Business: Cobar Quilt Shop, Cobar
According to its customers, Cobar Quilt Shop is not your average quilt shop. Behind the unassuming Marshall St shopfront lies an amazing range of fabric, patterns, buttons, threads and haberdashery along with pre-made quilts and sewing machines. At the back of the store is a workshop area where customers can focus on adding to their knowledge with the help of owners Colleen and John Flynn, their daughter Sarah Cryer and employee Glennys Richardson.
“The people make the shop special,” Mrs Flynn said. “We get people coming in who can’t get information elsewhere and we are quite happy for them to pick our brains.”
Mrs Flynn started quilting 18 years ago and the shop opened 12 years ago.
“My hobby became the shop and the customers play a part in turning that vision into a product.”
There is evidently a strong thread of sewing in the family and the quilt shop is evidence of this close-knit bond.
“My grandmother sewed everything except for underwear,” Mrs Flynn explained.
“She always sewed, she had a passion for it. She showed me how to sew, the patchwork I learnt myself.”
Ms Cryer also has the sewing gene and helps clients with all their material needs.
“Sarah moved to Townsville, now she’s back here working. She is always busy and really keeps things on track,” Mrs Flynn said.
Cobar Quilt Shop clients come from many places including Broken Hill, Bourke and Orange.
“There is even a lady that takes her holiday and travels via Cobar from Qld to WA.”
The secret to success for this western NSW gem is their valued customer service and the excellent range and quality of products. They are also accessible for customers, with ample street parking available and an online store.
“Our clients are patchwork and quilting enthusiasts – anyone with a passion for these things,” Mrs Flynn said.
“We do workshops and offer a quilting service. We have classes, four regular classes a week doing patchwork, sometimes children’s clothing. If we can do it, we are more than happy to pass it on. We also have party nights once a month and Christmas parties.”
Fabric is purchased from reliable sources to ensure that customers have the best quality from which to craft their masterpieces.
The Cobar Quilt Shop also serves many clients through its website, which features a blog and tutorials to make a range of items including a pencil case, box basket and wall hanging.
“We’ve sold heaps to New Zealand and the USA. Fabric is cheaper there but if they can’t get it, they come to us. It’s important to offer something that is going to be good quality and long-lasting.”
Mrs Flynn attends many different events to showcase the shop and their range of products.
“I go to shows, quilt exhibitions, ag expos and field days. It works well because I know that I can go away and Sarah is going to do what’s needed. Sarah is very busy, she keeps me on track.”
Mrs Flynn recently attended Quiltopia, an international quilt show held for the first time in Australia.
The business is very charity-minded and donates to a range of causes.
“We give away a lot of quilts to different organisations for people in need,” Mrs Flynn explained.
While they have previously used traditional advertising in the local newspaper and in specialist publications, these days, Cobar Quilt Shop’s reputation speaks volumes.
They have expanded into bigger premises and won a host of awards over the years for retail, specialty business marketing and most outstanding business at the Cobar Business Awards.
Mrs Flynn is pleased with the recognition and hopes to continue growing the business in the future.
“We have to work hard for it. I do a lot of travelling, If I could have advice, I probably would have liked to do it earlier but I was determined to put my whole self into it.”