The CARON Collection is pleased to feature one of the outstanding shops who so ably provide stitchers with not only supplies but guidance, technical expertise, and inspiration. We hope you'll support your local shops and browse through our extensive SHOP LISTINGS to find a shop near you.
Amy's Golden Strand in Memphis, TN
(Be sure to visit our Online Class where Amy provides her "Recipe for a Garden Maze Bag"
If Amy's shop could talk it might say: "Whither thou goest, I will go!" Amy's Golden Strand is now settled into its fourth location since inception almost twenty years ago. Its debut was in Owensboro, KY as "A Stitch in Time." Next it appeared under the current name in Longmont, CO in 1983. Another move witnessed Amy opening her doors to needleworkers in Memphis, TN on Poplar Avenue, where it remained until eight years ago. In Memphis, at long last, Amy decided "all systems were go" to find a permanent home for her store. Along with her husband Bob, who has slowly but inexorably been lured into the business, Amy searched for a property to relocate the business to its final home. A house was found and purchased. Renovating it took another year while business went on as usual at the Poplar Ave. address. Since this last upheaval eight years ago, "Amy's Golden Strand" has sunk deep its roots at 3808 Summer Ave. The saga of change, however, did not end there. After three years, an expansion added a huge classroom and office to the rear of the shop. Most recently, the building next door has been acquired, which is currently being converted to accommodate their wholesale mail order business and stitch guide production. This will be Bob's exclusive domain as "Freight Management Department Head." It seems that this title did not provide him with as much incentive and prestige as Amy had hoped, since Bob still insists on being included on payroll!
The backyard of the new structure faces the driveway of the shop and this area has been transformed into an urban oasis of sorts known as "Bob's Park." The original garage received a facade of old barnwood creating a rustic look. The wall of the garage extends into a weathered wood fence and together they form a backdrop for Bob's collection of vintage signs advertising soda, gas stations, hotels and the like from bygone eras. There is a grassy area occupied by a huge oak tree with hanging baskets of plants suspended from its massive trunk. Old wood barrels act as planters, a brightly painted park bench welcomes the weary, enormous wood spoked wagon wheels remind one of the original homesteaders and vines form living garlands on the picket fence surrounding this rural pastiche. During the summer months Bob is everyone's best friend when he fires up the grill and the enticing smell of succulent foods beckons as soon as the shop is closed for the day.
After all the repeated cycles of settling in and then packing and moving again, there is some irony in the fact that Amy now finds herself taking her business on the road a good portion of the year as an itinerant needlework instructor. She is much in demand to conduct workshops at other stores around the country where she teaches creating custom stitch guides (she calls them recipes) for painted canvas.
Like many a stitcher, Amy learned needlepoint from her mother who, as the wife of an Air Force General, spent much time traveling with him. She was devoted to this pastime which she found a perfect activity to engage in while in transit. Though Amy learned to stitch at age 8, this hobby lost out to competition from horses and later, boys. In college it was resurrected but less than wholeheartedly. Inspiration struck only when Amy was motivated to make a gift for a beau. Not until Amy was in her twenties was her interest truly renewed, while working part time in a needlework store known as "The Stitchin Post" owned by Pat Embry in Nashville, TN.
In 1978 Amy moved to Kentucky where she found herself in a job she did not enjoy. For pleasure and personal satisfaction, she turned to her needlework projects. After wrestling in her own mind with her career choice, Amy confided in family and friends who encouraged her to open her own needlework store. Her mother was especially supportive, Amy recalls with gratitude. In addition to her increasing passion for stitching, this venture made sense from another standpoint. There were no local stores that had an inventory of threads or other supplies worth mentioning. Amy was able to stock up only when she visited family and friends back in Tennessee.
With an initial investment of $6000 Amy opened "A Stitch in Time" in a tiny space and with meager inventory. Of this first retail experience she recounts, " I practically had to drag someone into the shop and teach him or her how to stitch to have a customer." Along with Amy's persistence and each new customer's loyalty, the reputation of the shop grew by word-of-mouth. As she had started on such a small scale with low rent, Amy allowed herself the freedom to experiment and make mistakes, which greatly abetted her learning curve. Eventually she built up a wonderful clientele and sold the business to two employees after four years.
By the time Amy opened her Memphis shop, she had a firm foundation of stitching skills and business experience under her belt. Much of what she had learned was self-taught. Her shop specializes in painted needlepoint canvas and counted cross stitch supplies, stocking a wide array of threads for both. Books and fabrics are plentiful. The shop hosts many designers offering literally, thousands of designs. A brand new catalog is available and will be updated with new offerings as they are added. As well as on-the-spot customer assistance, Amy's offers specialized personal help over the phone for ready-made or custom designs. Their thread pulling service is available even for canvases purchased elsewhere. In addition to Amy and Bob, the staff includes Polly, Eileen and Amy's sister, Candy. Eileen collaborates with Candy in covering all business administration and management tasks, as well as sales. Polly handles sales and along with Amy, the teaching responsibilities. Amy's Golden Strand is currently setting up their own website and wholesale business. They hope to have both projects up and running in January of '99. Stay tuned for their web address and other developments.
Amy's special expertise lies in writing commercial stitch guides for painted canvas. Since 1994 she has been writing these guides for Damarj Designs. Amy's new recipes for this line include "Joseph," "Jesus and Mary" and "Gabriel." There are several nutcrackers, Santas, ornaments and a kimono also designed by Marjorie Hunter. A new ornament with a recipe by Amy is called "Turk" (Asian Santa). She is currently creating a guide to go with a new painted canvas produced by Maggie & Co., called "Can-Can."
In creating her recipes, Amy's choice of threads is flamboyant and her combination of stitches and techniques bring texture and dimension to the design. Amy has great latitude in writing these stitch guides and functions as a design partner in their development. More often than not, Amy begins with a canvas showing only the figures and she chooses the many details and background features which bring it to life. She finds this work endlessly stimulating and challenging. Amy fell into this specialty quite unexpectedly by requesting that Marjorie Hunter design a Robin Hood Nutcracker for her. One thing led to another and Amy soon found herself receiving teaching requests from other shops, writing articles for a national needlepoint publication and creating stitch guides for new additions the Damarj Line.
For visitors to Memphis there is no lack of other attractions. Foremost is Elvis Presley's home, Graceland. Several museums instill curiosity just by their names: The Pink Palace, The Iron Works and Mud Island. A life-size Pyramid hosts the "Wonders" exhibits and functions as a sports arena and concert venue. Several original Pre-Civil War Era houses have survived and the Hunt Phelan House is furnished with this families' heirlooms which are intact because they were protected during the war by being cataloged and stored in train cars. For music buffs, Beale Street is the site of a year round celebration of blues and jazz. Springtime, with azaleas, redbuds, magnolias and dogwoods in full bloom presents an alluring backdrop to any activity.
Amy's Golden Strand and Amy's Keeping Me in Stitches are both located at 3808 Summer Avenue in Memphis, TN 38122
Phone: (901) 458-6109
Fax: (901) 323-4701
Toll Free Phone: (888) 272-2820
Amy's experience in the needlework trade has been a circuitous journey. Where once her business obediently tagged along behind, Amy now obligingly follows her teaching career whenever and wherever it may lead her. For now, that's exactly how she likes it! Amy's teaching schedule for the new year includes Needle Nook of La Jolla, CA from Jan. 17-20, Crafty Lady in Macomb, MI from Jan. 27 to 31, The Elegant Needler in Baton Rouge, LA from Feb. 10 to 14 and Designer's Desk in Bloomingdale, IL from Feb. 19- 22. For more information on her teaching schedule at Amy's Golden Strand and other shops, call, fax or e-mail her.
© 1999 The Caron Collection / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003