There are two of their stores fairly near to me: Bolton and Manchester. I usually go to the Bolton store, although Manchester was the first that I visited. It was something of a culture shock the first time I went in. I had heard that they sold fabric which was keenly priced, but what I hadn’t been told about was the way in which it is offered for sale. Rather than walking in to a shop displaying row upon row of fabric bolts or rolls, I found racks of large metal baskets, each containing pieces of fabrics in differing sizes, patterns and colours, priced per kilo, rather than per metre. That was unusual.
It was also quite overwhelming being faced with this alien environment, especially as I was a novice stitcher, very much lacking in confidence. I admit to being somewhat panicked by the scene. I didn’t want to buy large pieces of fabric, but I couldn’t find any small pieces, and, anyway, how would I know how much it was going to cost? The fabrics in the metal baskets are sold by weight rather then length. Oh, crikey! How much would a metre of fabric weigh? What should I do? I had no idea. So, I did what any right-thinking person in a panic would do, I left – hurriedly.
Somehow, I never managed to build up the courage to find out how could buy less fabric than the smallest piece I could find in one of the baskets. I bought other stuff from their shops with no problems, but fabric was another matter entirely. It always felt as though everyone else in the shop knew exactly what to do.
Once you know how the system works, it isn’t scary asking how much a piece of fabric will cost or having a smaller piece cut from a larger one. In fact, when I chose these fabrics for the Folded Fabric Christmas Tree I had just a quarter of a yard of each cut from larger pieces. So, you see, you don’t even have to buy a huge length when you ask for a piece to be cut. (*I think it would improve the customer experience if there were a couple of signs in-store briefly explaining how to buy smaller pieces. After all, not everyone will have read my blog to find out what to do!)
Abakhan don’t just sell fabric: they also sell knitting and crochet yarns, patterns and accessories, haberdashery and a selection of craft items. Some of their yarns are sold by the pack at greatly reduced prices – click here for examples. They also sell pre-packaged selections of fabrics at bargain prices – you can see some here – and lots more besides.
Shopping at Abakhan is different from shopping at many other stores, but it is a handy place to know about. I have not yet been to their flagship store at Mostyn in north Wales – that delight has yet to come!