Longtime Zionsville Shop Celebrates 22 Years On Main Street
Photographer / Amy Payne
More than two decades ago, an idea popped into Vicki Cooper’s head. Stitching had always been a hobby for her and when a store on Zionsville’s Main Street was closing, she thought how great it would be to buy the place and open a shop that sold pattern cross stitch, needlepoint supplies, threads and other assorted gadgets.
“I didn’t want to go through the rest of my life wondering, ‘What if I had made the jump and tried this?’” says Cooper, who at the time was working in corporate America and longed for a change.
She went for it, and on March 1, 1997, Persnickety Stitchers opened its doors, becoming a destination shop for devoted stitchers. For those who live several hours away, it’s a trek to come to Zionsville for materials. Nevertheless, serious stitchers do it.
“I have people who drive from northern Indiana, southern Indiana, Illinois and Ohio,” Cooper says. “A lot of time stitchers plan their trips based on which city has needlepoint, cross-stitch and knitting.”
She says what keeps her in business is that stitching is a very tactile hobby.
“People want to see it, feel it, touch it before they buy it,” Cooper says.
They also want to personalize projects by adding embellishments. “Beads, buttons, and charms add extra dimension and texture,” she says.
Cooper notes the distinction between sewing and stitching. Sewing involves clothing machine-driven whereas stitching is handwork.
“If you sew, you’re going to hit Joanne Fabrics,” Cooper says. “Our thread and fabrics are different because we’re doing a different art. It’s different from knitting as well.”
The popularity of projects varies depending on what’s trending. Cooper recalls when owls were all the rage. Animals, in general, come and go. Florals, on the other hand, are always en vogue. In addition, Christmas stockings have stayed the course — both the traditional and modernistic ones.
“Stitching is a creative outlet for folks as you get to choose colors and textures,” Cooper says.
Evelyn Byerly, a customer of Cooper’s for 20 years, says she loves coming to the store because she’s always stimulated and inspired by the colors and variety of textures, canvases and patterns that Cooper supplies to the public.
“She’s always willing to work with me and any other customers to make sure we are totally satisfied with what we have put together,” Byerly says. “Time is our most valuable commodity, and Vicki wants to make sure that the time you’re spending yields the most satisfactory product possible.”
In the 22 years Cooper has been in business, the biggest change she’s seen has been the number and types of threads available. Customers appreciate the level of variety Cooper carries.
“We’re reminded of all that we have every time we have to do inventory,” Cooper says with a chuckle.
She sells a multitude of threads, including cotton, silk, over-dyed silk, over-dyed cotton, velours, synthetics (rayons and nylons) and metallic threads of all blends.
“One trend is to mix and match textures because every thread has a different surface to it and it will reflect light differently,” Cooper says.
Persnickety Stitchers offers a variety of classes in needlepoint, counted canvas, counted thread and ornament finishing. Cooper arranges classes on demand to accommodate customers’ schedules.
“You can walk in, say you want to take a class, and we’ll schedule it on the spot,” says Cooper, who has noticed that lately there has been an uptick in the number of people who are interested in learning needlepoint, in particular.
“We’re seeing empty nesters who have some extra time on their hands now that their schedules aren’t so packed with kids’ activities,” Cooper says. “And for moms who are looking for something to do when they are sitting at swim meets or track meets, they can sit and stitch.”
Another reason Cooper suspects people are venturing into stitching is to decompress from screen time and other life stressors.
“Studies have shown that stitching is good for de-stressing and relaxation, plus you get something concrete when you’re done,” Cooper says.
Persnickety Stitchers is located at 58A North Main Street in Zionsville. For more information, call 317-873-5010 or visit online at persnicketystitchers.com.