Monday, March 14, 2011

Celebrating 30 years in Berkeley!

I was recently interviewed and wanted to share the questions and my answers!

1. How is Stonemountain & Daughter different from other fabric stores?

Bob and Suzan Steinberg (Stonemountain translates from Steinberg) are the 3rd and 4th generation selling fabric in California. This family business has long time connections for unique and well priced fabrics for apparel and quilting since 1919. Customers come from all over to explore their vast collections of current cotton, silk, wool, linen, knits, rayons, polys, velvet, fur, yarn for crochet and knitting along with an extensive notion, accessary and pattern department. Our sales staff is knowledgable, experienced and ready to help you with your next project! Stonemountain & Daughter is one of the few independent fabric stores in the country with an expansive program to teach sewing, quilting and knitting. Customers have fun exploring our 3 rooms and two floors - over 6000 square feet in downtown Berkeley!

2. What positive changes have you seen over the years in the fabric business?

The quality of the fabric just gets better and better. The artwork on cotton is amazing and the quality of the cloth they are printed on is superior to what was around 15 years ago. We are getting more and more from Italy, as the Design Rooms shut down in New York and that has been exciting to watch the wools and silks come in from Europe. More and more is coming from China which has been a mixed bag for our industry. The prices were very competitive up until quite recently and now they are manipulating currency and the raw resources and raising prices 25 to 50%. It will be very interesting and potentially disruptive to our industry if this is a long term trend. There are wonderful patterns and notions coming from all kinds of individual creative sources and we are able to move away from big corporations and sell many products that are local!

3. Who are your customers these days?

Our customer is everyone! From the person who needs a button for their vintage shirt to the fashion student at The Academy of Art. Our customers are young, old, hip and straight. Our classes have taught a new generation to sew and have helped us to stay in business through these changing times. From the time we are born and put into fabric till our final days, cloth is a main part of our lives and Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics loves this creative connection with it's community.

4. How does it feel to be 30?

It's amazing! When we first opened our doors, everyone was saying "Oh just what Berkeley needs - another fabric store!" There were so many back in 1981 all over the Bay Area. Now we are among the last in our area and nationally. We are blessed that we have been able to keep listening to our community and what they were looking for. Each week we strive to be better and better and that really fills a need all around us. People come in from all over the world and tell us how special we are and how they wish they had a Stonemountain & Daughter in their community.

5. What do you see in the future for S&D and fabric shops in general?

These are indeed changing times and we are doing our best to ride this wave. It's not easy for an independent store to exist in this day and age. We have seen this trend not only in the Fabric Stores, but in video, books and music stores. We hope to hang on and continue to share our passion for finding great fabrics at fair prices. In general, it doesn't look so good as the industry as a whole is a bit of a dinosaur. It's too bad because this current young generation is finally into sewing and crafting - let's just hope it's not too late.