For Lisa Marien, it all started with a building. A 130-year old building to be exact. While on vacation she checked Facebook and learned that a friend who owned a candy shop in her Lake City, Minnesota hometown was moving and wanted to sell her building.
With its 12-foot, tin-topped ceilings, it had all the charm Lisa was looking for and she made it even better by taking down plywood that covered some of the windows. “Now it’s light and airy and has lots of character,” says Lisa. The additional light especially enhanced the back room where she holds small classes and stitches on a daily basis. “I can sew in the back and see who comes in the front door,” she says.
Those who come through that door are greeted by an array of fabrics and a constantly changing display of samples, the very ones Lisa sews in her back room. The original checkerboard floor adds a homey feel and black shelves make the fabric pop. (“Had I known how much lint and dust bolts of fabric give off, I might have reconsidered that black,” Lisa says with a laugh.)
Moda fabrics are a favorite in the shop, which reflects Lisa’s more traditional tastes, and customers enjoy lines by Kansas Troubles, Bonnie and Camille, Sandy Gervais, and Fig Tree. “I’m a little obsessed with Fig Tree fabrics, they never put out anything I don’t like,” says Lisa, who has worked with Moda rep Julie Kehne since the shop opened. Lisa and Julie got to know one another quickly as Julie’s first visit to Pumpkinberry Stitches was during a typically frigid and snowy Minnesota winter—the weather was so bad that Julie was stranded and ended up spending the night with Lisa’s mom.
While the shop started five-and-a-half years ago, Lisa’s love of quilting goes back much farther. She’s been quilting for 30 years and was originally inspired by her mom. In the 1980s, the two would go to fabric stores together and while Lisa’s mom bought yardage, Lisa would buy fat quarters. “I was into more crafty projects—remember Mr. and Mrs. Cow?” she says. “I didn’t want to quilt because I liked projects you could start and finish in a day.” Then she discovered quilt patterns that would let her do just that, and those are the same types of patterns she enjoys today. Pumpkinberry Stitches is known for its myriad kits, many of which feature fast and easy patterns from companies Lisa favors, including the Pieced Tree, Villa Rosa, and the 12-pack quilts available to shop owners via Moda’s site. (Shop owners can find these under the Marketing Tools section once they’ve logged in: go to Shop Programs, then 12-pack Quilts).
Lisa loves every aspect of shop ownership, from changing her displays to reflect the season—the window currently features a skeleton stitching at a treadle machine, with a sign saying “Just one more stitch…”, to sewing samples, to welcoming the visitors who drop by her Mississippi River town. “Fabric isn’t a necessity, so it has to be special and feel like a present,” says Lisa, who folds her fat quarters into stars and makes sure customers always have something new to see. Opening the shop was something of a gamble, but Lisa’s never regretted her decision to leave her previous career. “I quit a good job, bought a building, and gave it a try,” says Lisa. “I’m winging it, and having a ball.”