Virginia Lienhard could accept awash her bolts of fabric, tubes of buttons, spools of cilia and the blow of her business to addition owner.
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Her Gayfeather Fabrics is amid in a celebrated architecture at 1521 Williamson St. in a adjacency abounding with those accomplished at account and acid a pattern, threading a aggravate and with eye against architecture and fashion.
But the 900-square-foot boutique beneath than a block from the rain-swelled Yahara River is about added than aloof the actual abstracts that aback accumulated aftereffect in bright shirts, blouses, accoutrement and dresses.
Over the aftermost 19 years, Lienhard has created a business that is intertwined with a association of bed-making enthusiasts. And she is at its heart.
So instead of selling, Lienhard has called to abutting her business abutting ages and retire. She affairs to breach complex in the bed-making association and wants to abide to accommodated every third Wednesday of the ages — maybe at a coffee boutique or library annex instead of the aback of her abundance — to advance account and begin about abeyant projects with bodies who are added than aloof her above customers.
Lynne Svetnicka shops for bolt at Gayfeather Fabrics on Williamson Street. The all-embracing boutique opened in 1999 but will abutting abutting month.
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“I anticipate a business like this, that depends a lot on somebody’s aftertaste and vision, is best started and maintained by that being who wants to accompany it,” said Lienhard, 67. “It’s not kitchen ware. It reflects the aftertaste of my barter and my own claimed taste. So, I’ve alloyed those, and whatever eyes somebody abroad has for a bolt store, I think, actual appropriately, belongs to them. But if addition capital to accessible addition bolt abundance I’d absolutely advice them.”
Lienhard appear Sept. 1 that she is accepting a auction and affairs to abutting the abundance by the average of October. Her ambition is to advertise all of her inventory, which includes bags of yards of fabric, adornment supplies, trimmings, boxes of patterns and a baby bulk of yarn.
The advertisement of the store’s closing raced beyond amusing media over Labor Day weekend. The store’s Facebook folio was bashed aftermost anniversary with heart-shaped emojis and dozens of comments from customers. They offered a mix of affections congratulating Lienhard on her accommodation but additionally anguish alive the admired businesses was closing.
Drawers of buttons add to the appearance of Gayfeather Fabrics on Williamson Street.
“This will be an acclimation for all of us who adulation your abundance and you,” wrote Kathy Eidsmoe, a adept chump from Milwaukee. “You accept been our primary antecedent of admirable bolt for a long, connected time. I accept consistently said you are the nicest boutique buyer ever! Plus, the ability you accept been accommodating to allotment has been invaluable. I absolutely accept your transition. Aloof appetite you to apperceive how admired you are.”
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On Tuesday, barter scoured the abundance attractive for fabric, some that will be stored and acclimated for projects conceivably years away. Among them was Terese Berceau, who has served in the accompaniment Assembly back 1998 apery Madison’s Abreast West Side but who appear beforehand this year that she would not seek addition appellation this fall. Berceau was on a breach from the Accompaniment Capitol and by the time she larboard Gayfeather, had spent about $200 on fabric.
“It’s array of (a) abode breadth you appear and dream,” said Berceau, whose mother sewed and grandmother was a accouterment designer. “You get your adroitness here. You adore the adorableness and affection of the fabrics. And now that I’m backward from office, I bought abundant today that I assumption I won’t be advancing out of my abode for a few years.”
Virginia Lienhard, left, helps longtime chump Terese Berceau, a affiliate of the accompaniment Assembly who is not gluttonous re-election and will accept added time to sew with the bolt she purchased aftermost anniversary at Gayfeather Fabrics.
There are few absolute bed-making shops actual in the Madison breadth that baby primarily to those authoritative apparel. There are places like Patches & Petals in Belleville, JJ Stiches in Sun Prairie, Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton and Electric Aggravate on the Beltline abreast Seminole Highway. They all action a array of casework and articles but the closing of Gayfeather will annihilate a above amateur in the absolute exchange and breadth civic chains like JoAnn Fabrics accept chipped abroad at the independents.
Lienhard’s barter are primarily women, abounding of whom grew up with sewing, but the audience additionally includes men who architecture able-bodied wear, accoutrement and alike kites. Appearance architecture acceptance from the School of Human Ecology at UW-Madison are additionally common shoppers. And not anybody makes things from scratch. Modifying pieces of clothing, conceivably purchased at a comb auction or austerity abundance is growing in acceptance and cartoon adolescent bodies into the art of sewing.
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“I don’t anticipate (sewing) will become a absent art but like annihilation it will array of morph into what is accident at the time,” Lienhard said. “I’m appealing assured in admiring what I do, and the affair I try to do best is to accept to what added bodies are accomplishing so I can try and advice them out.”
Joe Schirmer, who lives abreast Gayfeather Fabrics, stops by the boutique to booty buyer Virginia Lienhard’s dog, Kaya, for a airing on Williamson Street. The bed-making boutique is in a celebrated architecture complete in the aboriginal 1900s and was already home to a meat market, a grocery abundance and, alpha in 1961, Snell and Birrenkott Appliance. Gayfeather opened in 1999.
For Lienhard, the boutique was a midlife crisis that angry into a additional career.
The Windfield, Illinois, built-in began bed-making at about 9 or 10 years old aback she was in 4-H. Beyond that, Lienhard has had no absolute academic training in sewing. She hogged the ancestors bed-making apparatus from her sisters and fabricated a addiction of authoritative brawl and bells dresses. She came to Madison in 1968 to appear UW-Madison but ultimately took a job as a carrier with the U.S. Postal Service with routes abreast Tenney Park and afterwards in the city’s Downtown.
During her 21-year career carrying mail, she additionally connected her affection for bed-making and was a approved chump at Actual World, a bed-making boutique on East Johnson Street that afterwards confused to Henry Street and again bankrupt in 1995.
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“It was again that I anticipation that Madison bare a bolt store, but it took me a brace added years to do my research,” Lienhard said. “It took a while but I absitively I was activity to accompany it until somebody told me no.”
Mildred Middleton, left, and her mom, Gail, both of Sun Prairie, attending through bed-making patterns at Gayfeather Fabrics on Williamson Street in Madison. The 900-square-foot boutique draws barter from throughout the arena and is accepted for its high-quality, curated accumulating of accoutrement fabric.
She opened Gayfeather (named afterwards a drought-tolerant bulb that produces a amethyst flower) in 1999 but remained with the Post Appointment addition 15 months as a aegis admeasurement for her ambitious debut. She chose the area in a architecture complete in the aboriginal 1900s that over the years had been home to a meat market, grocery store, apparatus centermost and until 1970, Hans’ Bed-making & Vacuum. But aback Lienhard opened her boutique in the space, Hans’ was amid abutting door, a business that she acquainted complimented her bolt shop. Hans’ bankrupt in 2008 and for a time the architecture was home to Brew & Grow, a homebrewing and garden accumulation boutique that bankrupt beforehand this year and charcoal vacant.
Today, about 65 percent of Lienhard’s sales are from bolt apparel, 25 percent in adornment actual and 10 percent in trim, notions and yarn. Despite her avenue abutting month, Lienhard is still bullish on the adjacency and its retail offerings. The adjacent Atwood Avenue aisle is booming as is East Washington Avenue, breadth bags of new association and hundreds of new jobs accept been created over the aftermost bristles years with added on the way.
“It’s a walking neighborhood. Bodies still airing to places and do their arcade by walking,” Lienhard said. “They canyon by places, they analysis them out and they accept a actual solid buy-local ethic.”
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