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The Pine Needle attracts boom of quilt lovers


Tour buses from everywhere have magic effect on downtown economy

If you are a quilt maker in the United States — or anywhere in the world — you must go to The Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego. by: LAKE OSWEGO REVIEW - Geri Grasvik is happy to welcome visitors to The Pine  Needle. Then she sends them to the rest of downtown Lake Oswego.

The little big shop on First Street is a mecca for people who love to quilt. And if that is case, you really, really love to quilt.

“You have no idea!” said Geri Grasvik, owner of The Pine Needle, when asked if quilt lovers were devoted fans. “We fly so far under the radar.”

In sort of a believe-it-or-not fact, Grasvik noted that the quilting industry is a $4 billion a year industry. Obviously, despite a low publicity profile, quilting is very, very popular.

This summer, Grasvik has been welcoming Pine Needle fans in huge batches. They arrive in big buses that come right up to the shop, and 55 people get out. Just last week there was a bus of women who came all the way from New Hampshire, and on Saturday a bus drove up from Texas. In May there was a bus that carried quilt shop owners from around the world, including Russia, South Africa, England and New Zealand. Grasvik and her staff lay out a warm welcome for the visitors, and the conversation is superb with such questions as, “What is quilting like in Russia?” — a great ice breaker.

It has been this way ever since 1999, when Quilt Sampler magazine chose The Pine Needle as one of the top 10 quilt shops in the nation.

“That brought a lot of focus to our store,” said Grasvik.

The Pine Needle deserves such attention. Quilt lovers can buy items there that they can’t get anywhere else by local artists like Violet Craft and with patterns offered only by The Pine Needle. Grasvik herself designs a batik with a Northwest theme, featuring mountains and trees, that cannot be obtained anywhere else.

Yet The Pine Needle experience offers much more than just a wonderful quilt shop. Due largely to Grasvik’s encouragement, quilt tourists come to take in downtown Lake Oswego, an enriching experience for everyone involved. They fan out around the surrounding streets to eat hamburgers and ice cream and buy olive oil, baked goods and clothes.

“They shop, they dine, they look around, they enjoy our town,” Grasvik said. “The whole community benefits. This is not just about my store, but our town. They embrace our town, spend money and support our town. It’s very valuable to us. They love the flowers, the charm and the uniqueness. They find individuality here.”

As far as Lake Oswego business owners are concerned, the more quilt lovers in town, the better.

“They’re the nicest people you could ever meet,” said Blake Zogelman, owner of The Oilerie. “Most of them wish they had more room in their luggage so they could buy more olive oil and vinegar.”

“When people come from out of our area we try really hard to be welcoming,” said Carol Winston, owner of Accessories from the Heart. “A bunch of ladies from Canada came here en masse one day and they were delightful. We have a great community to share.”

You might even say The Pine Needle has turned Lake Oswego into one giant warm, welcoming, comfortable quilt.

The Pine Needle is located at 429 First St. For more information, call 503-635-1353 or visit pineneedlequiltshop.com.