Every quilter’s dream is to own and run a quilt shop. For Ashley Stout, that dream is coming true.
This July, Stout officially became the owner of Stitch N Sew Cottage, a beloved fixture in Kalona since 1982, although its origins as a fabric-cutting organization date further back. The shop serves quilters by offering them a store filled with over 3000 bolts of fabrics, a staff that can answer questions and offer advice, and a service that will complete any aspect of quilt making desired.
Grace Schumann, owner since 2004, said after working with Stout for about a year, she thought Stout could be the perfect successor.
“Ashley was working for me, and the interest she had, the ability to complement what we were already doing with helping out and designing patterns, made me think she was a good fit,” Schumann said. “So, I just asked her one day, is this anything you would be interested in?”
Schumann had contemplated retirement but wasn’t sure how to go about selling her shop. Finding the right new owner was important to her.
“What are your chances of being able to sell it to somebody who has the same interests you do? I didn’t want to sell it to just anybody. I wanted it to remain Stitch N Sew Cottage as is,” Schumann said.
Stout, herself an avid quilter for more than a decade, had been teaching quilting classes at the shop for several years before becoming an employee in 2019. Owning the shop had not been front of mind.
“One day Grace was like, ‘You know, Ashley, you could own this store. You could run it.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, yeah,’ because that’s every quilter’s dream, to run a quilt store, to have your own,” Stout said. “She’s like, ‘Are you serious?’ And I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’” Stout recalls.
Stout consulted her family about the opportunity, and they were fully supportive.
For the past two years, Stout job shadowed Schumann while working out the details of transferring ownership. Through the transitional period, Stout considered what the future Stitch N Sew Cottage might be like under her direction.
“The store will stay the same. The name will stay. We’re still taking the loyalty cards,” Stout said.
However, there will be some needed updates.
“Our first biggest change is a new point of sale system. It’s directed toward fabric stores. We’ll be able to see our entire inventory. For our customer loyalty program, we’ll move it onto the computer so people don’t have to remember their cards anymore. At the same time, we’ll be setting up our Web store, which is something we lack right now,” Stout said.
Schumann agrees that upgrades are needed. “It’s a place I wanted to go, but I was hoping I could hand it off to somebody else to do that,” she said.
For now, Schumann will continue to work in the shop, only now as an employee.
“Basically, we are switching jobs. She’ll work a couple of days a week. I’ll work more Saturdays and take over the worry of the store. She’ll be able to have the fun at the store,” Stout said with a chuckle. “It’s a little bit different, but I’m glad that she’s here.”
As Stout looks forward to living her dream for the next 15 to 20 years, Schumann doesn’t expect her own life to change much after selling her shop.
“I love to go to Florida in the winter. So, to be able to leave and be gone for a little while, that is something I’m going to keep in my window.”
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