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“KickAss” In Small-Town Manitoba

It’s not very often that city people will take a two-hour drive out to the country for the purpose of shopping. Some might call it “the middle of nowhere,” but people flock there, including some Winnipeg shoppers. Their destination? The KickAss Country Store, located in the village of Plumas.

If you’re an experienced quilter you may already have heard of it. Dedicated quilters, and sometimes those who are just interested or curious, love to browse through this unique place. I fit into the latter category, for I’m not a quilter, but I did find this store well worth a visit. And for those who love to quilt or sew, the place is a wonder. “All that exciting fabric is enough to make your head explode,” said one customer on her first trip there.

The KickAss Country Store began life about 1996, as an online-only store. At the time, owners – Wayne and Carol Wright – wanted to help quilters who could not easily access big-city quilting stores to obtain the supplies they had seen in magazines. Carol, a quilter herself, was trying to find a source for quilting supplies, and realized there were probably others in the same position. The Wrights decided that an online store was the way to start such a business, and they began by operating out of their home in Plumas, with www.canadian quiltshop.com as their website. At the time, Carol said, it was probably the only online quilting site in Canada.

The online business was a success, but customers often came to their house too, and besides, Carol says, “There wasn’t much room left for living in our house.” So, about five years ago, the Wrights rented an empty building on the main street of Plumas and set up their business there. It wasn’t long before the number of in-store customers increased, so that today about two-thirds of their business is from the store, and about one-third from online customers. People come from near and far, including some from as far away as the Maritime provinces.

The Plumas store stocks a wide variety of fabrics, batting, patterns, stencils, quilt kits, notions, magazines and books. You name it; if it has to do with quilting they have it – from bed quilts to wall hangings, from handbags and totes to jackets and aprons. Or, if they don’t, they know where to get it. “It’s a smorgasbord of texture and colour,” said Heather Stone, an avid MacGregor quilter. That’s what I noticed, too. I was particularly intrigued by all the brightly coloured fabrics with cats and dogs, flowers and farm animals. It almost made me think I should take up the craft.

Some of their customers don’t quilt, but buy the cotton fabrics for sewing. Embroidery is also making a comeback, and some scrapbookers like to buy the buttons and charms.

Customers comment on how knowledgeable the KickAss owners are, and the high quality of their products. “They keep up with the trends, and they know their stock,” said another of my quilting friends, Antoinette Blankvoort. She and three others had just spent a weekend quilting at their lakeside cottage. And where did they stop on their way home even though it was somewhat out of their way? The KickAss Country Store, of course. “It was the icing on the cake,” she said. “The perfect end to a wonderful weekend.”

KickAss Country Store is celebrating its birthday from September 26 to October 1 with a big sale, so it’s sure to be a busy place that week. Other events this fall include “Quilts for Chemo” scheduled for the Plumas Hall on September 16 and 17. This will carry on the work of Cora Kennedy, one of their former customers. Cora, while in her 80s, produced 826 quilts for those undergoing chemo treatments. Last summer she lost her own battle with cancer, but those at KickAss hope to get the number up to 1,000 with a little help from their other quilting customers.

KickAss Country Store is open from 10 to 5, Tuesdays to Saturdays. Shoppers coming from a distance could give them a call first, at 204-386-2193.

– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba

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Customerscommenton howknowledgeable theKickAssownersare, andthehighquality oftheirproducts.

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