Quilted Strawberry Learning & Retreat Center Expansion

Marlene Gould
Quilted Strawberry
Strawberry Point, IA
Since opening the Quilted Strawberry, I have dreamed of renovating the upstairs of my century old building into a learning and retreat center for quilters. This renovation would provide short term stay facilities where quilters can come to exchange new techniques, relax and enjoy quilting.
The Quilted Strawberry is full service quilt shop located in a historic century old building at the junction of highway 3 and 13 in Strawberry Point, Iowa. We offer quality quilting fabrics, quilt classes and long arm quilting services to our customers. Many of these customers are baby boomers that are looking for a way to expand their creativity and knowledge of quilting. We currently offer classes to beginners as well as the intermediate and experienced quilters. By renovating and restoring the upper level of the building we will be able to expand the business to offer larger classes and overnight stays to quilters and crafters. I am hoping to reach out to the Tri-state area and possibly further to offer a retreat area that not only is for staying but learning as well.

We plan to restore the upper level with new windows, electrical service, energy efficient lighting and heating and air conditioning. If possible we are going to try to implement a lift system to allow quilters to transport their projects to the upper level without having to hand carry these items to the classroom and lodging areas. Quilters will be charged a per night rate with special rates if the retreat center is full. We are hoping to partner with professional quilters in order to provide some different techniques and insights into quilting. If room will permit, I would like to have an area for an additional long arm quilting machine. Quilters could then come in for instructions on operating the machine and would be able to rent the machine by the day to complete their own projects versus paying for these services.

When staying in the retreat center my quilting guests will have access to fabrics, project ideas, classes if requested, the ability to complete their project themselves or just plain ole' down time to relax and enjoy the company of other quilters and make new friends. During their stay the quilters can dine out at our local restaurants or cook for themselves at the retreat center.

With the addition of the retreat center generating revenue, I would also have the capability to hire someone in the shop to help so I could quilt during the day instead of at home at night. This would provide for a faster turn around for those customers that don't want to quilt their own quilts. Additional employees may also be needed to help with the housekeeping after the retreats to do the housekeeping and laundry.
I have been "Dreaming" of restoring this space since I opened in 2013. I currently have invested a lot of sweat equity into the business and it is growing. In northeast Iowa we have 10 -15 quilt shops, but not a one of the other shops offer all the same fabrics, patterns, or classes. I would use the "Dream Big Grow Here" funds to put the 10-12 new windows in the building and to help us offset this expense. The building itself has been used for a grocery store, a bakery,a meat locker and smokehouse, living quarters for the baker and his wife, a funeral home and now a quilt shop. To restore the upper level would allow myself and my husband an additional source of income and a chance to meet new quilters that enter my shop - they all have a story to tell and many times that story is told through their quilts.

I have always believed that you can achieve what you dream - you just have to work hard and want it.

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