COTTAGE GROVE – When longtime Grover Sue Rosenthal retired in June, Pandora’s Fabrics Shop in historic downtown Cottage Grove started a new chapter – under new ownership.
Ryan Thomas, owner of Ryan Thomas Construction in Coburg, bought the building with intention to revitalize the quilt shop and create a “community hub.”
“I think one of the reasons that I am attracted to properties in older downtown areas is because of the character and history,” Thomas said. “The downtowns of America were neglected for a long time. And now, people are coming back. For me, it’s not about making them a tourist destination but also a real, living community.”
The historic building boasts a red-brick interior, with material excavated from the old Cottage Grove Quarry, now where the Hidden Valley golf course is. In the 1900s, the space was originally a knickerbocker and general store that sold fabric, too.
Having first opened over 30 years ago, the store had some work done before its reopening.
Thomas reorganized the backstock, added new bolts of fabric, sewing accompaniments and is now offering tailoring services, something he says is “a definite need in our area.”
“I think people getting involved in any type of creative craft is important,” Thomas said. “Quilting brings in some skill, some artistry. They do it because it’s a passion and they love it – and what you end up with is functional artwork.”
For those who will miss the original business and social hub, fear not. In the sale, Rosenthal passed the mantle to dressmaker Angela Piercy. Piercy learned to sew from her grandmother at a young age, and started her own tailoring business, Revamped by Angelic Styles, ten years ago. “Originally, I wanted to focus on upcycling fabric and clothes,” Piercy said. “But people would stop me and ask for tailoring so often I shifted into that.”
At Pandora’s Fabrics, Piercy will be leading a series of basic sewing and quilting classes. “Sewing is a lost trade,” Piercy said. “I think people can be fearful and think it’s a daunting task to sew. But it’s actually rewarding to be able to fix something or make something you can wear or use. I want to introduce younger folks into sewing, to get that back on the circuit.”
Piercy also says that plans are in the works to start a Cottage Grove quilting guild, so quilters in the area don’t have to drive to Roseburg to meet.
“For me, I want people to walk into this business and have it be like a community where we can bolster, not only people, but local artists and the trade itself,” Piercy said Thomas says that long-term plans for the building include creating the “Bohemia Inn,” a multi-use building with AirBnb’s in the lofts upstairs, a small cafe and hosting different sewing courses.
“Cottage Grove has always had a really good feel, a good downtown and good restaurants,” Thomas said. “I think that’s kind of the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of conversations about how do we house the people here, but also, how to be a place where people can come visit. I think this space has an opportunity to be a part of that.”
Rosenthal, who led the quilting community in Cottage Grove, is “excited for the next chapter.”
“What I’ll miss the most is the relationships that won’t be formed because I’m not there,” she said. “The people who have come to the shop these 35-plus years are one in a million. They’ve added much in the sharing of information and laughter, but as one door closes another one opens. It will be fun and exciting to see what’s on the other side. What an exciting time to be alive.”