Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Eulogy for My Favorite Fabric Shop

Say it ain't so...

With the end of October last year came the very, very sad announcement that Mill End Textiles, a local chain of  fabric outlets in the upper Great Lakes region, is closing for good. The rumor mill has it that the stores will be completely closed by February. To that end, please indulge me in a little bit of public grieving.

Oh, Mill End. What shall I do without you in my life? You were the first fabric shopping experience I ever had when I was 14 years old and needed cotton shirting for my first sewing project in Clothing Tech class at Johnson High School. I got the fabric for my first monstrosity of a pagoda-sleeved calico dress from your hallowed aisles. Since then, at least half of my historical dresses have come from Mill End.

You were always there. When I needed a couple yards of fabric to make up a little girl’s pinafore for a museum in Oregon, your stacks of flat-fold calicos were like the Promised Land. Whenever I needed a silk remnant for a lining, you were there. You were better than any therapist has been or could be for me. Your employees were ever-patient while I dithered over the contrasting fabric for my wrapper. They celebrated with me when I found the acorn fabric, they ooh-ed and ahh-ed with me over the Empress gown fabric, they agreed that that red and green paisley was just so ugly it was beautiful. They turned a blind eye on the quiet evenings when I laid out a variety of silks to take pictures to send to friends for opinions and further pondering. And whenever Joanns or Hancock let me down, you welcomed me back with open arms and said, “It’s alright. Have a coupon. And all calicos are 50% off this month.”

Do I even need to mention the convenience (and inconvenience) of your location just a stone’s throw from work? And yes, though SR Harris will step up to fill the large Mill End-sized hole in my heart, there will still be no beating the convenience and proximity.

At least I have your massive, massive fabric sale to console me. But I shall always regret you.

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