By Tony Hooker
Trisa Martin has had an active interest in quilting for the better part of the last three decades.
Using that love for the art, a break or two, and a lot of hard work, three years ago, she, along with her husband and chief sewing machine repair person, Tony, were able to open Trisa’s quilting and more, just west of Main street in Villa Grove. I recently caught up with the busy lady to see how she’s coping with being deemed a nonessential business.
Would it be a fair statement to say that the pandemic has been devastating?
Yes, absolutely. Very much so, for many businesses.
Let’s start at the beginning. How long have you had Trisa’s Quilting Corner and More?
I’m going on my fourth year.
You’ve been involved in quilting for much longer than that, right?
Yes. I’ve been quilting for about 15 or 16 years now.
In doing research for this article, I saw that you were voted “Tops in the 217” for 2019. What was the category?
It was Quilting and Sewing.
That has to be some sort of validation for you that your hard work is being recognized by quilters through the region, right?
Yes, it is. It was an honor, for sure.
When you’re able to be open, how far away do people come to your store?
I’ve had people come from Springfield, a couple hours away in Indiana, from Peoria. They really come from all over the region.
How do you select the vendors that set up their wares in your store?
I do have consignments. Most of the ones I have, I’ve seen been open and they’re great. They keep their booths going very well. I wanted to have a card booth, because people can come in and find little gifts and they can pair them with homemade cards. We have the jewelry. People stumble in, and I find out that they do something, and I’ll ask them if they want to display their wares. I’m running out of room for crafts because my fabric is growing, and that is my main business. With us being such a small town, I love being able to offer the gifts for people to come in and purchase.
I’m not sure that everyone knows that they can come to your store and find such cute, eclectic gift items.
The one good thing that’s come out of this pandemic is that I’ve had to do things differently to get the word out that I’m here. So I’ve had to post it on Facebook, and then I advertised it within a thirty-mile radius because those people can’t go anywhere and get them. The majority of people have seen them and told me that they would like to get a certain gift, and I would put it in a gift bag and ship it for them. It has worked amazingly well.
I assume that sales have been impacted negatively?
Mine have not. I was terrified in the very beginning, but I have an amazing customer base. We have always gone above and beyond to make our customers feel at home when they walk through that door. We love our customers, and they know that, and they have gone above and beyond to make sure that we can stay here. It has been absolutely amazing.
Do you see the mail order portion continuing to be a main part of your business when you’re able to re-open?
It probably will for some. Some can’t get out as well or they do live a bit farther away and they don’t want to travel. I don’t mind the work, <laughs> especially when it’s just me basically running this place. I was so hoping I would get caught up on my long arming, which is quilting, but it didn’t happen. I was so busy with phone orders and mail orders that I couldn’t get caught up.
Did you make masks?
I made very few of them, to be honest. I made several kits, and I made five masks that I donated. Becky Black is making masks, and I sent a lot of people to her. She comes in and I give her a discounted price on the material she’s using to make them.
Is your material suitable for making masks?
That’s really where a lot of my busy fabric business has come from. Everyone was needing masks, so they wanted to buy the fabric, so I posted it and put it out there.
That’s one of the impressive things I’ve seen during this pandemic. Businesspeople adapting and changing to meet the needs of the times.
My husband Tony has been swamped with sewing machines, because everyone’s been busy making masks and their machines have been breaking down.
It’s sort of like why people couldn’t get flour for a while, because everyone is staying home and baking cakes and pies.
You reopened on May twenty-ninth, correct?
Yes, and the ladies are very excited. The big change is that normally I would provide all the scissors and rulers and that sort of thing, but for now I’m going to have to ask them to bring their own. We can’t have more than ten people, and I’ve added more tables so that people can sit a bit farther apart.
Is there anything you would like to add, any big shows on the horizon?
We’ve rescheduled our shop hop. There are nine area quilting shops that are in on it. It’s in September. We’re all working on our quilts and we’re selling passports for that event.
Are you excited to have open back up and get back to normal?
I am ready to get back to normal. I’m tired! <laughs> It’s been such a different way of doing business that I’m ready for a vacation! We’ve all had to do what we had to do. It’s amazing to think of how everyone has supported our little town. It’s been great.