Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Places to Shop in Lancaster County (Seventh in a Series)

Boy, Oh Boy!  OBIES!

About fourteen years ago, just after we had purchased The Artist’s Inn, I was out and about and needed mustard for dinner. I drove by a shop on Route 23 in Goodville that had an A-Treat Soda sign. I assumed that they would carry food, parked the car and went in. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I opened the door, the little store nearly exploded with bolt upon bolt of fabric. Or maybe it was the number of women busily gathering up their selections that made it feel so crowded. And then there was the (pretty loud) Christian music playing. It seemed all my senses went on overload at once!

I had not only opened the door to a store, but to a way of shopping long forgotten. Penny candy, children’s books, a pop machine, and squished in the middle of it all, a tiny desk with a cash register. That was just in the first five feet!

One thing I was certain – there was no mustard in sight and I was beginning to doubt that I would find any. But mustard was quickly forgotten as I set off to explore another one of Lancaster County’s hidden gems. This was a quilter’s delight. And though I don’t quilt, I can sew and do get “fabric fever”.

And fabric they have – not only calicos and plaids, but some interesting novelty ones as well. Every football team you can name,

every hobby and subject matter,

every kind of food.

Just look and you will find it. One might think the store is jam-packed and crowded, but don’t for a minute think it’s unorganized....I’ve seen people request a certain pattern in apple green and Nan can find it in a heartbeat.

Nan is the owner – she inherited the store from her parents, and her grandparents before that. She officially started working at Obies in 1975.

The store was originally built by a ship-builder in 1830. There’s a huge lighting fixture in the shape of an anchor – it hangs from the ceiling through two stories.

Look closely at the end of the hook to see the mermaid

I recently talked with Nan about her customers. “Oh, quilters are happy people. We’ve met folks from all over the world. They may not be able to speak English, but they know what material they want!”

Seems like quilters aren’t the only ones having fun. Renee has been working for Nan for about 12 years. “I have six kids. When they were young, I practically begged Nan for a job just to get a break. It’s so interesting and a lot of fun, so even though my kids are now older, I’m still here.”

This is old-fashioned shopping on a personal level. You talk, they listen. You both laugh. You explore, they wait patiently and offer helpful suggestions.

Aren't these pincushions cute!

 There are about five thousand potholders – made right at the store.

(Yes, this is where I buy the potholders that I sell at our inn.) Nan currently has eighteen local ladies that sew for her – everything from aprons,

 to Christmas tree skirts,

quillows, and placemats.

And quilts.

Upstairs there are about 300 large quilts in stock and about 60 wall hangings.

Quilts, quilts and more quilts!
Don’t see anything that you like? No problem – they’ll make one for you. Just go downstairs and pick out the fabric.

Since my first discovery, I’ve sent scores of guests to Obies – some order quilts to have them shipped all over the country, others purchase material that they had long ago given up ever finding again, and mostly men go just for the experience. They all marvel at what they find.



Pat said...

I think our group of quilters needs to find this store and visit it....never heard of it before, but I thank you for posting about it here.

Jan Garrabrandt said...

Pat - It's always an experience! And not far from the inn.

Lori said...

This is a great lil store that a male friend and I discovered while staying at churchtown. Neither of us are quilters but somehow got lost in the delight for 3 hours.


quiltingnana said...

I WANT to go to that store

Unknown said...

Last week after an absence of 7 - 8years, I returned to Obies from Virginia to have a new bed skirt made for the quilt I purchased there initially. Although we couldn't match the original fabric, Renee helped w/ me pick out a fabulous contrasting color and went off to get someone to help w/ the specifications. Very shortly back she came w/ Nan looking exactly as she did when I made my first purchases. Clearly, Obies is good for body and soul! Thank you for a wonderful experience Nan and Renee.