North Adams, what have you lost? Tala’s Quilt Shop was not simply a quilt shop tucked away in the Heritage State Park but a thriving, independent business for New England’s quilters and tourists and a source of quality supplies, materials and instructional workshops. The shop owner and her staff formed a support network for area quilters in need of advice, instruction and services.
A national survey found that there is an active quilter in 14 percent of all U.S. households. The hobby of quilting ranks second only to golf for per capita expenditures. Not only have the members of the shop’s staff lost employment, but the closure is having a ripple effect on area businesses. The city has lost the rent that the shop’s space generated, there is no longer a need for insurance, heat, telephone or electricity. Customers are not extending their trips to include lunch, shopping or visits to other area attractions. North Adams has ceased being a destination shop for quilters and their friends and families. Local groups and organizations are without the generous donations of supplies, fabrics and completed quilts that the shop owner regularly provided.
The shop’s 6,000 bolts of fabric were a draw for quilting amateurs and professionals alike. A quilt appraiser at the Westfield Quilt Show this spring expressed her disappointment that Tala’s was no longer open. She said that several times a year she and several of her friends would travel from Connecticut to North Adams specifically to visit Tala’s Quilt Shop and have lunch at local restaurants. Not long after the shop opened it was featured in Better Homes and Garden’s Quilt Sampler magazine that is distributed all over the United States. The shop had become known for its display of antique sewing machines and vast selection of fabrics, including batiks, flannels and prints.
The loss of this shop will not only have an impact on quilters but on many local businesses and restaurants. North Adams, you have lost more than a quilt shop.
SANDRA L. HOLZER