Jackie Swainson holds up a bolt of fabric in her shop south of Sylvan Lake as her granddaughter Grace Allred looks on. Swainson recently opened the store Nuts For Bolts etc. in a barn on on her rural property.

Going nuts for fabrics, in a barn

There are plenty of farm gate retailers in rural Central Alberta.

There are plenty of farm gate retailers in rural Central Alberta.

But none offer the products that Jackie Swainson and her daughters do.

The trio recently opened Nuts for Bolts etc. in a barn south of Sylvan Lake. There, visitors will find a selection of higher-end fabrics and other products.

“We’ve sort of built an upscale fabric boutique, is what we’ve done,” said Swainson.

Sourced from companies in the United States, the fabrics at Nuts for Bolts etc. include designer products like high-end cottons.

“They’re fabulous fabrics,” said Swainson. “They’re very high quality.”

It was her own quest for designer fabrics that planted the seed for the business about three years ago. Frustrated by how costly it was to ship fabrics in from the United States, Swainson decided to set up a company that could buy on a wholesale basis.

With the help of her adult daughters Jessica Swainson and Jen Davis — whom she describes as her “creative consultants” — Swainson began buying in bulk and reselling online. Shipping to buyers as far away as Sweden, Australia, England and Japan, the home-based business soon outgrew Swainson’s home.

“It just got to the point where my basement was full.”

The idea of running their own shop appealed to Swainson and her daughters. Doing so on their country property seemed a good way to avoid the high cost and regulations associated with an urban store.

“This way, it’s more of a destination and we control our own hours,” said Swainson.

She and her husband Stephen built the two-storey barn, with Nuts for Bolts etc. occupying the approximately 1,500-square-foot ground floor. A separate business operated by Stephen uses the second level.

Open since July 10, the store sells the same fabric products as its online predecessor. But it also carries fashion jewelry from Carolee New York, as well as custom sewing like blankets and quilts, and paper products and notions.

“Just a bunch of stuff that we like,” summed up Swainson.

So far, she said, customer response has been positive. And demand should grow come fall and winter.

Swainson even plans to offer courses on sewing topics in her barn.

“We’ve built the space so that all the shelves and all the display cabinets can be rolled off the floor, and the tables expanded into a big long table.”

Nuts for Bolts etc. is currently open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with customers able to book appointments outside those hours by calling 403-588-2445.

Information about the store, including directions to get there, can be found on its website at www.nutsforboltsetc.com.


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