Thread, thread, thread. 30% off!

We’re on to a new quilting project, which always means there’s something we need from Fabric Depot. Louise is a quilting genius. She is prolific and indefatigable. I like to help out from time to time; I can sew a pretty straight line with the sewing machine and I have a decent eye for pattern and color combinations. I joke that ours is the only sweatshop that serves lattes.

If you’ve never been to Fabric Depot, I can’t begin to do it justice. For starters, it’s the size of the Convention Center. People come from all over just to shop there. BUSLOADS of them! When they have a big sale (which happens a lot) the parking lot fills up and busses line the periphery. If you are a quilter, seamstress, needleworker or otherwise crafty person – well, then you would feel right at home at Fabric Depot, like a kid in the planet’s biggest candy store.

Me? It makes me feel mildly ill. Lured by the promise of a meal out afterward or some other treat, I go with Louise sometimes. We like doing things together. I even get a little excited beforehand, thinking “this time it will be fun!”  By the time we walk in, I realize it won’t be long before I am looking longingly at the husbands in the “waiting room.” They sit on worn straight-back chairs and watch football while their wives scour the aisles.

For the hard-core Fabric Depot shoppers

Miles of fabric

We had a long list and each set off in opposite directions. I was quickly distracted by the crazy cartoon character fleece, rows and rows of lamé, sequins, buttons, and the rulers for all the different ways quilters need to measure an inch.

The people were pretty interesting, too. I would say that those who shop at Fabric Depot are a pretty focused bunch. You don’t just stumble in there; it’s a bit out of the way and, if you don’t have a plan, you could easily get lost or overwhelmed. Even pass out. Or pass away.

This was my state of mind as I wandered, somewhat unproductively. I saw a lot of women in pairs. Mothers and daughters selecting fabric for curtains or slipcovers. One woman had her cart piled high and was just finishing a phone call. Disgusted, she turned to the young woman with her and said, “Well, that makes it easy! She doesn’t like this kind of fabric!”  There were a few men accompanying their wives, pushing shopping carts with a stoic determination.

One guy stood out like a sore thumb. He was fondling fabrics in the Minky section and had a peaceful, contented air about him. Minky fabric is a genius invention of softness. Last time I shopped for a baby gift there were Minky blankets in the standard pastel colors. Now every color and pattern imaginable is out there. Babies everywhere are getting wrapped in this stuff, and it just seems they have a better shot at happiness as a result. It’s totally irresistible, and I found myself joining the guy. “Wow, these are really soft,” I said.

So soft…

“Are you making something?” I asked him. He smiled. “Yeah, I’m making a bed for my dog.” A mastiff, it turns out. I had strong opinions about which colors and patterns would be most appropriate and I didn’t mind sharing them. We fell into a comfortable exchange, and he told me about an invention for which he is making a prototype. It’s a really great idea, so I’m not going to give it away.

He said his name was Tyler and he told me some more about his invention and his business plan, which includes donating part of any profit back to the community. He said he got this idea after buying a pair of Tom’s Shoes. “You know about these?” he asked me, holding his foot up. “They give one pair away for every pair someone buys. I want to do something like that. So many businesses make money by selling stuff, but they don’t do anything for people. I don’t think that’s right. I want to do something that makes a difference. You Get, We Give. Like that.”

How could I not fall for this guy? “Here,” I said, pulling a folded up C-note from my pocket. “I think your plan’s great. I hope this will help you out a tiny bit.” “Thank you!” he said. “You didn’t have to do that!” Then I asked if I could take his picture and put it on my blog. “Sure,” he said. “What’s your blog about?” I told him it was about giving away $100 bills. “You gave me a HUNDRED DOLLARS??” He looked at the bill for the first time. “Wow, that’s amazing! Thank you so much!”

Tyler makes his choice. He seems partial to green.

He had a lot of questions about what I was doing and I found myself telling him some of my story. He got it right away, “Wow, that must be so heartening, to do that. That’s really cool.”

Tyler picked out an understated and dignified olive green, despite my suggestion that his mastiff might appreciate getting to express his feminine side. He gave me a big hug before we parted ways. This young man will go far.

Louise and I finished our shopping. I admit, I did spend the last 15 minutes plunked down in the waiting area while she had all the fabric cut. She took me out for seafood and beer afterwards. It was lovely, just like being in Baja.

Seafood at Puerto Marquez

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14 Responses to Tyler’s Plan

  1. You may be hearing about him on some talk show someday saying how this generous happenstance made his business happen and he is trying to find you. hahaa
    How perfectly wonderful of you to do!!!

  2. Ronda Koester says:

    That was so great..meeting someone else who has it in his mind to “pay it forward” and who would’ve thought you would find a guy in a fabric shop that you could give your c-note to!! P.S. I personally think that green was a terrific choice…because it is my favorite color!!!! 🙂

  3. Ginny says:

    Fabric Depot is one of my favorate places to shop. I’m sewer too so that is why I like it so well. I can understand if you don’t sew a lot how it could be boring for you. I’m so glad that you found someone that you could donate your c note to in my favorate store. You are good people!

    • Thanks, Ginny! I can see how FD is a treasure trove for people like you! I guess you could say I really appreciate the store even though I would personally rather be elsewhere. I’m glad for how it worked out with Tyler!! Thanks for reading. Jill

  4. Janet Jacobson says:

    Jill,
    This is such a great story. Reading it added some pure pleasure to my day.
    Thank you.
    Love,
    one of your blessed beneficiaries, never the same since, Janet

  5. Pru McDonald says:

    What a GREAT story to end the weekend with… Told in your usual straightforward way, as though we were strolling side by side down the street, and your warm and wonderful sense of humor that makes you so human, so down-to earth! Tyler is a cutie, and I too applaud his dreams… may they come true! And green is a comforting color for a mastiff of anyone, especially at Christmas!

    Never been to FD, but once spent two LOOOONG hours with a sewing friend at Jo Anne fabrics in Tigard… Not my cup of tea, either! But she needed a ride! You have an talent, Jill, or the intuition to pick just the one right person for your purposes, and I am in awe… AGAIN! Blessings, Pru
    Pru

  6. Pru McDonald says:

    P.S. If you explained or introduced “Louise” early on, I missed it, but am curious!

  7. Just goes to show that you can find amazing people anywhere. The money is such a small part of many of your experiences in meeting some wonderful people. If Tyler ever reads your comments, then I wish him well. He who gives back, receives tenfold in return. I believe that for him as well as for you, Jill. And of course I am not talking about anything material. Thank you for another magnificent story.

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