BEVERLY — Katie Nathwani of Beverly believes every quilt has a story.
The story of her business, The Quilter's Trunk, beings with a quilt that hangs on the wall of the new store at 10352 S. Western Ave. in Beverly. The boutique shop for quilters, sewers and machine embroiderers debuted on Friday.
The significant quilt hangs above a shelf of new fabric at the store that was previously home to the Koda Bistro. It features a pair of elephants surrounded by Irish knotting.
One of the elephants has green eyes. The other has brown eyes. They represent Nathwani's daughters — Lucy, 11, and Zoe, 9. The knotting is meant to symbolize the family's Irish heritage.
Howard Ludwig says they are going for a passionate niche market:
The elephant has become the symbol for the new store too. The Quilter's Trunk features some 2,000 unique fabrics, 3,000 spools of thread and a variety of sewing machines ranging from sophisticated embroidery machines that cost $15,000 to entry level machines for $129.
"There isn't anything like this in our immediate area," said Lisa Wilberding of Beverly.
Wilberding, the store manager, met Nathwani when she attended a quilting class at the Beverly Arts Center about 2½ years ago. Wilberding was the instructor, and the pair quickly struck up a friendship that evolved into a business plan.
Nathwani bought the building in April 2014. It has since been completely transformed from the former restaurant. The only remnants of Koda Bistro is a portion of the bar that was repurposed as bathroom countertops.
To celebrate the new venture, The Quilter's Trunk will host Mary Fons on Oct. 10. The "sewlebrity" will be on hand throughout the day to sign books and meet with quilters who know her from her quilting blog, books and videos.
Fons "is quite famous in the sewing community," said Wilberding, comparing her notoriety in the quilting world to Alton Brown's place in foodie culture.
The appearance aims to put The Quilter's Trunk on the map for quilting enthusiasts in the Chicago area and beyond. This devoted group of hobbyists often travels great distances to shop at stores that feature unique fabric and other items.
Indeed, The Quilter's Trunk attempts to stock fabrics that aren't available at big-box stores such as Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabric. The store's sewing machines are also high-end and come with an in-store service component.
Doris Barnes of Washington Heights is one of the quilters that the new store aims to attract. She's been sewing for 50 years. When she retired from her job as a computer programmer, Barnes fell headfirst into her hobby. In fact, one floor of her three-flat building is a dedicated sewing room.
"I kept coming by here every day to watch the progress," said Barnes, who was the first customer on Friday morning.
She's also part of the Needles and Thread Quilter Guild which meets at nearby sat Fernwood Park and boasts some 100 members. Barnes said Nathwani and Wilberding met with the group ahead of the store opening.
"I'm a groupie," Barnes said.
Katrina Pavlik of Beverly also stopped by the store within the first hours of it opening. She was impressed with the bright layout, saying the former restaurant has been completely transformed.
"I think they've done an amazing job of choosing fabrics that a lot of different people are going to get excited about," said Pavlik, pointing out several holiday patterns, baby-inspired designs and world fabrics.
Pavlik sometimes makes her own clothes and placemats. Her mom is more of a traditional quilter but that may change with addition of the new store in the neighborhood.
"This is cutting-edge fabric that you would find in a boutique," she said.
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