Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tina’s celebrates 30 years

If there’s such a thing as a destination fabric store, Tina’s on Madison surely fits the category. In its three decades as a mainstay of Madison Park’s “Village” the store has become known to many Northwest fabric aficionados as the place to get what you need. And it’s not just fabric you’ll find once you wade into Tina’s, it’s also tassels, trims, ribbons, beads, and sewing supplies. It may not be everything, but it’s pretty much everything that’ll fit. Vogue Patterns had this to say about the store in a recent issue: “If you’re looking for a neatly organized store, this isn’t the place—if you’re looking for something great, it definitely is.”

Store Owner Tina Brown is a major presence in the local business community and a long-time resident of the Park. Given her prominence, she is surprisingly shy about herself (“No pictures of me, please--this is a story about the store!”), but she’s certainly not embarrassed to have publicity for her now-venerable Madison Park shop. And in this, the store’s 30th Anniversary month, she has nothing to complain about—at least not in that regard. In addition to Vogue Patterns’ favorable write up on the shop this summer, a fabric from Tina’s was recently featured by local “lifestyle and entertainment expert” Kelley Moore in a KING-TV segment, Yelp called to congratulate the store on its perfect record of five-star reviews, and Google showed up to do some on-location filming in the shop (we’ll have more about that in a future posting).

So what’s the secret to the success of Tina’s? Tina attributes it to her ability to keep up with fashion trends and to understand what her customers want. To keep up, she attends the international textile shows regularly, she visits high-end boutiques to see what’s new, she pays close attention to what’s happening in Europe, and she buys for her market. ”If I had another store I would buy different things,” she says, “but I’m not going to buy something because it’s cute—I’m buying for my customers.”

And what do her customers want? “They want new things—and they want proof it’s new!” she tells us, adding that it keeps her on her toes. When she started thirty years ago she had just come off a career with the Singer Corporation. Surprisingly, given how far she’s come, she began her sewing store with absolutely no fabric. But that all changed fairly quickly, and Tina’s is now known for carrying fabrics of all kinds: a little fleece, a bit of flannel, some embroidered silks--you name it.

As pointed about by one reviewer on Yelp, though the store may look disorganized, Tina nevertheless seems to know exactly where everything is. “It may not be neatly stacked,” she says, “but it’s all here.” The chaos, however, is definitely part of the charm for many visitors to the store, sort of a search for treasure with Tina as your guide. The Seattle PI once summed it up this way: “It’s a bit of an East Coast experience right in Madison Park.”

[Tina’s on Madison is located at 4232 E. Madison Street.]

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