The smell of freshly painted walls and an awesome wooden bookcase greet customers now as they enter The Wool & The Floss (397 Fisher) in Grosse Pointe since its recent makeover, under new owner Melissa MacLeod of Grosse Pointe Park.
Closed more than a month for redecorating, the shop’s reopening on May 8 had been greatly anticipated by many knitters, crocheters and needlepoint enthusiasts living in and around the area, many of whom (myself included) spent years shopping, taking classes and sharing ideas inside the cozy setting that never ceased to inspire creativity, while being like home away from home.
MacLeod attended high school at Grosse Pointe South, across from the shop, where she learned to needlepoint at age 7 from the woman who owned it in the ’70s. But it wasn’t until she reached her 20s, when she was on bed rest, pregnant with twins, and needing to pass the time of day, that she regained interest in the age-old needleart.
MacLeod, 49, spent years honing her craft, and, despite having three kids living at home, she became a needlepoint instructor at The Wool & The Floss at the request of the previous owner, Jean Candler, who passed away last month. “Jean asked me to come work for her about five years ago. I was supposed to work just one day a week, then I became the main needlepoint teacher here,” she said.
As the shop’s fifth owner, MacLeod said it’s “absolutely” a dream come true. She worked as a finance consultant, but is now in the process of “wrapping up” that chapter of her life to devote time to her new business.
MacLeod saw the real possibility of owning such a business after joining Candler, who’d “been like a second mom,” on a trip to a winter market, hosted by The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA). She said, while at the airport, Candler asked her, “Have you ever thought about owning a needlepoint shop?”
Two years later she purchased the business, housed in the quaint little dwelling where her love of needlepoint and the retail business grew. MacLeod’s vision for a fresh, new look would involve a major undertaking. So, after Candler’s month-long transition sale, everything left was taken to her house to make room for cleaning and redecorating.
“The store has been a knitting or needlepoint store since the 1960s,” she said. “ I felt the building needed some serious attention. Jean had been there 26 years, and the owner of the building was fabulous in terms of remodeling. The lighting was terrible, which really doesn’t work with this kind of business. We put in a brand new ceiling, new lights, and a utility sink so we can host events.”
MacLeod said the store was a dress shop in the ’60s, which explains why “there were mirrors on the wall behind the many yarn bends that were taken out.” She also said, “During the rebuilding, we found windows that were in the wall, covered by bulletin boards since the ’80s. There was also a door that went nowhere. We painted throughout, and I’ve readjusted the layout — moved the classroom to the front of the store, and our prior classroom is now retail space, yarn bends and a small office for myself.”
She had the walls painted medium gray, trimmed with white. She said, “I felt the focus of this kind of shop should be the merchandise, and a nice, calm soothing color would provide a neutral backdrop for the merchandise.” She also put in a new computer system to replace the 1950s cash register, and added “a work station on the sales floor” in the backroom, where customers can search for patterns on Ravelry, and print them out on site.
As for the pristine and spacious results, MacLeod said, “I couldn’t be happier. It’s been great, and the landlord was wonderful. Every customer who walks in says, ‘Wow!’ which is what I wanted them to say. We haven’t lost the charm or the quaint feel of an old house.”
Classes include: needlepoint embellishment, special projects, crocheting by appointment and knitting. Shop hours remain the same, except it’s now open until 8 p.m. Thursdays, and customers can still look for discounted items in the same cubby at the back. (See you there!)
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact The Wool and The Floss (397 Fisher in Grosse Pointe) at (313) 882-9110 or on Facebook.