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Palmer Quilt Shop Closes After 19 Years

by | Sep 27, 2023 | News, Retail, Small Business

Just Sew, a quilting supply store in downtown Palmer, is set to close in September after serving the community for decades.

Rindi White | Alaska Business

After nineteen years, downtown Palmer cornerstone business Just Sew is closing its doors this month. The quilting store sold fabric and supplies, but was also a hub where quilters gathered for classes or just to work on projects alongside others who shared their love of the craft during weekly gatherings.

The Right Time

Just Sew is one of two quilting-focused stores owned by Carol Prosser, Brandy Bland, and Sarah Klever. The trio also owns The Quilt Tree in Anchorage, which will continue operations. Klever says after nineteen years, the timing was right to sell the Palmer store; longtime store manager Mary Johnson is retiring and it seemed a good time to reevaluate priorities. Klever says the owners are in negotiations with a new buyer, but it was too early to speak about future possibilities for the Palmer store.

Johnson says the store at 579 S. Alaska Street in Palmer, across the street from Vagabond Blues coffeeshop and the historic Palmer Community Center (Depot), has been the spot for fabric and quilting for more than thirty years, and she’s been part of it for most of that time. In the ‘80s the shop was known as Lil’s Fabric, she says, and it was more of a crafting variety store. Chris and Steve Fish purchased the store in 1989, she says, and set about shifting it from a dusty, musty shop to the bright fabric shop it eventually became.

The Fish family owned it for eight years, Johnson says, and sold it to Jim and Cheri Cooper (Jim Cooper is a former mayor of Palmer), who owned it for another eight years. When the Prosser/Bland/Klever trio purchased the store, Johnson says the focus really narrowed in on quilting and things pertaining to the quilting community. The store assisted the Valley Quilters Guild, which met at the nearby Palmer Depot building and was a drop-off point for quilt entries to the Alaska State Fair each year.

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Before becoming a fabric store, the building that housed Just Sew was Palmer Drug & Fountain.

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“It is kind of a downtown gathering place; we had classes as well as some daytime free, open-sew groups. Our Wednesday Women, they gathered here for sewing,” Johnson says. “It was a community gathering place for people who like to sew.”

The building itself has always been a gathering spot. Prior to its history as a craft and fabric store, it was Palmer Drug & Fountain. It operated as a drug store with a soda fountain in the ‘50s. Johnson says the fixtures for the soda fountain are still visible in the shop today.

Winding Down

Johnson says the shop will close by the end of September. After that, she said she and her husband plan to do some traveling, particularly to Hawaii, to visit family. After more than two decades managing the store, Johnson says the close-of-business announcement prompted several longtime customers to stop in and express their sadness at the end of an era and wish her well. She says while she’s happy to embark on her retirement adventures, there are moments she will miss as well.

“One of my favorite things, in wintertime when it’s cold and dark and everything is white and gray, are the ladies who would burst in the door and say they just needed to come in and get a color fix,” she says. “It’s nice and bright [in the store] and we have good lighting, so they’d come in and get their color fix and head back out.”

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