You know that Hamilton in Missouri? No, not a waay off-off-broadway show, but the town, Hamilton? You don't? Well, if you quilt, you definitely, definitely, SHOULD. Because that's where Missouri Star Quilt Company lives.
North of Kansas City is a slightly-hidden gem of a quilting empire in Hamilton, Missouri.
A quilting empire?... Really?
I hear your skepticism. Yes, you. I hear it. But you've obviously not been there, you naysayer! Because Missouri Star Quilt Company has taken over this once-forgotten town and turned it into a burgeoning dream destination for anyone who likes heavy-weight cotton. The entire town is being transformed -- as I type this, I'm sure the cogs are turning -- into the must-see quilting mecca of the USA.
Once you find your way there (yes, keep driving even if you think you've missed it), you'll want to stay. To me, the town is such a huge inspiration. On your drive to get to the main street (no signs in town direct you to the quilting, so just keep going until you hit the old main strip), you see houses that have seen better days and forlorn buildings. You think, "Yikes." Then you see lines of tour buses parked on the side of the road. There's NO available parking along the street. All the seating is filled in the diners. People are strolling along with bags, their noses perusing a map of the town.
Then you go into any of the shops, eat any of the food (especially, I hear, from the restaurant Blue Sage), hang out in the man lounge, take a peek into the behind-the-scenes action... and you totally understand why there are the buses, tourists, and extra parking lots.
To me, this is part of the inspiration. For an entrepreneur, this reaches a certain level of poeticism akin to a pheonix rising from a crumbling town. I would really like to create a CGI of a phoenix with the head of one of the founders, Al Doan. If only I were that talented. My attempts (which were embarrassingly many) resulted in something looking either demonic or like a really hairy bird catching on fire. Yet, it was too funny for me to pass up putting just one on here...
Anyway, I'll cut to the chase. Missouri Star Quilt Company is one of my "must" stops - a place I shoved my screaming, wailing, crying, sick-of-the-carseat toddler into her buckled nest of sweaty safety for an extra 2-hour drive. Sorry, I need to add some emphasis and pluralize.
THE quilt shops.
There are (correct me if I'm wrong) 14 quilt shops. Guys. That's a ton. And all from the same company, so there's no competition, just SELECTION. It's beautiful. Literally.
OK, so I'm far from an expert on this place when placed next to the literal busloads of people who travel from around the world to eat, sleep, shop, and breathe quilting for several days or weeks or however long these quilters marathon for. I've only made two treks, once this week, and once 2 years ago. Here's a short review. I'm only slightly biased because I know Al Doan from those college days gone by. Mostly I'm just JAW-DROPPED in awe at what this amazing, fun family has done with quilting.
Here's what I know. There's a system to the madness. If you start in the main shop, the one in the first picture (next to the burger place), you'll be able to pick up a map of all the stores, see a sampling from each shop (smart idea, guys!) of what they carry, and register for emails and to accumulate points throughout your shopping. You can sign up without talking to anyone at the desk by using touch screens, and then just grab your card from the table. Great system! I believe one of the reasons they are so successful is their ability to blend modern technology and business models with the traditional style and supplies needed for an old craft like quilting. This creates a space for everyone, old and young, who want to try their needles - take a stab, if you will - at quilting.
An added bonus to my trip: I'm unsure if this is a permanent or temporary incentive program, but for every $50usd I spent in one store, I got to chose a charm to add to my free charm bracelet. $30 gets you a bookmark. If participating, you collect your bracelet from the main shop, and choose the charm on the spot. I won't remind my husband of how much I spent here by telling you how many charms I got... But I will admit to hacking up a bookmark to turn into a charm because one does not need that many bookmarks with a sewing machine charm.
And now, to really make this short and sweet:
As a quick summary, this is your one-stop town for quilting. The vibe is a great blend of traditional and modern, and when you're shopping with Missouri Star Quilt Company, you're really joining a huge network that covers all your needs (and wants!) for creating beautiful, simple, and fast quilts that look amazing!
I love herbs & spices, cats, low brass instruments, international relations, culture, traveling, writing, and most of all, my family.