Historic City News was notified that there’s a brand-new nest in town for quilters: Bee’s Quilt Shop and Studio celebrated its grand opening on August 24. The shop offers a wide variety of quilting fabrics and notions as well as classes and workshops.
The new shop taps into a growing trend in quilt making. While quilting has been around for centuries, the craft is no longer just a cottage industry, and quilts are no longer made only out of necessity. Featuring bright colors and bold designs, today’s quilts are more art form than bed coverings.
“The reception we received was overwhelming,” said Brenda Johnson, one of the principals in the new shop. “People came from all over, and the comments they made about the shop were so positive. We were thrilled.”
While some shops have closed in recent years due to the recession, others are stocking their shelves and opening their doors. The newest shop to arrive on the quilting scene is right here in St. Augustine. Bee’s Quilt Shop and Studio opened their door on August 19, and celebrated with a grand opening event on August 23 and 24.
Quilting since she was nine years old, Brenda Johnson retired as Postmaster in Bostwick in 2008 and purchased a long-arm quilting machine, an invention that has dramatically changed the way quilts are finished today. She originally set her machine up in her dining room, which was quite a challenge considering the machine is 14 feet long. In January, Johnson rented space in a retail shop in St. Augustine and moved her long-arm out of her house. But her growing business soon demanded more space, so she started looking for a larger facility.
Jody Givens, with a background in interior design, has been quilting for seven years, and was hooked as soon as she completed her first quilt. Judy Cook, a retired legal assistant, took her first quilting class in an evening Continuing-Education Program over twenty-five years ago while living in West Palm Beach. Between them, they have made hundreds of baby quilts, bed quilts, tee-shirt quilts, wall hangings, table linens, purses, bags, and anything else you can sew on a machine.
“One day we all went to lunch and started talking about what we would each do next, now that we all had changed jobs,” Johnson told reporters. “One thing led to another, and by the time lunch was over, we had decided we’d open a quilt shop that provided long-arm services on site. We weren’t quite sure how to proceed, but we were determined to give it a go.”
Serendipity and good fortune were on their side, because they say that they found the perfect location, and were put in touch with a woman who had recently closed her shop and retired. She had all her fixtures and equipment in storage, and the women reported that they were able to buy everything they needed and have it onsite at the new location within days. They say it seemed like it was just meant to be.
Johnson said that she heard Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, say that there is an urban legend that a bee can’t fly. Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know that; so, it goes on flying anyway.
“I guess you can say we did the same thing,” Johnson said. “We thought we could start a new shop, so we did.”
Bee’s Quilt Shop and Studio is located at 1690 US Highway 1 in St. Augustine just north of SR-312, between, and on the same side as, Home Depot and Target. Hours are 10:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Saturday, and Thursday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Call at 904-826-4007