Quilters hopping across the state for Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop 2022
For the 16th year, quilters from across the state and even further afield are traveling across Minnesota for Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop 2022. Quilt stores, including five in the west central region, are welcoming visitors with special fabrics, patterns and deals.
NEW LONDON — In the past, the month of August could be a slow time of the year for quilt shops as families take their last summer vacation and get ready for the back-to-school rush. Thanks to the Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop, which is celebrating its 16th year this month, it is now one of the busiest times, especially for the 52 shops taking part in the hop in 2022.
Over the next few weeks, hundreds of quilters will be visiting the shops, buying fabric, picking up a new quilt pattern, collecting inspiration and perhaps uncovering their new favorite quilt shop.
"People come from all over the world to do this shop hop," said Mickey Zimmer, who owns Sweetwater Cotton Shoppe with her daughter April in Paynesville.
Sweetwater joins four other stores taking part in the west central region of the hop. They are The Quilting Grounds in Norwood Young America, DeAnn's Country Village Shoppe in Litchfield, Heather's Book Nook & Sew Much More in Granite Falls and Paisley Threads of New London.
"It is great exposure," said Linda Lagergren, owner of Paisley Threads, who expected shoppers to be waiting at her door July 29, the first day of this year's Shop Hop. "We are excited, we are ready."
The Shop Hop started in 2007 as a way to bring people to the quilt shops dotted across the state. In the first year, there were 92 participating shops, including Sweetwater, Mickey Zimmer said. While the number of participating stores has dropped over the years, it is still a huge draw.
The Zimmers said Sweetwater, which has participated every year, sees on average 900 to 1,000 customers during the three weeks of the Shop Hop. Lagergren said she saw about 800 people last year at Paisley Threads, which is taking part in its third hop.
"Quilters like to get together, they like to be inspired, they like to see new things," Lagergren said.
To entice shoppers to visit as many stores as possible, the Shop Hop provides each visitor with a passport listing all of the participating locations across nine geographical regions. When a person visits a store, they can get their passport stamped. Those who visit every store in a region receive a special gift from that region.
If a shopper visits all the stores in at least four regions, they are entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card, which can be used at any participating store. Those who complete the entire hop, stopping at each of the 52 establishments, are entered into a drawing with the grand prize being an Alaskan cruise.
"It is a pretty good turnout for the little rural area that we are," Mickey Zimmer said.
Each year Shop Hop releases an exclusive fabric line that illustrates Minnesota. This year, there are patterns with monarch butterflies, fish, loons, mushrooms, boats and other assorted North Star State graphics. There are 36 individual fabric patterns, including four panels and two border stripes.
The participating stores usually receive their order of fabric around May or June, but are not allowed to sell it until the first day of the Shop Hop. Each store also designs, creates and displays completed projects using the fabric. Full project kits — with the needed fabric and patterns for the exclusive store projects — can also be purchased at those premises.
"We compile them into a little booklet, so you get all of them together," April said.
As a butterfly enthusiast, Lagergren knew she wanted to focus her projects, and her shop display, on the monarch. She completed not only a lap quilt and a larger quilt, but also a pillow, runner and even a cross-stitch pattern. At Sweetwater, they designed and completed several projects with the 2022 fabric — from quilts and pillow cases to potholders and a bag.
"Sometimes you get inspired by a color, or the design of the fabric," when coming up with the yearly projects for the hop, Lagergren said.
As part of Shop Hop, the various stores make their own distinct eight-inch quilt block, using the annual fabric. Not only is that block on display at the store, but a sample of the block is sent to the organizers of Quilt Minnesota.
All 52 blocks have been sewn into the Quilt Minnesota 2022 State Quilt. It is a unique expression of that year's Hop, showcasing the diversity and creativity of the various stores.
"I've never seen the same two blocks" created with the fabric, Mickey Zimmer said.
The individuality of each store is one of the biggest draws to Shop Hop. If you want to see what each establishment has created, or purchase the patterns for those projects, you need to visit those stops.
"You could go to every shop in the state and not see anything like that somewhere else. We are all so different," Mickey said.
And because each store is so unique, the quilt shops in Minnesota don't work against each other and the Shop Hop is a celebration of all, said Lagergren.
"We all have our own personalities and they are so different," Lagergren said. "We are not competing, we are complimenting each other."
The 2022 Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop officially kicked off July 29 and runs through Aug. 20. All participating locations are open at least on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the shop," Mickey said.