We partnered with 5 fabulous shops in the northeast, each of whom filled a bus with excited quilters and sent them off for the weekend to visit the other 5 shops. It took months of planning to organize and prepare a schedule where each bus arrived at a shop, had time to shop, enjoy demonstrations and a delicious meal before heading off to the next shop or their hotel for the evening. Each of the six participating stores had the opportunity to show off their unique personality and everyone pulled out their "A-game" to make the busloads feel welcome.
This is a photo of my bus as we welcomed them home after three days, two hotels, 7 meals in three states and six quilt shops (including mine)
and they are still smiling!
What you can't see in the photo is the mountain of merchandise that they purchased along the way! This was a shopping trip, an ultimate shop hop, and our bus took their mission to heart. As part of the fun our bus kept track of what the entire bus spent in each store. They collectively stimulated the economy to the tune of ...... on second thought, maybe I shouldn't put the total amount in print. I doubt that any of their husbands actually read my blog, but I do know that several of them definitely don't want their loving husbands to see their next charge card statement! Let's just say that the quilting economy here in the northeast won't need a bailout any time soon.
I know they were excited with their purchases, one woman made sure that she had her fabrics and other goodies, but she went home and left her suitcase at our store!
While the happy hoppers were on the buses traveling to the next shop, my dedicated staff and a few favorite customers who graciously offered to help handle the crowds were busy stocking and re-stocking, straightening the shop and preparing for the next group. Because a meal was involved with each visit and my kitchen is close to the shop, I took care of preparing the food. Lunch was simple, we offered our guests a choice of soup, salad, bread, cheese, apples and cookies for desert. The soups were easy, we put them in crock-pots and it made the perfect fix-it and forget-it meal. Dinner was a bit more difficult.
There were 50+ women on our Friday evening bus and we were serving manicotti for dinner. Heating 50+ servings of anything and keeping it warm isn't easy - at least it isn't easy for me! I put dinner in the oven on low for what I thought was far more time than they would actually take to heat. Then in combination of my miscalculation and being informed that the bus would be arriving early, a mild panic set in. I found myself in my kitchen, in a true Lucy moment. I was literally up to my elbows in spaghetti sauce when the bus arrived. Thankfully Debby stepped right up to deal with our guests and with the help of a borrowed electric roaster and my husband to help transport things between kitchens, the meal went off without a hitch. -but my car is going to smell like spaghetti sauce for awhile.
Speaking of "up to my elbows", you may have noticed, Saturday was Halloween. In an effort to be festive, I decided to wear my favorite costume to work. Not being much for dressing-up, my favorite costume consists of two sleeves that extend from my wrist to just above my elbow and are made out of stocking fabric and imprinted with colorful tattoos. From a distance they look pretty authentic, except for the seam and the fact that they stop at my wrist with a serged edge. I welcomed our first bus wearing them. I directed them to lunch, the bathroom, the demo area and pointed out a few of our unique projects. They all just looked at me. No smiles, no giggles, no excited shoppers. I blamed it on the long bus ride and went off to start the casual demonstrations. After a few minutes one of the older ladies said "Oh my word! Those tattoos are fake!" another one added "Oh, thank heaven, I was wondering why such an attractive woman would do such a thing to her body". It never occurred to me that they would think that rose tattoos on a 50+ year old quilter were real! Then just as they were leaving one of the younger women on the bus stopped me and said "I love your store, I admire your creativity and I think your ink is cool". It took me a moment to realize that by "ink" she meant the tattoos. She was crestfallen and a I lost tons of credibility points when I told her they were fake!
When you hear the rumors, rest assured that the only "ink" I own is in my printer!