(Valori Wells with her daughter Violet, 13, mom, Jean Wells and daughter, Olivia, 15 | Photo by Kristine Thomas)
Learning there was a state mandate to close all nonessential businesses in mid-March, Valori Wells had to quickly stitch together a plan that would protect her customers, her mother and her family’s business.
“I have been working here for many years but this year definitely threw everything into a different realm — especially in the beginning when I was trying to determine how to protect everyone’s health ,and the store was required to close to in-store visits,” Valori said. “I had to rethink everything we did.”
Jean Wells, 77, started The Sitchin’ Post in 1975. She is transitioning the business to her daughter who grew up helping her in the shop that is a well-known Sisters’ tourist destination for quilters, knitters and other crafters.
“I think Val has been very creative in all that she has been doing for the business from online classes to YouTube education videos to selling online,” Jean said.
When everyone was “stuck at home,” Valori said she used social media to provide video tours of the shop so her customers could see the fabric and other sewing notions. She creatively found ways to use her inventory to create kits to make pillowcases, stuffed animals and other items. She also found a way to safely work with her employees.
“We have many talented people who work here and specialize in their craft,” Val said. “Education is a huge part of what we do and why my mom started the shop so she could teach others. We have continued to offer classes online and safely at the store.”
In the early days of the pandemic, Valori said she had a lot of fear of what she was going to do. “This is my mom’s shop. Something she built and something that has been supported for more than 45 years by a dedicated community,” Valori said. “I had to reinvent how we did some things. I appreciate my mom telling me to just have faith in the decisions I made.”
Valori said she has learned not to look at situations as black and white. Instead, she sees what is happening with the pandemic as an opportunity to explore new possibilities to make the business even stronger while always keeping the expectations of her customers in mind.
“I believe that making things is healing and a way to reduce anxiety,” Valori said. “We have seen with more people at home that there is more of an interest in learning how to make various crafts. I want people of all skill levels to find something here that they enjoy making.”
On a recent September day, there were three generations working at the Stitchin’ Post — Valori, her daughters, Olivia, 15 and Violet, 13, and her mom. She’s proud of how her daughters have quickly learned various aspects of the family business, even taking it upon themselves to watch videos to learn how to crochet. Her husband, Ross Kennedy, and their ten-year-old son, Teague, also help with the family business.
“This year hasn’t been easy for many businesses because of the pandemic. I am grateful for the support of my husband and three kids, my mom and our employees,” Valori said. “What keeps me going is I am too stubborn to ever give up. We love what we do, and we love seeing what people create. I really do believe creating something is therapeutic for the soul.”