Sandy Votaw of Pasco is saying goodbye to the fabric and sewing machine business she built one bolt at a time during the past 30 years.
And while the name and location won't change, after June 30 there will be new faces operating Sandy's Fabrics and Machines in Kennewick.
"Ever since I started this business, I've never had the attitude that I have to go to work. I love it, even though I've worked six days a week for 30 years," she said. "I'll miss the people most of all. My customers have become like family over the years."
Her husband, Frank, will be joining her in retirement too, although he readily said it's always been Sandy's business.
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"I only help out," he said.
He began working in the shop 16 years ago after retiring from his job as transportation manager for Westinghouse Hanford.
"I wanted to hang out with Sandy," he said.
Sandy began the business in 1983 with a small amount of fabric in the corner of another sewing shop. Two years later, she moved into a larger shop, albeit just 500 square feet.
"That was in Towne Square in Kennewick," she said. "We had fabric everywhere. Women would use the restroom and come out with a bolt of fabric to buy tucked under each arm."
Sandy's Fabrics would relocate three more times, but she always kept the business in Kennewick. The move to Highland Center in 1984 was followed by Marineland Village in 1993 and finally to the store's present site, 24 N. Benton St., in 2006.
"With each move, Sandy's became bigger," she said. "This store is 7,500 square feet, with another 5,000 square feet in back that we're not using."
The Votaws said they had considered retiring and shuttering the store for several years. Finally in January, at a sewing machine convention, Frank told longtime friends Ed and Karen Jarrett of Bend, Ore., that this was it. They were closing.
"They actually had the 'Going out of business' signs printed," Karen Jarrett said. "They're in the back room right now. But Ed convinced them not to do anything before we had a chance to talk."
The Jarretts have owned fabric, sewing and embroidery machine businesses for 21 years in Bend and Klamath Falls. Several years ago, the Jarretts consolidated their stores into one -- Morrow Sewing & Vacuum Center in Bend. And now they own Sandy's Fabrics and Machines and its building.
The Jarretts plan to keep their Bend location and split their time between the two stores, spending part of each month in the Tri-Cities.
"We don't plan to make any drastic changes," Karen Jarrett said. "I'm big on education, so we'll likely add more classes and reinstate the annual November event, which included workshops, trunk shows and lots of demonstrations."
Sandy Votaw doesn't intend to lay down her shears, though. Retirement will give her more time to sew.
"We'll do some catching up around home too. Frank doesn't know it, but I have a 'to do list' with his name on it. His fishing may have to wait," she joked.
The Votaws also look forward to spending time at their cabin near Dayton, yet they intend to visit their former store.
"It's in our blood," she said. "I won't be a stranger here."
As a way to say farewell to their longtime customers, the Votaws contacted their sewing machine factory representatives and set up a week of free classes. One designer, Anita Goodesign, even shipped two big trunks of the latest machine embroidery designs -- complete with samples.
"It's a special week for everyone," Karen Jarrett said. "It's all about getting Ed and I acquainted with the customers and a time for Sandy and Frank to say goodbye."
The class schedule is:
w Today -- Educator Mag Covalt of the Jenny Haskins Co. will demonstrate fabric stabilizers, quilting and embroidery designs either from 9 a.m. to noon or 2 to 5 p.m.
w Tuesday -- Janet Ellsworth will demonstrate machine embroidery and discuss the new Embroidery and Platinum clubs from 9 a.m. to noon.
Rita Guzzard of Spokane will demonstrate appliqu and quilting in the hoop from 1 to 3 p.m.
w Wednesday -- Learn how to embellish quilts, accessories and ready-to-wear clothing with rhinestones using Artistic Crystals & Software either from 9 a.m. to noon or 2 to 5 p.m.
w Thursday -- Zundt Embroidery designs and projects trunk show from 9 a.m. to noon.
Brothers Make-it-Take-it project using a camera-enhanced sewing machine from 1 to 5 p.m.
w Friday -- Pfaff Make-it-Take-it project using the company's new Performance sewing and embroidery machine either from 9 a.m. to noon or 2 to 5 p.m.
w Saturday -- Husqvarna Viking Make-it-Take-it project using a Designer Diamond Deluxe machine.
Space in each class is limited. Preregistration is required. Call 585-4739.
w Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org