With pleasure, the VDTA•SDTA names Close to Home Sewing Center the July Independent Dealer of the Month. Close to Home Sewing Center operates three stores in the New England region: Glastonbury, Orange, and Southington, Connecticut. They employ a total of 38 staff members and attend the VDTA•SDTA Convention regularly. Close to Home has won numerous awards from industry sewing machine companies, and in 2014, owners Marilyn and Ron Gattinella were inducted into the VDTA Hall of Fame.
Since its establishment in 1982, Close to Home has been a family-owned and operated business. Marilyn and Ron founded the business and were joined by sons Marc and Paul and daughter Denise, though Denise now lives in the Salt Lake City area. Together, the Gattinella family works together for greater buying power, which they pass on to customers.
The original Close to Home location in Glastonbury opened as a small quilt shop, though after one year, business was booming and Ron quit his teaching job to work at the store with Marilyn. They expanded and began carrying BERNINA sewing machines, and a few years later took on the Baby Lock, Brother, Janome, Vi king, and Singer brands.
Today, all three locations carry quilting fabrics, sewing and quilting notions, batting, patterns, machine accessories, AccuQuilt products, sewing machines, multi-needle embroidery machines, longarms, and two of the locations also carry vacuum cleaners and accessories plus offer service and maintenance. Vacuum brands at these stores include Dyson, Miele, Riccar, and SEBO.
At Close to Home, classes are an integral part of the business for all ages, and include sessions like A Novel Approach for using novelty fabrics, Quick Quilt: Yellow Brick Road, Embroidery Club, Free Sew Days old-fashioned "bee," and more. Prices of these classes range from FREE to around $50.
Events are also offered through the year, some in-house and others at a large venue central to all three stores. Upcoming events at Close to Home for 2017 are Hope Yoder's Sip and Sew Tea Party, Husqvarna Viking Jean-ious Studio Event, and Row-by-Row 2017.
Most recently, the business has started producing their own videos. Their most popular video series new each month, "Sew What's Happening at Close to Home," highlights an employee from each store, customers from each store, and gives updates on events and classes. Also, the staff are creating a library of instructional videos they refer to as "Sew How-Know How" available on the Close to Home website and YouTube.
Each Close to Home store values volunteerism, and throughout the year makes quilts for various shelters, bed shirts and pillows for hospice units, caps for newborns in hospitals, Quilts of Valor, along with participating in local food drives.
The Close to Home philosophy about taking care of customers is rather simple: Do whatever it takes to make the customer happy. Each employee embraces their responsibilities to the customer, and each owner their responsibilities to giving employees the proper tools, a cooperative and growth-oriented environment, and having fun! For advice to other independent retailers, Ron makes one suggestion for maintaining and growing a business: "Someone has to work on the business and not in it."
Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional & SQE Professional, July 2017