It’s almost better than Christmas morning for these ladies
Donna from Indiana
Hamilton Missouri is a small town of just over 1800 people, there is a lot of farming and grazing land in the area and until just a few years ago it’s primary claim to fame was being the birthplace of that American success story JC Penny.
Now buses arrive at the down on a semi regular basis and travelers from all over the nation and the world converge on this little town and not to see where Mr. Penny grew up.
No these people are quilters, women (and a few men) who are crafters of beautiful things and Hamilton
Missouri is their Mecca because of the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Here is an excerpt from a report from KSHB from 2013 whose video didn’t want to embed .
They come from Oklahoma, Kansas and far-flung locales beyond. One visitor traveled here all the way from Israel, just to meet the woman who has become a YouTube sensation for the hobby she has turned into a multi-million dollar family business.
That woman is Jenny Doan, matriarch of the Doan family, who launched the Missouri Star Quilting company in 2008 with a quilting machine, and a tumbledown brick building in Hamilton’s one-stoplight downtown.
“It’s bizarre,” says Doan of her YouTube fame. Doan teaches quilting classes in short web videos, and in person, for those who trek to her store to shop, and to meet the woman one described as the “Oprah” of quilting.
Their Youtube channel is here and if I had the traffic they had I likely would not be working my night job.
Friday I wrote about some of the husbands who brought their wives to the land of fabric, here’s ours:
Thursday after seeing the Red Sox relievers give away their final game to the Royals and rejoicing that the management of our hotel in KC got the AC fixed and made it a point to be waiting for us after the game to confirm it and apologize for the problems in person the day before, my wife, who works a 2nd shift job and is historically NOT an early riser was not only up early but urging our youngest son and I along so with the goal of getting to the place she had dreamed of seeing ever since she took up quilting a few years ago as soon as possible. I dashed through my piece on the Georgia 6th special election getting it up at 9:13 and less than 10 minutes later we were on the road with a quick stop at a local WalMart to buy a battery operated camera as I had neglected to bring my charger, for the pictures she would be taking.
It took about an hours drive to get there, there was nothing extraordinary about the highway or the country around it, nor the simple left turn off of Route 36 down S Hughes street to South Davis Street. The country was farm and grazing land, beautiful country, with a few places to stop and eat dotted along the way but my wife’s anticipation grew by the mile and when we took that final left turn from South Davis Street to and when we took that final left to West School Street and the first building came in sight her excitement was boiling over.
We drove down that street and saw quilt shops to the right and the left of us finally deciding to park at the final shop and work her way to the main location.
When we walked into the first shop it was evident that this was estrogen heaven, a dozen immensely happy women were inside and my wife immediately made it a baker’s dozen. My son and I noticed a fellow sitting near the door and sat with him for a bit.
He was the retired Steelworker from Pittsburgh who had driven 12 1/2 hours to bring his wife here and his story of her anticipation at every mile they got closer mimicked mine, interrupted only by his wife coming over and asking for a few dollars for the purchases at this shop.
Eventually my son and I found the Man’s spot which we’ve already discussed. We sat back, played some pool and eventually I grabbed the laptop and starting surfing, on twitter the fact that I was at Missouri Star got the attention of several of my readers who were anxious for me to get an in. I had not planned on doing any interviews or work during this trip, I had not even packed my monopod, but when DaWife stopped by with camera it was clear there was a story here worth telling so after doing a quick intro video and lunch at a tiny BBQ place called Hank’s and Tanks (which deserves its own post and will get it on Monday or Tuesday) I headed to the main building to see if I could get an interview with someone at the company.
I talked to a nice lady behind the counter to tried to find someone available but within a few minutes a pair of busses arrived and as with any business the customers have to come first, so I sat down and watched the ladies come in.
They were happy, but not just happy, you could literally feel the joy and excitement as each one came into the door and found themselves at the place they had dreamed of. Their ages ran from the mid 30’s to the seventies and there was one lady, clearly old and infirm who might have been in her eighties, but no amount of age or infirmity could restrain the sheer unadulterated pleasure written on their faces and emanating from their hearts.
As the people at work were far too overwhelmed to even think about me, I started to approach the women inside to see if any would be interviewed on camera. Donna from Indiana who was in charge of the bus trip was kind enough to give me some time.
It’s never an easy job to get a lady to consent to an on camera interview with a strange man in a hat wearing a 18 foot scarf on a 90 degree day and it’s doubly difficult when said interview tears them even for a few moment away from the place they’ve been dreaming about for years. I was turned down quite a bit but a pair of ladies from the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints one from Oregon and one from Utah gave me a few minutes
At this point there was a tutorial being given by a lady named Cindy so there was no prospect of getting anyone so I headed back to the main building and found myself tweeting back and forth with Al Doan one of the founders of the business but unfortunately he was not in the area. Around this time my wife had finished shopping so we headed back to the main building where Cindy had finished with her tutorial and had been given the OK to give a few minutes to the odd fellow in the hat:
It was pretty late in the afternoon when we loaded up the rental with the fabric that my wife bought and got ready to leave the glow of being there still upon her.
There are a lot of things to say about the Missouri Star Quilt Company: that It’s the fulfilment of the dream of Jenny Doan, that it revitalized a small town in Missouri, that in less than a decade it has become the largest employer in Caldwell County Missouri, that the Missouri Star Quilt Company in general and Jenny Doan in particular are, like JC Penny, an American success story. All of these things are true, special and worthy of praise.
But for my money the greatest thing about the Missouri Star Quilt Company is the happiness they bring to thousands of women who come there each month and the tens of thousands who watch their tutorials online and the satisfaction that I and all the other husbands get when they see the sheer joy on the faces of the women they love.
My wife’s photos follow:
Update: The video from KSHB wouldn’t embed so I’ve replaced it with an excerpt from the text of the piece
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