We relive fond memories of the fabric store


My girls and I, coupons in hand, a song on the radio, laughter on our lips, hopped into the Jetta Knight the other day and headed straight for JoAnn’s of Edina.  I was reminded of the girlhood trips with my own mom to the fabric store, eager to reproduce the experience for my brood.  It was always nice, peaceful, and a “girl” thing.  How wonderful, I thought, to be reliving this moment as a mom with my own daughters.

Not long ago, I purchased a very basic sewing machine and for the past three months have limited its use to hemming pants, sewing linings in crocheted purses and patching together tee shirts and items from Goodwill to make a few eclectic and hip pieces.  It is all part of our effort to be cool, shabby chic, and green, by recycling just about everything we can lay our hands on.  Since I am “taking the summer off” (i.e. “unemployed”), I have been able to maintain the “cool, shabby chic, and green” label by isolating my children from any other kids who know better.  My girls were excited, I was excited; we three girls were ready to rock out at JoAnn’s of Edina!  I promised to stay away from the yarn…..

Since every one else had the same coupons I did, of course the place was packed. That’s ok, times are a little different but the experience would still have that same special flavor.  In keeping with true form, I hustled all females to the bathroom before shopping began.  I have a very small bladder.  While we were in the bathroom, my youngest pointed to something on the floor, “What is THAT?!” she said. 

“Looks like one of those wood chips they use in landscaping,” I replied, “that must be what it is.”

“Mom, I think it is poo.”

“What?!  No one is going to leave crap on the bathroom floor at JoAnn’s of Edina,” was my practical and wise reply.

“Touch it with your shoe,” came the challenge.

“Okay,” Have I mentioned that I am not one to back down from a challenge?

Seconds later the bathroom was filled with squeals of disgust.  This was not starting out like my childhood trips to the fabric store.

I was pleasantly surprised when my kids chose easy level patterns.  Their fabric selections were predictable – a pretty pink print for the eldest and a rock and roll neon green and black for the youngest – and they didn’t fight about choosing from the sale fabric, clearly marked by the “50% off” signs hanging above the shelf on which they rested.  Have I mentioned that I NEVER buy anything that is not on sale?

The line at the cutting counter wasn’t even that long.  I was reminded of the days of my youth when I first thought about my future career.  I aspired to be a fabric cutter.  Nothing seemed so fulfilling to me – color for the eyes, texture for the touch, scissors that start the process of creativity.  I loved the thud of the heavy bolt of fabric as it hit the table when the cutter would boldly spin it to dislodge the material for measuring.  I reveled in the sharp and slightly grinding sound of the shears as they worked their way through the material – a little like fingernails on a pleasant chalkboard.  It was perfect and there are times when I think it still would be perfect for me.  Poo aside, this would be nice.

After my two fabric orders were cut, the woman informed me that neither of them were 50% off as they were “fashion” fabrics instead of “basic” fabrics.  She had some ridiculous reply about how they can only put out so many signs and that is why they were under a sign that said “50% off” at JoAnn’s of Edina.  I could tell that she had responded to that same comment many times during the day.  While I am not one to exhibit my annoyances, this and the poo in the ladies room were pretty difficult to get past.  Nevertheless, I gave it a brave try.  “No worries,” I said, “I have a 50% off coupon.”

“That coupon doesn’t take effect until next week.” 

“But I got it in the mail last week.”

“You can use a 40% off general coupon that should have also been part of the circular.”

 “But I was going to use that coupon for a craft for my kids for a father’s day gift.”

“The fabric coupon doesn’t take effect until next week.”  A ten dollar, home made shirt turned into a twenty dollar home made shirt.  My fond memories quickly dissolved in a pile of poo on the bathroom floor at JoAnn’s of Edina.

“Mom,” said my little one, “I’m sorry I picked something that wasn’t on sale,”  Ack!  Damn you, JoAnn’s of Edina, damn you!  I quickly let her know that it was JoAnn’s of Edina, not her, that was responsible for our momentary financial crisis.

We hunted and gathered our notions – elastic, thread, lace – all incredibly overpriced, and hidden among the giant aisles of the crafting super store, and checked out.  I was now committed to making a shirt for twice what I would have paid for a store bought version from Indonesia.  On our way across the parking lot, my older girl said, “Mom, we forgot to tell them that there is poo on the bathroom floor!”

In a feeble attempt to get back at JoAnn’s of Edina for stealing my money with their bait and switch, giving my 7-year-old a guilt complex, and smashing my warm memories of the peace of fabric shopping, I replied, “We’ll let them figure THAT one out themselves!”

And while our experience wasn’t quite what I had hoped, it quickly became its own unique memory when my kids laughed and said, “Yeah, let them figure THAT one out for themselves!”