One door closed and another opened for two local women.
In April, Hancock Fabrics, a national chain craft store, announced it would be closing all 185 of its remaining stores after filing for bankruptcy earlier this year. The company had seven stores in Oklahoma, including one in Midwest City.
The impending closure rattled many employees and longtime customers. Employees were scrambling to find jobs. And customers didn’t know where they’d shop for fabric and materials.
“The customers were so upset, some of them had been shopping at Hancock for 30 years,” said Rella Johnson, who worked at the Midwest City store. “They were asking where they were going to get their fabric and materials.”
Johnson and fellow employee Lorie Schwab believed they had a solution for both problems. They pooled their resources and drew up plans for their own fabric store in Midwest City. A week after Hancock Fabrics closed in Midwest City, The Okies Fabric Stash opened its doors at 5904 SE 15th Street.
“Lorie has always dreamed of having her own fabric store and we just said let’s do it,” Johnson said.
The new store offers a variety of fabric, materials, and sewing supplies. Customers may also see a few familiar faces in the store. Nearly all of the Hancock Fabric employees joined the staff at Okie Fabric Stash.
“All but one of our employees came from Hancock,” Johnson said. “And we’re all very knowledgeable about fabric and sewing.”
Johnson said they plan to offer sewing classes. They plan to start a beginner sewing class in the fall and possibly add more in the future.
The store received a warm welcome Friday morning during their grand opening. Members of the Midwest City Chamber of Commerce toured the store and held a ribbon cutting ceremony outside.
Johnson celebrated her 69th birthday on Friday’s grand opening. She knows opening a small business is a gamble, but believes it’s worth the risk.
“People ask why I’m this at my age, and I say why not?” she said. “I can sit home and die or I can get out and do something. I enjoy watching woman make their projects.”
The Okies Fabric Stash is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday. The store is closed on Sunday. For more information, call 455-5084.