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Idaho Voices

Bear Paw Quilting on list of top shops Shelly Fitzgerald of Hayden shares a laugh during the BSR Blast sewing class at Bear Paw Quilting and Bernina in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka) Shelly Fitzgerald of Hayden shares a laugh during the BSR Blast sewing class at Bear Paw Quilting and Bernina in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka)

Two women, who were seeking new careers and recently divorced, quickly discovered that they shared a common passion – quilting.

They barely knew each other, but a partnership was formed, and then they decided they had better discuss it.

“We decided that maybe it would be a good idea if we had coffee first,” says Kathryn Boss with a chuckle.

Boss and partner, Sandy Goedde, opened Bear Paw Quilting and Bernina in October 2002 – only four months after that coffee conversation. The two admit that they “just work well together.”

Boss had been sewing since she was a child, had taught local quilting classes for years, and brought creative passion to the table, according to Goedde.

Goedde, who had majored in textiles and interior design at the University of Idaho, had run a successful insurance company, and brought business skills to the table, according to Boss.

After a local quilt shop closed, the future partners decided that the Coeur d’Alene market could support a quilt business, if the shop combined great customer service with a multitude of fabric choices.

The rest is history, and now Coeur d’Alene’s Bear Paw Quilting and Bernina has been chosen as one of the top 10 quilting shops across the United States and Canada for the spring issue of Quilt Sampler magazine.

Published by Better Homes and Gardens, competition to be included in Quilt Sampler is keen. Bear Paw Quilting was chosen among 3,000 applicants. A multi-page profile of the shop will appear in the May 11 issue.

To celebrate, Boss and Goedde are hosting a Top Ten Gala Celebration Open House Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Also included in the magazine issue is Boss and Goedde’s original, full-size pattern called Lake Cabins, a pattern which includes elements that helped them discover their common passion when they were in the planning stages.

Success came quickly for Boss and Goedde. After nine months Bear Paw outgrew their space of 1,800 square feet. They doubled their space to 3,000 square feet, and in a few years they expanded to 4,200 square feet. Last year the partners designed and built their own building with 6,200 square feet, which is located next to Fred Meyer in Coeur d’Alene.

Although quilt fabrics are the main inventory, Bear Paw also carries embroidery, needlecraft, fiber arts, rug hooking, punch needle, and wool appliqués.

“We are the quilter’s version of one-stop shopping,” says Goedde.

With renewed interest and phenomenal growth of quilting among women of all ages and walks of life, Bear Paw has kept up with demand by offering 60 to 75 classes each month and organizing 10 annual quilting retreats.

Their staff of 13 is all experienced quilters, and many of them teach classes as well as publish patterns.

Goedde believes in a world of technology, where life has become faster and more stressful, and where people are disconnected, quilting offers women a great social connection.

“Besides the creative aspects, strong friendships are made – quilting has become a great social connection,” says Boss.

In addition, people love quilts because they bring back fond memories of the past says Boss.

“Quilts make great keepsakes, and many women remember quilts that their mother or grandmother made,” says Boss.

Bear Paw also believes in community and is participating in the Million Pillowcase Challenge with American Patchwork and Quilting. The shop offers a class where participants can make a pillowcase to donate to a local charity. As of March 30, Bear Paw had donated 155 pillowcases to The Women’s Crisis Center.

The name Bear Paw came from Boss’ favorite block pattern.

Bear paw prints adorn the sidewalk and exposed trusses over the entrance. Their shop – with high ceilings, expansive windows, decks off the office and staff rooms, and lots of natural light has a Northwest feel – and they planned it that way.

With 5,000 to 6,000 bolts of quilt fabric, patterns, books, and sewing machines, Bear Paw attracts patrons from all over the Northwest.

“We are definitely a destination quilt shop,” says Goedde.


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