What could be better than a precious vintage camper filled with fabric?! Trailer Stash Fabrics, a locally-based fabric boutique housed in a rebuilt '63 Shasta travel trailer is our new obsession. We are so delighted to host this rolling wagon of goodness here at Spoonflower HQ this Sunday, June 14 from noon to 5pm! Today, Gina Allen, the quilter whose 4-wheeled fabric dreams came true in this amazing venture visits the blog to share how this little trailer of wonders came to be!
How did the idea for Trailer Stash Fabrics come to be?
One night I typed in “vintage” on Craigslist and when scrolling, I saw a picture of a cute little travel trailer that was for sale. I immediately thought, “This would make the cutest little pop-up fabric shop, ever!” I texted a picture of it to my two friends and they agreed. The next day, my husband and I went to look at it. A couple of days after that…we bought it!
Which came first, the camper or the concept?
Like many in this sewing community, I like to share what I do with others. I have always had a feeling deep down that one day I would like to own a fabric shop. I own a longarm quilting business, Ginabean Quilts, which I have operated out of my home for several years and I felt like it would be nice to expand into retail and classes. I saw the picture of the camper, it sparked the idea and then it went from there. I was always hesitant to think about owning a shop, because I have two little boys and I want to be there for them. I felt like the pop-up shop would allow me to accomplish both. I could share what I love, but still be there for my family.
Once you decided to make this happen, what was your process for putting your idea into action?
Once the trailer was purchased, we started immediately on converting the trailer into a fabric shop. The very next day, my husband had the inside of the trailer completely gutted. In my mind it was going to be a quick flip, I planned to leave the exterior of the trailer like it was and just up-fit the interior to accommodate bolts of fabric and product. Things took a little turn when we discovered that trailer was going to need more work than an up-fit. It was going to have to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. All total, it took about 6 months to rebuild the trailer. We purchased the trailer in late August and we completed it in February. We set a grand opening date of March and we worked every day to make that goal.
Can you tell us a bit about all that Trailer Stash Fabrics offers, from classes to fabrics?
I wanted to be able to offer products in the trailer that I love to work with and use. I also wanted to be able to offer many things that I love to work with that were not currently available at any of my LQS (local quilting stores). I carry many items from international suppliers, like Liberty of London, Merchant and Mills, Deer & Doe and Dashwood Studios. I also offer items like Nani Iro Double Gauze and Sashiko.
A class sample for an upcoming workshop
Classes are a big part of the shop for me. We have a little something for everyone. Quilts, garments, embroidery, machine quilting… I live in an area with some amazingly talented sewists, and, like me, they love to share their talents. When I look at the list of classes that the shop offers, I feel giddy!
What guides your decisions for sourcing fabrics?
My main guide is me. I want to buy, carry and work with the things I love. I also wanted to try to carry the things that I love, but were not locally available.
Who makes up your team?
The trailer rebuild was a family affair. My husband, dad and father-in-law worked tirelessly to rebuild the Shasta. My brother-in-law, who is an electrician, was a big help, too. I have two little boys who got their hands dirty, as well. And of course, my mom and mother-in-law where always there to step in and help me take care of my boys while I was preoccupied with the Shasta.
I could not run the shop without the help from my friend, Sue Lauer. She does it all. She covers for me when I need extra help, sews samples, teaches classes and is constantly on the lookout for then next best thing.
I also have a great line up of teachers, including Kathleen Baden, who is the best teacher I know and helped change my life when I walked into her beginning quilt class 9 years ago.
What has been your biggest success? Biggest challenge?
I think my biggest success is actually making all of this happen. Starting a business is a huge, scary thing. My biggest challenge is actually making all of this happen! It is hard to balance life and work. I do have to say though, when it is something that you love and are passionate about, it makes it a lot easier.
What is your ultimate goal for Trailer Stash? Do you plan to expand or keep your stash in the trailer?
Shortly after Trailer Stash opened, I opened a studio space. I wanted to have a space where I could have classes, allow people to have access to the fabrics when the trailer wasn’t in use and house my longarm business.
How can folks shop or take a workshop through Trailer Stash?
People can check www.trailerstashfabrics.com for a list of classes and events. When the Shasta is not on the road, they can stop by the studio. We are located at 107A Gleneagles Way, Bermuda Run, NC 27006. We love to visit guilds, so contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see if we can bring Trailer Stash your way! You can also find me on Instagram @trailerstashfabrics and Facebook.
And, of course, if you're in the area this weekend, check out Trailer Stash at the Spoonflower headquarters, 2810 Meridian Parkway, Suite 176, Durham, NC 27713!