Kitty gets crafty about business
A TWEED Heads South business has built such a national reputation that women turn up by the busload to splash their cash.
An average of a dozen buses a month disgorge craftoholics into Fantazia Fabricland on Machinery Dr from as far afield as Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.
Owner Kitty Raso said the tours in buses of various sizes were organised by craft groups and they generally received no warning of the influx of customers.
"Sometimes it's a bit of a drama because it's hard to serve them all," Kitty said, padding about the store in her customary bare feet.
Then there's the regulars from around the country who stock up on craft supplies and fabrics when visiting the region and the scores of locals who are regular visitors.
"You can get anything under one roof and the prices are competitive," is how Kitty accounts for the store's popularity.
The 1500 square metre retail space is broken up into three sections over three adjoining industrial sheds.
There's a shed dedicated to patchwork/quilting, one for crafts and another for dress and bridal fabrics.
And the choice is mind-boggling.
Kitty estimates that in buttons alone they have thousands of designs to choose from and often hard to find items like more than a whole wall full of exact replica fabrics from the 1800s.
Kitty says it's patchworkers who are their biggest clients but they also get a lot of business from theatrical houses and ballet schools purchasing items for costumes.
Kitty founded the business as Regent Remnants in Murwillumbah in 1976 with a $3000 overdraft.
It was an immediate success despite the nay-sayers who warned she would go broke.
After the site burnt down a couple of years in, it set off a chain of events that eventually saw Kitty wash up at her current location where she's now been for more than 15 years.
She started off in one industrial shed which got so crowded as she added various product lines she was forced to expand into two adjoining buildings.
Kitty says some of her prices are so good that other retailers sometimes cheekily buy from her and resell. External teachers host classes for sewing and pattern making in a timber room at the back of one of the sheds.