Hard to believe, but it's been over two years since we moved from the old location near Court Square to our present address in Waterman Square Shopping Center. Moving so much inventory and so many store fixtures was a HUGE job! It was all we could do to get everything re-located and set up for business within just a few days.
926 West Market Street
Now that we're here and well settled in, we've been turning our attention to the way the goodies are displayed. Some ideas have been on the back burner with little time to put them into action. Some ideas we've picked up along the way from customer suggestions and business seminars. Recently, we've embarked on some serious re-arranging!
Samples of all the upholstery and drapery fabrics, both in-stock and special order
We've had a lot of success and customer compliments with our home decor samples of upholstery and drapery fabrics. Every special-order fabric as well as every fabric on big rolls in the back of the store is displayed in color families on the home dec sample rack. Customers can easily see what's in stock and narrow their browsing by color. We even allow borrowing . . . up to 5 samples for 3 days . . . to compare fabrics to carpeting, wall paint and other textiles at home. A great idea from one of our staff (thanks, Doris!) has turned into a great convenience for our customers.
We have some gorgeous lace and embroidered fabrics for customers making special garments like prom and wedding dresses. Because they are delicate and expensive, they are kept clean and dust-free in protective bags. Good idea . . . except that customers couldn't see them clearly or handle them. (You know that's a problem! We have to touch and feel fabrics before we buy!)
Not so easy to see or get to!
Well, the light bulb went off a few weeks ago! Why not hang touch-able, feel-able, see-able samples of all those stunning laces and embroideries where customers could actually reach them? Duh!
So we did!
The protective bags have been banished to a back room where they can be safe, and now our customers can actually see and touch the inventory. Much better!
Even puppies like visiting us.
Max brought Ellie in for a little shopping today.
Max needed a down pillow form.
If you're a regular at Ragtime, you probably already know us -- or most of us. If you're not, we'd like to introduce ourselves!
Belle's the owner and manager of Ragtime Fabrics.
She opened the store in March, 2003.
(She doesn't sew . . . she just runs a sewing store . . . lol!)
She's married with two adult children.
And a nearly one year old grandson, Gavin.
So Belle's a new grandma! Mention it, and she'll show you pictures!
Sylvia's been at Ragtime about six years, and has a big hand in choosing our fabulous variety of garment fabrics. She's had many years of experience sewing uniforms and costumes for performing arts groups and their band, choral and theatrical productions. Sylvia demonstrates Baby Lock machines, trains staff, and teaches sewing lessons to adults and kids.
Her family includes her husband, a local obstetrician/gynecologist, as well as six adult children and several grandchildren.
Shellie's our Quilting Queen! Since the mid-1990's, piecing and quilting have been her passion. Shellie especially loves modern quilt designs using jewel tones and batiks. If you need quilting advice -- fabric selection, thread theory, free motion and long-arm quilting encouragement -- come talk to Shellie or take one of her quilting classes. She always gets 5 star reviews from her quilting students!
Shellie's got a JMU professor husband, an archeologist daughter and a son studying computer science and engineering at Princeton.
Kelly loves the creative process of women's fashions, draping of fabric, and pattern making. She worked with a designer in California as a pattern drafter and studied two years at the Copenhagen Fashion and Design School. She enjoys teaching sewing and is especially good with our kids' camp sessions. Kelly keeps track of order paperwork when she's not waiting on customers, selling Baby Lock machines or teaching classes.
Kelly's a newlywed and about to become a homeowner any day now!
~ Ragtime Staff
To be continued . . .
Did you know that Ragtime Fabrics is owned and managed by someone who doesn't know much about sewing? And isn't really much interested in sewing?
Belle is the first to admit that the higher end Baby Lock sewing machines . . . well, let's just say
she finds them somewhat challenging.
Whuuuuuut??? That's crazy, right?
Years ago, I ran into Belle when I was shopping at The Fabric Shop on Court Square here in Harrisonburg. Michael the owner was on the verge of retiring and I, along with his other customers, was wondering what we'd do without a local sewing store. When Belle told me she was thinking about taking over the business, I was startled.
"I didn't know you sewed!" I exclaimed with the same delight I always feel when I discover a friend shares one of my favorite hobbies.
"Oh, I don't," she breezily replied.
This is what Belle's day OFF looks like! Cleaning up behind the store.
Over the next few months, I felt so worried, sad and apprehensive for Belle. Such a nice person. Such a shame that she was going to fail spectacularly in just a few months with her crazy idea of running a fabric store as a non-sewer!
And, selfishly, I was dismayed that the new store -- obviously! -- would be entirely inadequate since she didn't know the first thing about sewers and what they want.
Boy, was I wrong! Fifteen years later, Ragtime Fabrics is going strong with Belle at the helm.
I've often mused to myself how ironic it is.
Putting fabric away in the stock room.
Back in the 1980's, I owned a yarn shop. I'm an avid knitter -- so what better business for me to run, right? Well, I nursed it along for four years before facing reality (not enough customers, not enough sales). I realize in retrospect that I had very opinionated ideas about the yarns I carried (and those that I refused to sell). I was way too emotionally invested in the hobby to objectively judge how to run the business successfully.
I think now that one of Belle's many strengths as a business owner is that she is NOT into sewing. She doesn't make judgments about what her customers should want to buy...she carries what her customers do want to find in their local fabric shop, whether it's the finest laces and pure linen yardage or a neon-colored, zig-zagged striped polyester!
It's a wonder Belle isn't bald by now!
Next time you're in Ragtime, ask Belle how to sew a French seam or insert a zipper into the side of a bodice. She'll cheerfully admit she hasn't a clue and will call over an employee who can explain. But if you want her to carry a certain sewing tool or special order some purple vinyl for you, she'll be all ears and will do her best to provide you with it.
I'm thinking that may be why she's still in business and I'm not...lol!
Here at Ragtime Fabrics, we've been playing with the idea of a blog for several months.
One of the things we all love about working here is the sense of community, both with each other and with our customers. We know that in this age of social media, one way to nurture a community of like-minded folks is to communicate online among ourselves.
Some of our Ragtime friends who took Pamela Leggett's Perfect T-Shirt class
at the 2018 Winter Retreat.
What do we want our blog to be? Informative and entertaining! We want to have fun writing it, and we want our friends to have fun reading it. Our plan is to include sewing tips and lessons, customer highlights, free patterns, and occasional glimpses at the running of a fabric store. But most of all, we want the blog to become a conversation among the members of the Ragtime family! *
Our second location in 15 years . . . 926 West Market Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Each of us on the Ragtime staff will be contributing to the blog . . . and we hope you will, too! Feel free to comment on any post. And if you'd like to be a guest contributor, just let us know! We'd love to have you!
~ Ragtime Staff
* What we don't want it to become is an advertising platform for the store. We'll save the sales ads, class schedules, and Baby Lock specials for our weekly emails. (If you're not already on the emailing list, just click here to sign up.)
Our Ragtime Staff