The business with the coolest name in town is located on North Railway St., across from the Art Gallery.
I know nothing about sewing, but the name ‘Rumpled Quilt Skins’ was too much to resist, so I dropped in to chat with Linda Freund who, with her husband Gil, has been selling sewing machines and quilting accessories in Olde Town Okotoks for almost 17 years.
“We market to local customers and visitors from the U.S., Saskatchewan, B.C., and northern Alberta,” said Linda. “Each quilt shop is unique, so when quilters travel, they tend to stop at every shop along their route.
Linda, who had experience in quilting and machine sales, stopped in at an Okotoks real estate office in early 2003 and asked about a little old house she had seen at a prime site in the downtown area.
Shortly after, Rumpled Quilt Skins opened at 22 McRae Street, sharing space with Dr. Morris Gibson in a building now occupied by “On Tap” Oil & Vinegar.
“We had 432 square feet that we outgrew in less than three years,” Linda explained. “The Wentworth Building had been a general store from 1906 until the mid-1970s. After that it was an antique store, The Old Country Store, and a bridal shop.” It had been vacant for about a year before Rumpled Quilt Skins moved in.
“This building would be outstanding for any kind of business,” she added. “Without it, we couldn’t do what we’ve done.”
Today, Linda runs the marketing and retail part of the business, while Gil looks after customer service and technical support.
The Rumpled Quilt Skins product line includes Brother and Husqvarna Viking sewing machines, fabric, sewing notions, and locally designed quilt patterns. Its website is www.rumpledquiltskins.ca.
“We also offer classes for those who like someone to watch over their shoulder and guide them as they start out,” Linda said. “Some of our instructors have been with us from the beginning.”
Many were previously teachers, and all are skilled quilters who have made most of the sample quilts that decorate the walls of the store. The samples illustrate the many design options available to customers.
“Most quilters are women, but men have also taken up the craft,” Linda noted. "They generally concentrate on creating the designs and programming them into the computerized sewing machines.”
The Freunds are strong supporters of the Olde Town Okotoks Business Association.
“Having a business in the historic district of Okotoks makes a difference,” Linda said. “In Olde Town, the costs are lower than they are south of the river, and almost all the businesses are family-owned. The lower costs, and the fact that many of us own our own buildings, is a major benefit.
“We like old buildings with little bit of creak and a little bit of smell. That’s the kind of shopping atmosphere and building that our quilters want to come into.”
Dick Nichols writes about business every month in The Western Wheel.