Goodbye to Waechter’s, An Asheville Institution

Remember how just a few days ago I was bragging about the super fabric shopping situation in Asheville?  Just a few days later I got a most distressing email – Waechter’s Fine Fabrics was closing.

The store opened in 1929 as Waechter’s Silk Shop, and the name remained the same until just a few years ago.  It was first located in the Grove Arcade, but by the time I first visited the store, it was located on  Wall Street, Asheville.

My first experience there was with a friend whose mother was taking a tailoring class and was shopping for wool for a coat.  I was already sewing at that point, and was shocked by how much more expensive their fabrics were than the ones I was buying at Belk’s Department Store.  But the store was so enchanting, just like stepping back into the past with the old fashioned fabric meter, and the fabrics purchased being wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.

My first purchase there was navy Pendleton wool that I used to make a blazer.  I also bought my first Liberty Tana lawn at Waechter’s, used for a dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding rehearsal.

I started filling out an online order as soon as the email arrived, but I knew that I really needed to just drive over and have one last shopping experience at Waechter’s, to feel the fabrics and remember all the lovely things I’ve made from their fine fabrics.

And I did buy a few pieces of fabrics for spring – a Liberty Tana lawn print, some striped Italian cotton shirting, and some blue and white Italian linen gingham.

 

30 Comments

Filed under North Carolina, Uncategorized

30 responses to “Goodbye to Waechter’s, An Asheville Institution

  1. It is always so sad when a local store closes. I’m sorry you’re losing what sounds like such a wonderful place.

    I love the fabric you selected! Especially the London print!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol

    I was also sad to receive the email from Waechter’s. My mother and I made the drive from Greenville, SC to shop there many times. I still have plenty of pieces in my stash! The shop was owned by Sally and located on Charlotte St during those years. I had gotten to shop at the Wall Street location once before the shop was sold to Sally. I even (half-)joking once told Sally I would have to come and learn from her how to own and run a fabric shop. I know that she provided consulting for other fabric shops. I am fortunate to have a lovely fabric store where I live now, but it is the end of an era…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked the Charlotte Street location as it still had an “old store” feel about it. Are you still in Greenville?

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      • Carol

        No, I grew up there but have lived all over since college. I’m in the Detroit area now where there is a large and beautiful store, Haberman Fabrics. I enjoyed your earlier posts about Camps Hemlock and Dellwood where my brother and I went to summer camp. They were what brought me to your blog.

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  3. I’ve never visited but know of the shop from Kate, owner of Folkwear Patterns, also in Asheville. How sorry I am to see another wonderful fabric shop closing.
    del

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a loss. I know I was heartbroken when Boston’s beloved “Windsor Button” closed last year. Those old-school sewing stores are getting harder and harder to find.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so sad to hear of Waechter’s closing, and after seeing your lovely pictures, and reading your thoughtful memories, I am even more sad. I’d only heard of Waechter’s about six months ago, when I started seriously sewing clothes for myself. Living @an hour from Asheville, I was looking forward to making a trip up there this Spring. I’ve lived in the greater Greenville, SC area for 23+ years now and have seen all the old textile shops close. Many of those were fabric outlet stores for the factories and back then the home sewer could buy fabulous fabric at a fraction of ‘retail’ cost. I was sewing for my children and home at the time, and it was perfect. I miss those stores too. Thank you for sharing about Waechter’s with us. I really enjoy your writings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa, they will be open for a while, until everything sells, so you ought to go ahead and make the trip.

      My mother and her friends would visit all the textile factory outlets, making a day of it. They would arrive home after dark, with bags and bags of sewing materials.

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  6. I have loved their website forever. What a sad story–another wonderful independent fabric store bites the dust.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. TimeForPoodles&Friends

    We have the same thing going on in Kansas City. Kaplans a fine fabric store which has been on the Country Club Plaza for over 60 years, is closing it’s doors Feb. 28th. It’s always very sad and makes finding great fabric a little more of a challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That is a shame. I figured the writing was on the wall when they left their Charlotte Street location a couple of years ago and moved to that really obscure, warehousey building off Sweeten Creek. I think the industrial location – and how hard it was to find the building even when actively looking for it – were really at odds with the high-end materials.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Morning Waters

    Darn, but good that I live in the West Coast as I would probably have to visit to get some of the good stuff. As it was, my wallet is now thinner thanks to online shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is always so sad when these fabric shops close forever. In my area most of the independent shops closed years ago as I presume home sewing was going the way of the dinosaurs. Then Jo Anns opened all over the place what with crafting and sewing making a resurgence, but the selection was, and is, not at all like the fine fabrics carried at the older shops. Funny the three newer warehouse type fabric shops including the Jo Anns all have recently closed as well! I hate buying fabric online; how in the heck can you tell what you are getting?

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    • The Jo-Ann’s and Hancocks in my town seem to be doing a booming business. I wish them well, but I’d much rather buy from a little guy who selects each bolt of fabric according to the needs of the local customer.

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  11. Sometimes I wonder when smaller stores close down, if they ever tried to sell the business–or if they did, who knew about it? I can’t help but think that there is someone out there who would love to live in Asheville and have a shop like that (along with a healthy online business as well). I also think in some perverse way, these closures are coming at a point in the home sewing bell curve when things might be on a slight upswing, but we’ll all be stuck with online options as our only fabric source.

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    • Jen, the same thought occurred to me, but I did not ask. It seems as if the closing is sudden, but the owner may have been planning this for sometime. As far as I know, the business was not offered for sale.

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      • Alas, sad to see that happen, especially since it would be my ‘fantasy’ business” to have something like that (providing for the magic of an inheritance or wealthy fairy god mother to buy it for me!).

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  12. Sally Hickerson

    So sad to see Waechter’s close. I’m Sally Hickerson, who owned the store for 25 years. If I could I’d move back to Asheville and reopen it! I now live in California with my wonderful husband and it’s not in the cards!
    I live in a city of several million and no good fabric except for a few quilt places. I have a very hard time buying fabric on line. I have to touch it, fondle it, caress it, drape it, smell it and see it it speaks to me! Alas! The world is changing. Thank goodness I have an enormous stash from my years and years at Waechter’s!

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    • Carol

      Hi Sally,

      I remember when you first took over the store. My mother and I would drive up from Greenville and we cherished those visits to your wonderful shop. I never got to share those pictures from my Russian travels with you. Glad to hear that life is good for you in CA. I am also far from Asheville, otherwise I might have been tempted to take on Waechter’s!

      Cheers,
      Carol

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    • Hi Sally, I remember you! I’m glad that you are enjoying your life out west. I do understand about having to actually feel the fabric. I’m the same way.

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  13. Pingback: 1960s Chanel-Inspired Davidow Jacket, Part II | The Vintage Traveler

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