we buy our fabric, and for me, I will choose to drive right on by.

  18. I was just at that shop and I loved all the fabric, but I also not greeted. When she cut my fabric I was the one who did most of the talking. Definitely not the most friendly place but I wanted fabric not conversation. I’m moving back to Iowa after 17 years in Branson Mo. But I will say they need to change they can’t pay the bills if people stop spending their hard earned money.

  19. Its been my personal experience that most fabric store associates are not friendly. Why do What u do if u dont love it.

  20. I do agree with some of the comments that it would seem to be fair to return to the shop on a future date to see if any changes have occurred. With the quilting grapevine, surely your comments would have found their way to the owner. It’s possible that creating the potential retreat is putting a heavy burden on the lady and the pressure had gotten to her. Hopefully, it was just an off period. I would give her the benefit of the doubt. Love to read your reviews of the stores. Thanks.

  21. If staff are friendly, I go back. There are a couple of stores where the staff are super welcoming. Those are the ones I shop at. The biggest draw at quilt shops to me is customer service. I like being made to feel “welcome.”

  22. I shop at Quilters Quarters regularly. She has tons of fabrics. She once spent HOURS with me helping me select batiks for a Judy Niemeyer class/retreat I was doing at LouAnn’s.

    I wish she had more samples made. I think that would help her sell more. More kits ready to grab and go would also be helpful. Checkout there is usually slow but I find that is because she usually is talking to the customer quite a bit.

    She is having a back room made into her workspace and longarm room. That is the reason for a lot of the disorganization in the back area of the shop. Hopefully when that room is done, things will be cleaned up some.

    I hope her retreat area becomes successful. Too many quilt shops have closed lately in our area.

    I do like her prices. She keeps them on the low side of what everyone else does.

    I hope you give her another chance sometime in the future. Maybe when all that construction is finished, she can focus on her customers more. Not that she shouldn’t be doing that right now. That is how the rest is going to be paid – by customers that are happy!

  23. Jo, we stopped at that shop on our way to the August Retreat at Lou Ann’s with Bonnie Hunter. We too we amazed by the amount of fabric and were greeted the same as you…not. We shop hopped on our way and another shop in Ames, Iowa had just as much fabric but we were warmly greeted and asked several times if we needed help and they even got out their sign for our group photo as we were posting our adventures on FB. Pondering your review today, there are many shops and online shops where we can find huge selections…..my prediction is time will tell what stays open in a year or two. As for the retreat center….Lou Ann’s can’t be beat. She is so personable as is her husband and other staff!!! Good to read your reviews and stay healthy in 2018!!

  24. I’m fortunate that LouAnn’s is my very closest quilt shop. I go there often during my lunch hour. LouAnn and Jeff are the best!!! So glad I purchased my longarm from there – their service and help can’t be beat!

  25. I visited her shop a couple of times when she had it out in the country, and each time it had more and more, and then too much fabric. I hate to say that because can there ever be too much? But when you can’t walk down an aisle, then it’s too much. I also have visited her shop in town twice. Once was a few years ago, and I was pleased to find some older fabrics that I loved. I wanted to take my friend from CA there, so we stopped on the way to retreat. Your description of her and the shop are both exactly right, in my opinion. I truly don’t think she is a rude person, just maybe preoccupied by people that she knows? I don’t know quite how to say what I’m thinking. We were treated exactly the same way – she had a friend (?) there and they talked the entire time we were in the shop. What I do like is her prices, and again…if you need an older fabric, you will probably find it there!

  26. Yes I had problems with her on the phone while I was there and again she didn’t stop and speak with me and took forever to cut my fabric ,I like her selection but won’t go there unless I really need something.

  27. I go to this shop every couple of weeks. The owner is always friendly to me and my friends. I can’t tell you how many times she has helped me make my quilts better. She always gives me undivided attention when it’s my turn in line. My quilts are better because of this quilt shot owner.

    It’s fine if quilter like lots of quilts hanging on the walls and purses on display. Everyone is different in their tastes and preferences. I personally prefer lots of fabric choices and good prices. I also know this shop has the best prices and best selection of fabric around. I’ve been to quilt shops all over the country.

    I belong to an online quilt group. A few months ago a few newbies complained when one of the moderators wrote that a stray kitten had showed up on Christmas morning. The newbies decided that this was a quilt group and talking about cats and kittens was off topic. The quilt group owner made her first and only rule… Be Nice! Those few rude quilters made quilters look bad. I hate it when that happens.

    1. Pam, thanks for chiming in and saying something good about the shop. As I wrote I was hoping it was just me who had a bad experience. As the owner of this blog, I have one rule. The rule is to always be honest. If pattern instructions aren’t understandable, I write that. If a company asks me to try a product and I don’t like it. I say that. I stuck with my rule of being honest when I wrote about the shop and the owner. My loyalty with never be to a shop or company. My loyalty will always be to my readers.

      1. You’re welcome, Jo. People are unique. What’s important to some, may not be to others. I like to make my quilts as well made and interesting as I can. I want each quilt to be beautiful and unique and worthy of all the time and fabric I have put into them. I’m long past the time where I want quick and easy quilts. Wish me luck I succeed.
        Speaking of cats and quilters. I had an injured, starving stray cat show up in the middle of winter in 2020. She has become my quilting buddy. There is not one quilt where she hasn’t tried to rearrange my carefully arranged quilt blocks. Some quilters will find my cat story off topic. Some won’t. See. We are all unique. I wish we were all nice.

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