WELLINGTON — While many store-fronts are facing quiet days because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Beehive Quilt Shop in Wellington seems to be buzzing with activity. Much of that activity is taking place online, with Facebook show and tell events, live "12 Days of Christmas" special sales and product unpacking videos. Customers are interacting with website promotions and Instagram posts, but some of the enthusiasm for quilting, sewing and creative toys spills over in person in the store.
"We've been shipping since long before the pandemic ever came," said employee Jennifer Witham. "It just seems like quilters came out of the woodwork when people started to have to stay home more. Our business went from infant and toddler stage straight to full-blown adult in just over a year. We are crazy busy!"
Housed in a renovated JCPenny's building at 112 N. Washington in Wellington's historic business district, the Beehive Quilt Shop and Bee Creative Toys was opened by Connie Hart and her daughter, Annarose White in March 2018.
Witham said the mother/daughter duo was a great pair to work for, sharing their love of fabric and quilting with every and anyone, in a time when quilting was almost considered a dying art.
The current pandemic seems to have brought back a renewed interest in the home creative arts and the Wellington store is well positioned to supply their customers near and far with all things related, such as fabrics, long-arm quilting machines, notions, patterns, classes, books, Brother sewing and embroidery machines, AccuQuilt cutting machines and dies.
"We have customers clear across the United States," Witham said. "In fact, we had to open up another room just to handle all our shipping needs. Just this fall we also started shipping to international clients, so business is really booming right now. We are kind of a hidden gem in the middle of small-town Wellington."
Witham said many customers are repeat buyers, and gave the example of a person from Las Vegas who found them through another Facebook site and now places a large order for fabric and quilting supplies every month, sometimes weekly.
"She just said it was easier to find everything she needed in one place here and we have some items hard to find elsewhere."
Half of the renovated store, which was built in 1910 as a Gambrill's Department Store before becoming home to JCPenny's in 1934, is dedicated to creative toys for children.
"We really have toys for people of all ages, the old-fashioned fun toys and the new STEM items and SMART games that are so popular now," Witham said.
Quilting and creative toys seem to be the ticket for success for many who are finding themselves with more time at home, at least it brings happiness to Witham, who said she loves coming to work every day.
"It's just a great place," she said. "It’s been remodeled but the main level still has the old-style wooden JCPenny's flooring and the old tin ceiling, and there is a modern mezzanine upstairs. There is lots of room to spread out and look at fabric and machines and dream up what to make next."