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New quilting and fabric shop open in Nitro

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
BEN CALWELL | Metro
Kathy Shaffer measures fabric in her new shop, The Common Thread Merchantile, at 153 Main Ave. Nitro. The Common Thread Merchantile specializes in quilting supplies and premium cotton fabrics. Vintage furniture and gift items are also for sale.
A piece of fabric is being readied for “quilt kits,” which are available at The Common Thread Merchantile in Nitro.
The Common Thread Merchantile carries a large selection of premium, cotton fabrics suitable for quilts or other projects. Fabric can be custom cut for customers.
In addition to quilting supplies and fabrics, The Common Thread Merchantile sells vintage furniture and gift items. Shop owner Kathy Shaffer operated a similar shop in Illinois, when she lived and worked in the Chicago area.
The Common Thread Merchantile opened in July and is at 153 Main Ave., Nitro, across from Diehl’s restaurant. There is plenty of parking in front.

When Kathy Shaffer was living and working near Chicago, the quilting bug bit her. Hard.

Her interest in the time-honored craft even led her to open a small shop in Illinois dedicated to premium cotton fabrics and other quilting supplies. Now that Shaffer, who resided in Nitro before her 28-year residence in Illinois, is back in her native Mountain State, she hasn’t lost her zeal for quilting or her entrepreneurial spirit.

On July 5, she opened The Common Thread Merchantile at 153 Main Ave., Nitro, across from Diehl’s restaurant. It’s a continuation of a similar shop she operated in Illinois.

The Common Thread Merchantile’s specialty “is premium cotton fabric for quilting and other projects requiring good cotton,” Shaffer said. “And I sell the supplies that go along with that, the patterns, the thread, notions, etc.”

Although focused on quilts, Shaffer said the premium cotton fabrics that she sells are also well-suited for those making such things as aprons, handbags and other items made from fabric.

“People tend to think of it as a quilt shop,” she said.

Shaffer’s interest in starting a quilt shop developed in Illinois, where she moved for a job in the Chicago area. While living there, she found some sewing projects online that she wanted to make. In her search for some sewing supplies, she visited a quilt shop near her.

“When I went in there, I started getting hooked on fabric. Then one thing leads to the other, and I fell in love with quilt shops.”

The Common Thread Merchantile is well-lit and spacious, with a multitude of fabrics on display, as well as quilt projects in various stages of completion. There are large work tables that visitors are welcome to use for their personal sewing and quilting projects. Visitors should bring their own sewing machines, or Shaffer has some they can use.

“Sometimes people working at home don’t have a lot of desktop space, and you also need good lighting.”

In addition to premium cotton fabrics and quilting supplies, The Common Thread Merchantile also has a nice selection of vintage furniture and gift items.

“I’m selling refurbished furniture, and a lot of it is vintage,” Shaffer said. “It’s got to be 50 years old to be considered vintage.”

She’ll also be selling jewelry, hand-made soaps and candles.

“I’m going to play up the ‘Merchantile’ name.”

The main focus, though, is on fabrics and quilting.

Fabric shops, she said, tend to attract a core group, or “community” of customers who enjoy getting together to work on projects. Shaffer said the recently closed Sneed’s Vacuum and Sewing shop in Charleston was such a place.

“Sneed’s was a place like that for them.”

With The Common Thread Merchantile’s large work tables, Shaffer hopes to attract like-minded people who enjoy working together on their sewing and quilting projects.

Shaffer said she’s working on offering quilting classes in the future.

“We will be having classes; I’m working with some instructors right now,” Shaffer said. “I’m hoping to present a calendar for people to start signing up for the classes.”

The Common Thread Merchantile is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“And every Wednesday, we have coffee and goodies,” Shaffer said.

For more information, visit The Common Thread Merchantile’s Facebook page or go to www.thecommonthreadmerch.com. The phone number is 304-932-8600.


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