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2023 Winner Highlights: Bee Quilting & Such

Bee Quilting & Such in Munster is our regional winner for Indiana!

Instead of letting the pandemic bring them down, these shop owners saw it as an opportunity to learn to weather any storm. Read on to learn more!

Please tell us your store’s story.

The shop is owned by Martha and Jim Lowry and their daughter Meghann LaBadie.

Meghann and Martha previously ran a law office together. Longtime quilters, they decided three years before opening to save all the money from the law office to open their dream quilt shop.

It quickly became obvious that the quilt shop would need to offer a full range of supplies and services, including longarm quilting, classes, and sewing machine service and repair.

Jim was nearing retirement age and quickly jumped on board, attending sewing machine repair certification classes.

Today Martha teaches most of the classes, Meghann runs the longarm, and Jim runs the sewing machine service department. Meghann’s husband is an IT specialist who helps with all the technological challenges presented by a modern business.

Meghann also has three children. Her daughter Claire was the first employee, although she didn’t get paid for several years, and her two boys can be found washing windows, vacuuming, and pitching in on a regular basis.

The shop has a range of modern fabrics and notions and tries to be modern in its approach to all the problems businesses face today. Martha and Meghann don’t do anything just because “that’s the way it’s done”. Instead they approach problems by asking, “What’s best for us and our customers?” which allows them to be creative in all aspects of their business, not just in their fabric selections.

It is impossible to discuss the story of the shop without the pandemic.

Bee Quilting & Such opened in November 2019, four months before the pandemic began. The shop closed in March of 2020 for two weeks before Martha & Meghann got too nervous to sit at home any more (although they each made two quilts in that time). Their point of sale system was equipped to run an online shop, but they had asked that it not be activated when they opened.

In the next two weeks, while most of the world was tending to sourdough starter, watching Tiger King, and learning to use Zoom, Martha and Meghann made lots of phone calls, corrected product information, and got their website activated. In addition, the point of sale company added a new feature called curbside pickup.

Once all that happened, things started to take off. Online orders began immediately. Customers started dropping broken sewing machines at their door — and waving from their car windows when Bee Quilting put the machines in their trunks, all fixed up, a few days later.

Fabric was sold from the large front window while talking to customers standing outside the window on cell phones, holding up fabric samples, and looking at works in progress through the window.

Customers finished quilts in record numbers and dropped them off for longarm services. When things began to reopen in July of 2020, the large classroom accommodated socially distanced classes.

The pandemic really accelerated Bee Quilting’s success and the owners’ confidence. Customers found Bee Quilting faster than they normally would have, because they were searching for mask fabric. And Martha and Meghann’s confidence was boosted because they felt that, if they could weather the pandemic, they could weather the normal ups and downs of business ownership.

— 2023 Contest Customer Comment —

“Martha and Megan are the best at this shop. They have such a great attitude and are
willing to help anyone that comes to the shop. They have such great ideas and
are fun and wonderful teachers in classes. They take the time to work with each
of us and make sure we understand the process. This is such a happy place to be.”


For those who have not seen the store, please describe it.

We are a small shop in Munster, Indiana (just outside Chicago). Our shop is unique because fabric bolts are not on display. Instead, we have samples hanging on the wall that customers can take down, fold up, match up, and bring to us when they have made their decisions. We get the fabric from the back room and cut it.

We also have a fully-equipped classroom. Our customers don’t have to drag their machines and equipment to class; instead they just bring their enthusiasm and leave with a finished project.

— 2023 Contest Customer Comment —

“The owners and staff are amazing and knowledgeable. They go above and
beyond to accommodate us. I love the classes and always have fun while
learning new techniques.”


Please tell us about your staff.

We have a wonderful staff of four: Jan, Sandra, Lynette, and Claire.

Claire is Meghann’s daughter and worked for free for several years to help us get going; we wouldn’t be where we are without her.

Sandra sews samples for us, and our customers have quickly noticed her friendly and helpful demeanor.

Lynette will be working more when Claire leaves for college and her “I think I can” attitude is invaluable.

Jan is a gem: she works any hours we ask, keeps us all on task, puts up with and enables our last minute “great” ideas, and is generally irreplaceable. She even helps us look for things!

Please tell us about any upcoming special events at your store.

In August we will have a ByAnnie trunk show and a full lineup of new classes.

— 2023 Contest Customer Comment —

“Meghann, Martha, Jim, and the rest of the Bee Quilting team are always friendly,
helpful, and interested in what projects you’re working on! I don’t know how
they do it, but they remember their customers by name, and more often than
not will ask about a project you mentioned the last time you were in the store!”


In closing

When asked about the impact of the Local Quilt Shop Contest, Bee Quilting & Such replied:

“The ByAnnie Local Quilt Shop Contest was an amazing experience for us. We began hosting ByAnnie Basics classes this year, and we timed those to begin with the beginning of the Local Quilt Shop Contest, so we would have a reason to ask people to vote. The response of our customers was overwhelming. They came together like crazy, encouraging family members to vote, reminding one another to vote, and helping one another vote. We have never seen a group so united in their determination. It was inspiring and humbling and we loved every second of it.”

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