| Visiting Cotton & Color
Essay in patCHquilt Nr. 47, winter 2000/2001
When entering the shop one is at first impressed by the large selection of quilting books. In a large shelf next to the entrance the books are carefully arranged by topic, which helps to quickly find the desired book among the more than 500 different titels. An even faster method is to ask Astrid or Michèle, who know the content and location of each book.
“When we started out in march 1996 our selection of books and fabrics was much smaller of course” explains Astrid Oberhauser. “The shop was located in an apartment and we had only about 60 bolts of fabric, a few books and notions but a great deal of enthusiasm. The shop grew quickly and in the summer of 1997 we moved to the current location, a former gas station at the outskirts of Riehen and in close proximity to the Beyeler museum”. Apart from the range of books also the fabric assortment at Cotton & Color is versatile. One finds exquisite fabrics of all well known designers and manufacturers: Christmas fabrics, plaids, flannels, fabrics from Japan, batiks from Indonesia and a large number of solids, in total more than 2000 bolts. Many of the fabrics are also cut in fat quarters located in small wooden crates.
Customers are invited to pull the bolts from the shelves and to combine them until the ideal combination is found. Often customers stay in the shop for several hours, select fabrics, read in the books and talk with people. Coffee or tee is being served. “We try to fulfill the needs and wishes of our customers. In the end each customer should leave with the feeling of having received good advise and having bought things, which give pleasure” says Astrid. The diverse assortment and the pleasant atmosphere in the shop made “Cotton & Color” to a meeting place for quilters from the region Basel, and due to the proximity also from Germany and France. “Some of our customers come from very far and tell us how many hours they had to travel to come to us. Such stories and feedback regarding the assortment and the service are the nicest compliments” tells Astrid.
Concerning internationality she recalls a funny anecdote: “Several weeks ago a young woman explained to me in French that she wanted to sew a quilt with a color gradiation from blue to green. My modest knowledge of French was sufficient to help her and soon she started to select fabrics. Shortly later Michèle came and continued to help the woman. They had a lively conversation and I heard the lady tell Michèle: «La petite a tout compris» (The little one understood it all) …
Next to the shop there is a class room. Twice a year a comprehensive program with about 50 classes is being put together and sent to approx. 3000 customers together with a newsletter. Models of most class projects are displayed in the shop.