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Sewing Up a Strategy for Success

Plus openings, awards and Dollar General comes to Silver City (with, yes, Walgreen's not far behind).

 

Welcome to Business Exposure, a column that focuses on local business from all angles. Each issue will spotlight a featured Southwest New Mexico business, take a shorter look at some others, and update ongoing business items of interest. Feel free to suggest business topics for the column, and let us know about your own business' changes and newsworthy events.

 

Spotlight on. . .

Bernina Sewing & Design Center, on East Lohman Avenue in Las Cruces, is the place to come to indulge material addictions, especially if the material of your addiction is quilting fabric. The shop concentrates on top-of-the-line computerized sewing and embroidery machines, the latest embroidery software packages, thread in myriad shades, all manner of sewing gadgets and doo-dads, and quilting fabrics and notions.

Marsha Cowan, owner of Bernina Sewing & Design center in Las Cruces, demonstrates special quilting stitch software.

Besides its sophisticated equipment, what sets the shop apart is its marketing strategy of creating a place where sewers gather to share techniques and camaraderie. The store has drawn an active "community of the cloth" to its full schedule of classes—something every week—for beginners to experts.

A quilter herself for more than 20 years, shop owner Marsha Cowan teaches a variety of quilting classes, including the Mystery Quilt class in which participants come together one night a month for six months. Cowan describes the class as "challenging, but fun. It's so exciting to see what we create by the final session."

In addition to Cowan, a host of other experts teach classes in basic sewing, serging, adorning clothing, scrapbooking, making specific types of clothing, such as vests or scarves, and pattern fitting. Ongoing "Bag Lady" classes give instruction in making a different type of bag—duffles, carry-ons, customized handbags—each month.

Mastery classes are available, free with registration, to customers who have purchased a Bernina machine, serger or software from the Las Cruces store, and at $25 for those who purchased elsewhere.

"These machines can do so much! These classes are designed to help people get the most out of their machines," Cowan says.

The store recently held a "Discover Your Creative Jeans" party. Participants received demonstrations in the art of "Jean Embellishment" and hands-on instruction using Bernina machines in applique, decorative stitches, machine embroidery and bobbin work. "Pajama Parties" are special get-togethers in which participants are invited to bring in an old project that's been sitting around, unfinished, and to sew in good company from late afternoon until 10:30 at night. In addition to "group support and motivation to finally finish that project," Cowan says, participants enjoy complimentary food and hourly drawings for prizes. Space and machines are limited, so registration is required.

Cowan says she especially enjoys the ongoing meetings of "Fabriholics Anonymous," a class she created to encourage participants to use their "stash" of fabric.

"It's the same for all of us," Cowan says with a laugh. "You know you don't really 'need' that fabric, but you can't pass it up because it's just so gorgeous or it's a great price. You bring your treasures home only to stash them away in a drawer or closet.

"The rule for the Fabriholics group is that you have to use your stash, and only your stash, to make a project. Everybody jokes about it. You'll hear, 'I've had this in my closet for five years!' It really gets hilarious."

Cowan says she feels the sewing arts bridge age differences and has seen the love of quilting dissolve international borders. She was invited by two shop owners in Sweden to come teach quilting workshops.

"Seamstresses and quilters are just nice people," she says, "and we were coming together to share our passion. Language barriers didn't matter. Borders just fell away and even with our language limitations, we could communicate about the craft and share our enthusiasm. I remember walking into the first quilt shop —in Sweden—and thinking to myself, 'OK, I'm at home.' There's just something universal about it."

Bernina Sewing Center is located at 2001 E. Lohman, Suite 117, in Las Cruces. It's open Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 523-2000 for class information, or check their Web site at www.bernina-lascruces.com.

 

New to Town

Golder Associates, a Ground Engineering and Environmental Science Services firm, has set up offices at 1103 N. Hudson St., Silver City, in the hexagonal little building formerly occupied by HMS. The international environmental engineering firm performs a wide range of services, involving air and water quality issues, environmental remediation, specialized engineering and more, in all project phases, from feasibility and permitting through construction and maintenance to closure and restoration. They also provide mining engineering, and have been contracted by Phelps Dodge to oversee local reclamation efforts. Senior project engineer Jen Pepe, who relocated from the firm's Tucson office in April, says the company's contract length will depend on Phelps Dodge's needs, and could be five years or more. "We're here as long as we need to be to support PD on their projects," Pepe says, including the operating Chino Mine and the inactive Tyrone Mine that is reprocessing waste materials.

The Loft, a clothing business run by Carla DeMarco, has opened its doors in the Antique Mall's upstairs space at Texas and Bullard Streets in Silver City. The store sells used, vintage and new clothing for both men and women, including "hip stuff, like men's '70s plaid and gold pants, which are very much in demand." That includes Chinese garments and a new line of east Indian tunic outfits, among other things, according to DeMarco.

JW Art Gallery, The Old Hurley Store, has opened in the well-known Kennecott/Phelps Dodge 100-year-old company store at 99 Cortez Ave. in Hurley. Proprietors Karin and Joseph Wade have renovated the spacious building to contain a fine art gallery and custom framing business, as well as a gift shop and museum with a local history focus. Printmaking classes will be held at the site, taught by Joseph Wade.

 

Awards

Luna Rossa Vineyards in Deming has been triply honored, for its wines and business practices. Co-owner Paolo D'Andrea says the winery's Symphony and Zinfandel wines won double gold, the highest honor possible, at the recent Taster's Guild competition. "It is the best you can get," D'Andrea says. "It means the wine was the unanimous choice of all the judges." Luna Rossa's Malvasia Bianca also won gold and Best of Class in a California competition, and Nini, a uniquely blended red wine D'Andrea created, has also won gold. Winery co-owner Sylvia D'Andrea was chosen as the "scholar" for New Mexico, receiving a paid trip to St. Louis to participate an agri-business conference sponsored by New Mexico's Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT). Also, Luna Rossa was chosen by the Deming Chamber of Commerce as Agribusiness of the Year. The winery will celebrate the first anniversary of its tasting room, at 3710 W. Pine St./SW Frontage Road in Deming, June 10-11 with live music, a bike rally, a car show and other festivities. For more information, call 544-1160.

Horton Technical Associates in Las Cruces has been named a 2006 Flying 40 award recipient, recognizing the high-tech modeling, simulation and analysis firm as one of New Mexico's fastest-growing companies. The award, sponsored by Technology Ventures Corp., will be bestowed on HTA in June at an awards luncheon in Albuquerque. This is the second year in a row that HTA, which started as a defense contractor in 1999 and now also works with civilian commercial clients, has won a Flying 40 award.

 

News Bites and Updates

David Mulvenna confirms that he plans to open his Desert Rose restaurant by the end of June. Mulvenna completed the purchase of the old Elks Lodge on the corner of Texas and Market Streets in Silver City. The renovation nearing completion has been massive. (See "Do Overs" in this issue.) The restaurant will have a beer and wine license, offer dining in as well as take-out and catering, and feature a Mediterranean menu with world-cuisine specials.

Isaac's Bar & Grill on the corner of Bullard and Broadway in Silver City, is now hiring, and owner Bruce Helmig says he is gearing up for a summer opening. The long-awaited restaurant will have a full bar, and will be serving up appetizers and a light lunch menu. "The owners are anticipating the opening just as much as the public," Helmig quips.

R.A.L. West, a certified Reiki master and practitioner of the energy-based healing and relaxation technique, has opened her practice at Cienega Spa and Salon in Silver City. West has practiced Reiki for 22 years, in Colorado, California, Arizona and New Mexico. She is available for appointments, which last 1 1/2 hours, 9 a.m-6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

Job foreman David Vanover confirms that a Dollar General store will occupy half of the nearly completed building in the commercial space currently being developed on Hwy. 180 in Silver City, across from Albertson's Grocery. The fast-growing chain has more than 8,000 stores nationwide, primarily in communities under 25,000 population, with 36 in New Mexico including two in Las Cruces and one in Deming. With small stores averaging 6,800 square feet, Dollar General stores feature "a focused assortment of highly consumable merchandise, making shopping for basic necessities simple and hassle-free," according to the chain's Web site; 30 percent of Dollar General's merchandise is priced at $1 or less. Another space in the building on Hwy. 180 is for lease. Vanover also says a Walgreen's is slated for another spot on the lot. No truth to the rumor about Starbucks.

LaJolla New Mexico Properties is developing property just north of Deming and just over half an hour south of Silver City. The 39-acre parcels will be developed as residential horse ranch estate properties, in six building phases, according to owner/developer/contractor Bill Kennon. He identifies the ideal customer as "folks who don't want a big ranch, but want some peace and quiet and still have the conveniences of being near town."

Mick Provencio's first two years owning Sleep Gallery in Las Cruces have been good. The business has moved to larger quarters within the same plaza, now located in the space that used to house the Rodeo USA nightclub.

No sawing wood in the mattress store's old location—just saws! A Harbor Freight tool store is slated to move into that space.

Send your business news and topics to Donna Lawder at donna@desertexposure.com.

 

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