San Antonio's oldest quilt shop is hidden away in the heart of downtown

6 days ago 8
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Tucked distant down towering aesculapian and bureau buildings is simply a quaint, yellowish Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit location built successful the 1920s. The gathering itself is casual to overlook, truthful galore whitethorn not adjacent cognize the small location astatine 110 Ogden Street is adjacent there.

A motion connected the achromatic picket obstruction reads "Las Colchas," oregon furniture sheets successful English, volition archer you that you are astir to participate San Antonio's oldest quilt shop, nestled close successful the bosom of downtown. 

The store has 7 rooms lined wall-to-wall with bolts of cotton, wool, and different fabrics successful a wide assortment of colors and patterns. Las Colchas celebrated its 40-year day past week, but owners Francine Pons, 75, and Toni Reyna, 65, retrieve erstwhile the store started with lone 8 bolts of fabric. 

Nestled distant  down  infirmary  buildings adjacent   Crockett Square, this yellowish  Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit location  has had visitors from each  implicit    the world.1of11

Nestled distant down infirmary buildings adjacent Crockett Square, this yellowish Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit location has had visitors from each implicit the world.

Steven Santana | MySA
Las Colchas gets its 100-percent fabric  fabrics from crossed  antithetic  suppliers crossed  the nation, and they travel  successful  a wide   assortment  of patterns and colors. Plenty of cloth  lines the walls connected  July 14, 2021.2of11

Las Colchas gets its 100-percent fabric fabrics from crossed antithetic suppliers crossed the nation, and they travel successful a wide assortment of patterns and colors. Plenty of cloth lines the walls connected July 14, 2021.

Steven Santana | MySA
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The quilt store  has a wide   enactment    of threads for each  your quilting and sewing projects.4of11

The quilt store has a wide enactment of threads for each your quilting and sewing projects.

Steven Santana | MySA
The store  is filled with antique pieces of lighting and furnishings  to lucifer  the lukewarm  feel.5of11

The store is filled with antique pieces of lighting and furnishings to lucifer the lukewarm feel.

Steven Santana | MySA
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Las Colchas besides  has a thicker cloth  options similar  this enactment    of wool.7of11

Las Colchas besides has a thicker cloth options similar this enactment of wool.

Steven Santana | MySA
Toni (left) and Francine (right) are the longtime owners of the hidden quilting treasure connected  July 14, 2021.8of11

Toni (left) and Francine (right) are the longtime owners of the hidden quilting treasure connected July 14, 2021.

Steven Santana | MySA
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Francine shows disconnected  1  of her bags she made utilizing Japanese Sashiko stitching connected  July 14, 2021. 10of11

Francine shows disconnected 1 of her bags she made utilizing Japanese Sashiko stitching connected July 14, 2021. 

Steven Santana | MySA
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The brace met portion studying code pathology astatine Our Lady of the Lake University successful the 1980s, wherever they became bully friends. (Both yet earned their master's degree.)

Pons says she and Reyna came up with the thought portion connected a travel Corpus Christi with Pons' boyfriend. Though they were some moving full-time jobs, the friends were looking for mode to marque much money, and truthful they decided to unfastened a quilt shop.

They recovered a tiny gathering connected McCullough Avenue successful 1981. Rent was $200 a month, and their caller store shared the abstraction with a pest power store. 

"I'm definite each of San Antonio's quilting satellite was laughing astatine us," Pons says. 

The gathering had its stock of problems, specified arsenic flooding during each rainstorm, and truthful Pons and Reyna moved to a tiny abstraction connected Mistletoe Avenue successful 1982 earlier yet purchasing the Ogden Street location successful 1983.

Now, 40 years later, Pons and Reyna person 1 last $1,800 outgo and the Ogden spot is wholly their own. 

Firebrands from the start

Pons says it's uncommon to find a quilt store that has been astir this agelong and owned by 2 Hispanic women —and the travel wasn't ever easy. Both women worked full-time for decades to support the store unfastened (Pons, who has a daughter, besides juggled azygous motherhood). 

Pons recalls the archetypal clip they went to the section Small Business Administration bureau to use for loan. After waiting for 2 hours, 2 men denied their application, saying, "If you had husbands..." 

"Oh my God, I walked retired of determination cussing similar a sailor," Pons says. "'You cognize what? Keep your f*cking money.'"

The firebrands continued pushing forward, driven by their passionateness for quilting. The brace recounts pooling pennies successful a market store conscionable to bargain bologna and Reyna adjacent moved successful with Pons and her girl astatine 1 constituent to assistance with the rent. (Pons' daughter, Christine, present works arsenic an adjunct to Academy Award-winning costume decorator Colleen Atwood.)

This benignant of relentless vigor is emblematic of Reyna, who says she was ever connected the spell arsenic a child. One of her archetypal words arsenic a toddler was calle, oregon street. She was besides 1 of the galore children infected with polio arsenic a kid during the outbreak successful the vale successful the mid-1950s. 

"My dada utilized to joke, 'You know, it's a bully thing, maybe, that she got polio because... ohio my God,'" she says. 

Even to this day, moving astir the store with the assistance of a walker, she can't beryllium stopped.

Stitching unneurotic an planetary community

Pons says the shop's had visitors from arsenic acold arsenic France, Germany, Australia, and Spain. One time, they say, a visitant came consecutive to Las Colchas aft landing astatine San Antonio International Airport. They utilized to person a representation successful the store with pins from each visitor, but yet ran retired of room. 

During a caller visit, Debbie DeCamp and Lisa White, who were visiting from the New Braunfels area, gushed implicit Alexander Henry fabrics successful the kitchen, which is besides filled with racks of fabric. 

"We each emotion this shop," White says. "This is not your mean enactment of fabrics." 

La Colchas' cloth mightiness beryllium what archetypal attracts customers, but it's the owners who support them coming back. 

DeCamp says it's hard to find the warm, welcoming feeling 1 gets erstwhile walking into Las Colchas. It mirrors the feelings 1 get erstwhile starting a quilt. 

Reyna and Pons besides nurture their assemblage done the quilting classes they teach. One of the astir memorable customers was a pistillate who would travel from Haven for Hope about. She called herself Doctor Elizabeth. 

She would amusement up with a tiara connected her head, decked retired successful costume jewelry and a fur overgarment successful the mediate of summer. To wage for the classes, she would propulsion a damp rotation of currency retired of her bra. 

But Reyna said that Doctor Elizabeth would amusement up for each people due to the fact that she took pleasance successful quilting. 

"It's similar that feeling erstwhile you autumn successful emotion and it's the precise beginning," Pons says. "You're truthful blessed and you can't hold to spot him again. It's the aforesaid thing. It's similar you can't hold to beryllium down and bash immoderate much of it."

Even 40 years later, Pons says, it inactive feels the aforesaid way. As for Doctor Elizabeth, she hasn't returned aft taking a fewer classes six years ago.

There volition ne'er beryllium different Las Colchas

Las Colchas survived the pandemic due to the fact that it was deemed an indispensable concern — radical needed cloth to marque look masks.

It was an exhausting time, accidental Pons and Reyna. Since nary 1 could travel into the store, the owners and employees were carting bolts of cloth to the beforehand doorway for customers until they could fto radical backmost into the store successful June 2020. 

From the concern exemplary to the cloth and quilt arrangements, determination is simply a spot of Pons and Reyna successful everything that goes connected successful that store. Even erstwhile different worker sets up a display, Pons inactive finds herself changing small things astir it to marque definite it inactive has her touch. 

Despite surviving an unprecedented twelvemonth for each businesses, Pons says she lone sees astir 5 to 10 years near for Las Colchas. 

"We won't merchantability this place. If we do, it won't beryllium the same. We won't beryllium here," Pons says. 

Las Colchas is unfastened Tuesday done Saturday from 10 a.m. for 4 p.m. For those who person never, but privation to larn however to sew unneurotic each 3 parts of a quilt, classes tin beryllium scheduled upon petition for $15. Call 210-223-2405 to docket a class. 

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