Quilt Gallery owner Marianne Buller knows that quilters need their space.
So when she designed her new store, she gave equal weight to retail and classroom areas.
“When you walk in here now, everything is open and all-inclusive,” she said. “The old store was very divided.”
Buller purchased the Quilt Gallery in 2017 from Joan Hodgeboom, who’d run the business for 35 years. Buller wanted to own a building instead of renting the former site and she craved a more modern, open space. She built her new business on land almost 4 miles south of the original Quilt Gallery in Kalispell.
The store has no barriers between the shop side and the work space, where quilters gather at a collection of long tables for open-sewing time, workshops and demonstrations.
The Quilt Gallery moved into the store at the corner of U.S. 93 and Rocky Cliff Drive about a month ago.
“It was chaos — quilting chaos,” Buller said of the move, which occurred during the final phases of construction.
The benefits of having a shiny new store outweighed any concerns Buller might have had about asking loyal customers to drive a few more miles, she said.
“I like that it’s farther out of town,” Buller said. “It’s calmer and I think our quilters feel safer here in the evening.”
Ample cabinetry gives Buller room for another customer amenity — space to store machines for customers who drop by regularly for quilting sessions. The Quilt Gallery also services quilting equipment.
Buller brings decades of experience in both business and quilting to her role as store owner. She and her husband ran Trophys Foundations together for about 25 years. Buller was involved in every sense, pouring concrete and taking care of the finances.
She first became interested in quilting through her mother-in-law. As Buller’s passion for the craft grew, she started buying fabric at Glacier Quilts. She often dropped by the store after work, her clothing coated with dirt and cement.
Glacier Quilts owner Susan Gilman noticed.
“She asked if I packed concrete for a living and said anyone who works as hard as me could work for them,” Buller said.
Buller accepted a job and stayed on with Glacier Quilts for almost a decade while still doing books for the concrete company. She left Glacier Quilts when her father developed health issues.
“Then after my dad passed, life slowed down, the kids grew up,” she said. “I missed the quilters, which is why I decided to buy the store.”
She and Hodgeboom have maintained a good working relationship, Buller said. Hodgeboom is a regular instructor, recently offering “Joan’s Mystery Quilt Weekend” and the upcoming “Stitches with Joan,” scheduled in March. Hodgeboom’s patterns and popular line of batik fabrics, Montana Memories, are sold through the store.
Workshops are an important piece of the Quilt Gallery’s business. Along with regular events like open sews on Thursdays, free “Quilt Till you Wilt” sessions and special classes with local instructors, major upcoming events feature national and international stars of the quilting world.
Demonstration sessions for the AccuQuilt line of fabric cutters are also on the Quilt Gallery calendar. Buller recently added AccuQuilt to her product line, impressed with how the devices streamline the cutting process.
Online orders are also a staple of the store. The Quilt Gallery specializes in popular and unusual fabric lines, with many patterns by local designers.
The walls of the new store are lined with intricate and colorful quilts, each either an example of a pattern for purchase or the theme of a class. Hodgeboom and Quilt Gallery employee Connie Anderson have both designed patterns that were picked up by Hoffman, a well-known name in the fabrics and quilting world.
“I have a very talented staff,” Buller said.
For more information, visit www.quiltgallery.net
Business reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org