We recently visited one of the most inviting sewing, knitting and quilting shops in South Florida.
When Lisa Stevens left the nursing profession to open Once Upon a Quilt 14 years ago, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning and operating a shop where she could share her passion for quilting with the rest of the world.
Not only is Once Upon a Quilt a quilter’s dream come true, the spacious shop is a wonderland for people who love to quilt, embroider, sew, knit or crochet.
As one of only two certified BERNINA dealers in South Florida, Lisa serves clients from the three southernmost counties in Florida as well as the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Its proximity to Fort Lauderdale International Airport and a major cruise ship port make Once Upon a Quilt easily accessible to international travelers as well.
She reports that she frequently serves vacationing clients from Canada and Europe who find her enroute to and from their different vacation destinations.
One look at the layout of the shop and it is easy to understand why Once Upon a Quilt is a favorite among quilters, knitters and home sewers.
The knitting room is separated by an overstuffed sofa where customers can relax while perusing the many reference books in comfort. It looks more like a cozy living room than part of a large store with all of the little personal touches that make visitors feel at home.
Lisa even has a longarm quilting frame and quilting machine set up in a room where she quilts for customers adjacent to a classroom that is set up with approximately ten sewing stations where students get hands on experience and training on their new BERNINA and Bernette sewing, quilting and embroidery machines and sergers.
Not only do Lisa and the seven people who work at Once Upon a Quilt teach sewing, quilting, embroidery, knitting and crochet classes, many nationally renowned sewing professionals come in to conduct workshops and classes about two or three times each year.
Lisa even hosts a three different BERNINA Clubs designed to enhance the sewing, serging, knitting and quilting experiences of her clients and provide the support they need to … The Virtual BERNINA Club, All About Me and the Software Sampler Club.
Each of these clubs gives members an opportunity to meet on a regular basis to share ideas, network and learn new skills using their machines. The clubs are also resources for creative ideas and finding solutions to questions that may arise.
These clubs are only part of the support offered by Once Upon a Quilt. Lisa explained that when someone buys a BERNINA machine, they automatically become a member of the ‘BERNINA Family,’ making them eligible for continuous support and technical assistance as long as they own the machine.
This support includes a series of training sessions upon delivery of the machine.
When a customer purchases a new BERNINA, Lisa and the staff of Once Upon a Quilt take time to unpack the machine with the client, making sure all of the components and accessories are included and sit with them while they put their new machine through its paces and get familiarized with its capabilities and features.
Lisa points out that when a client takes their new BERNINA home, they are able to do everything: “When they pick up their machine we immediately set them up for the 12 to 16 hours of training so that we can complettely teach them how to operate the machine.”
The staff of Once Upon a Quilt is also certified to service and repair sewing machines and sergers when necessary.
Lisa recommends that all sewing, quilting, and embroidery machines and sergers be serviced at least once a year, depending upon usage, and adds that when machines are serviced on a regularly scheduled basis, they are capable of providing many years of satisfactory service to their owners.
The superior service provided to clients who patronize Once Upon a Quilt is just one of the reasons the store was recognized as the Best Dealer of the year in the District from the BERNINA Corporation in 2008.
Once Upon a Quilt sells BERNINA and Bernette sewing machines of all kinds to people who live throughout Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties in South Florida, as well as residents of the Caribbean Islands, and Central and South America.
Prices range from just under a $300 for a basic Bernette sewing machine to about $14,000 for the top of the line BERNINA 830 Limited Edition.
Lisa adds that the BERNINA Corporation offers discounts, coupons and special promotions throughout the year, making their machines accessible for anyone who wants to purchase one.
The shop also offers a wide range of notions, accessories, software packages and yarn as well as yards and yards of fabric to make any quilter’s dream come true.
In addition to merchandise and service offered in her shop, Lisa sponsors the Quilt Show by the Sea every other year. Then next show is scheduled for March, 16, 17 and 18, 2012.
She is already in the midst of preparations for the event, tending to all of the logistics, scheduling exhibits and identifying sponsors and vendors.
Lisa attributes the longevity and success of Once Upon a Quilt to four key factors:
- Excellent customer service
- A family history that includes business ownership and management;
- A knowledgeable and dedicated staff; and
- Her hands-on approach to running her business.
She is quick to point out that “you must be in the store to be successful,” adding that absentee owners are almost never successful.
Once Upon a Quilt is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 3404 Griffin Road.
Hours of operation are 9:30 AM until 4:30 PM Tuesday through Friday and Saturdays from 9:30AM until 4:00 PM, with the exception of two weeks in December.
They can be reached by telephone at 954.987.8827. E-mail them at ouaq (at) bellsouth.net or visit them on the web at onceuponaquilt.com.
We would like to thank Lisa for the interview and for lending us BERNINA sewing machines for reviews!