Recently, I discovered what must be one of South Florida’s biggest sewing secrets.
The Sunshine Sewing and Quilting is squirreled away in the center of an industrial park in Margate. This shop is hidden so well that I literally drove pass it twice before actually locating it.
Once I found the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting, I was amazed at how beautiful it was inside. The 6000 square foot space was amazing. From the moment I walked through the door, I was amazed at the spaciousness and the broad range of offerings available there.
A Bit of History
Faye Nicoll had absolutely no idea that she would one day own the second largest sewing and quilting shop in the entire state when she and her family moved to South Florida from New York in 1995.
Faye, who had been sewing since she was in middle school, was in the market for a new sewing machine when she happened upon one at a sewing and quilting exhibition and show at the Broward County Convention Center.
She wasn’t in the building more than ten minutes when she saw the machine of her dreams – a Janome. Rather than haul it around all day, she asked the vendor to hold one for her and promised to pick it up at the end of the day. That seemingly innocent chance encounter was the beginning of it all.
As it turned out, the vendor was actually the owner of the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting, a very small 800 square foot space that sold Janome sewing machines and sergers exclusively.
Faye began a friendship of sorts with him and frequented his tiny store for service and to purchase supplies and accessories for her Janome. A few years later, Faye wanted to upgrade her original sewing machine.
Quite naturally, since she had such a wonderful working relationship with this gentleman – one of only two authorized Janome dealers in the county – she purchased her new machine from the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting as well.
Just a few days later, Faye received a letter from Art, Sunshine’s owner, stating that the shop was closing.
She was dismayed by the news, and shared her distress with her husband, Richard, who suggested she buy the shop.
At the time, Faye was recovering from a chronic health challenge and in her opinion, in no way ready to take on such a responsibility. What began as an outing for lunch with a friend ended up as a major turning point in her life.
While dining, Faye told her friend about Sunshine’s imminent closing and Richard’s suggestion that she buy it. To Faye’s surprise, her friend agreed that buying the business was a great idea.
On the way home, Faye decided to drop in on Art to ask if he was serious about selling the store. He immediately took her into the rear of the shop, and opened all his books on the spot, making sure Faye had a clear idea of where the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting stood financially.
They agreed on a selling price and shook hands to seal the deal. That was a Saturday afternoon. Monday, the legal paperwork was initiated and the deal was done. Suddenly, Faye went from loyal customer to business owner.
In just three short weeks, claustrophobic Faye discovered that the tiny space was almost literally closing in on her. She noticed a larger space just three doors away in the same strip mall was vacant.
She contacted the landlord about moving. When he agreed to her one request – that the lavatory be upgraded – the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting instantly had fifty percent more space. Faye gradually added more inventory to Sunshine’s offerings and began making and designing customized quilts for her growing number of customers.
Just two short years later, as the world was celebrating the new millennium, Sunshine Sewing and Quilting was rapidly outgrowing its quarters. The store moved to a 4400 square foot space and added fabric to its offerings.
For the first couple of months, the newly relocated, much larger Sunshine Sewing and Quilting looked like an empty football field. In no time, however, the once empty store rapidly filled up with more than 3000 bolts of fabric and an expanded inventory of sewing and quilting supplies.
Faye was also designing more and more quilts and producing original quilt kits for sale. Her original quilt designs and patterns were so unique several of them have been featured in American Quilter magazine.
Around this same time, Sunshine also started offering quilting classes for its existing clientele as well as beginning quilting classes for people who had never before tried machine quilting.
One day, a client inquired about purchasing Judaic themed fabric for her quilts.
As it turned out, when Faye attempted to order this specialty fabric she learned that the choices were limited, largely because the suppliers did not believe there was a market for such specialized merchandise.
That’s when Faye went to work and started designing her own line of Judaic fabric patterns. At first, she designed just a few patterns to satisfy the immediate need. She increased her offerings of original Judaic fabric using a digitizer, and software as well as software from Corel, Electric Quilt 7 the Artistic Sewing Suite.
As word spread and demand for Faye’s original designs increased, a brand new fabric production company was born. Today, Faye Nicoll Judaica Designs is one of the best known sources for Judaic themed fabric in the world.
With the inclusion of her own expanding line of Judaic fabric, fabric from other sources, original quilt designs and patterns, classes and the complete line of Janome high end sewing machines, 4400 square feet simply wasn’t enough space. By 2007, Sunshine Sewing and Quilting had once again outgrown its quarters and another move was in the works.
The Dawning of a Brand New Era
Considering the amount of work that takes place at Sunshine Sewing and Quilting, a warehouse size space was definitely in order. The move to the Banks Business Park was a perfect solution.
The 6000 square foot facility is ideal. It is divided by movable walls and furniture into several different highly functional areas.
As if that isn’t amazing enough, I was even more impressed with Faye’s talents when she revealed that she designed the incredibly functional fabric display and storage cases which are all on casters, making them easy to move about whenever the need arises.
A Walk Thru Florida’s Second Largest Sewing and Quilting Store
When you walk in, on of the first things that meet your eye are beautiful quilts hanging from the ceiling and row upon row of fabric.
Sewing and quilting supplies, stabilizer and two racks of sewing and quilting books surround the one and only sales counter.
A cutting table is located near the front door. Janome sewing machines are located on one of the few stationary display tables near the front of the store.
A stroll through the store reveals several racks of threads and hard to find sewing and quilting supplies.
During my stroll through Sunshine, I couldn’t help but stop and browse through some of the great fabric bolts she had on display as well as express my delight at finding things that I, a non-quilter, have only been able to find in very limited supply – like a wall filled with many different types of purse handles and hardware.
In another area, I found dozens of mass produced kits for quilt projects designed for people of all skill levels as well as limited edition quilt kits featuring Faye’s exclusive designs.
There is a very large Artistic quilt frame near the Judaica display area.
This is the section of the store where one can find Judaica quilting kits as well as finished Judaic quilted projects ready for immediate sale; an entire line of Judaic themed fabrics; frames designed by Faye for displaying large and small Judaic themed quilt projects and even coffee mugs featuring replicas of some of Faye’s original fabric designs.
The classroom/work area is located in a section that might easily be overlooked by the casual browser.
It is so large and spacious that many people who love sewing or quilting would envy. The day I visited, Faye and her staff were preparing for a class.
Impressive quilt projects in progress were hung on one of the movable frame walls while others, in various states of completion, were on the work tables, waiting for the students’ arrival.
She points out that she has observed that her younger students are more interested in making what is referred to as ‘modern’ quilts, which require much less piecing and lots of topstitching and embellishing.
A Real Family Affair
Sunshine Sewing and Quilting is truly a family business.
Faye, who was born in Poland and raised in New York, shared that all of the work she does with Judaica crafts and Judaic themed quilts and fabric is dedicated to the memory of her parents Joseph and Syma Fefer, and her older brother, Alex.
All three of them were survivors of the holocaust. Her parents died many years ago, but Alex, who Faye was very close to her entire life, passed away in 2011.
Faye’s husband, Richard, gets all the credit for building the fabric display cases that Faye designed as well as making repairs to all of the sewing machines brought in for servicing.
Their daughter, Jennifer, is the brains behind Sunshine’s marketing and online presence.
A business this size cannot operate successfully with just three full-time staffers, however. To fill the need, for additional support, ten part-time associates round out Sunshine’s staff.
It’s easy to get lost in this massive sewer’s paradise. Even a non-quilter like myself would love just being in the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting because of all that it offers.
The one and only drawback is also its greatest asset. Because the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting is the only retail space in an industrial park, it is very difficult to find.
The only way new customers learn that this magnificent resource even exists is through word of mouth or by stumbling across the website while surfing the web.
There is no sign on the street to let passersby know that its there. Once you find it, however, you will definitely be back.
I have no doubt that if more people knew such a great sewing and quilting store was there, you might just have the first case of gridlock in the Banks Business Park.
I believe anyone who is the least bit interested in machine quilting would absolutely love this store.
The space is massive, but very well organized. The staff is welcoming, very friendly and extremely helpful.
Although I experimented with machine quilting several years ago, I must admit, after seeing all that the Sunshine Sewing and Quilting has to offer, I just might be lured into giving it another try.
One thing for sure… I will definitely return, not only to review the many top of the line Janomes in the Sunshine inventory, but also as a customer.