Fabric Attic To Close, Online Sales Continue

Wolf Point’s Rita Hardy will likely fall just short of the 10-year mark at her 224 Main St. location if the Fabric Attic closes on schedule in April.

Hardy opened the shop in the summer of 2009 to add walk-in traffic to her online business in specialty fabrics. Now, she’s working her way through existing inventory, hoping to liquidate much of it before retreating to work from her home south of the Missouri River in McCone County. She plans to continue selling fabric online.
Hardy’s late mother-in-law, Mary, an avid quilter, helped inspire her to begin selling quilting and sewing supplies online as early as 1998, tapping into a growing market.
Hardy remembers thinking, “This internet thing is kind of cool.”
Since then, she has specialized in niche Western patterns and prints and supplies buyers from all over the world.
Asked about the rate of online sales, she said, “I have over 50 orders to fill today. They get backed up over the weekend.”
Walk-in traffic has been considerably less steady and Hardy described the difficulties involved in serving what amounts to two separate, if related, types of clientele.
“You end up having two businesses,” said Hardy. She explained that online and walk-in customers want different things, requiring her to keep two sets of inventory items.
She said her reasoning for closing the brick and mortar location in Wolf Point has to do with the challenges and diminishing returns of the physical location. In short, the online business is more profitable. She felt she needed to choose one.
Hardy currently has one employee in Nancy Sietsema. She expects to keep her on during the liquidation process.
Locally, Hardy sells a lot of blender fabric and ribbon for Native designs. She said she also sells a lot of novelty Western prints.
“I just had two guys looking for fabric with northern pike,” she said. “They didn’t want just any old fish.” It wasn’t Hardy’s first request and she happened to have some on hand.
She attributes a decline in walk-in traffic to an aging population.
“People are getting older,” she said. “Younger folks around here seem to do less sewing.”
The Fabric Attic will remain open for business until the spring. Hardy encourages shoppers to take advantage of liquidation pricing.
“I’ll be sorry not to be here,” Hardy said. “I’ve enjoyed it and I’ll miss my regulars.”