Wednesday, September 17, 2014

on the road again....

Having 20 DMC cabinets to sell to Erin of Needlepoint Land occasioned many memories of why Needle Nicely could possess so many empty cabinets.  A bit of history.

Needle Nicely began in Blowing Rock, NC, in the mid-1970s.  It was (and even today in Florida is) a seasonal business, which anyone will tell you is the most difficult type of business to operate successfully.

Trubey opened Needle Nicely in Vero Beach in October, 1981.  I was her store manager in both Vero Beach and Blowing Rock.  She owned the building (the Hayes House) in Blowing Rock, but we rented in Vero Beach in the Village Shops.  There our lease specified that we had to maintain the same hours year-round.  That was a real bummer since in 1981 Vero in the summer was a vast wasteland of empty condominiums.  I understand the rationale--no one wanted to drive to Vero and then discover that half of the shops weren't open. Still, it made for very lonely days in retail businesses.

The beginning of May every year after 1981 I would start packing inventory to take to the Blowing Rock shop which we opened mid-May.   I would load a U-Haul trailer and drive up I-95 North until I reached I-20 in South Carolina, then head west  to Columbia where I would go North on I-26 and then I-77 through Charlotte to I-85 in Gastonia where I would take 321 through Hickory and Lenoir to Blowing Rock.  About a 16-hour day.  Whoopee!
I have to chuckle to myself when I look at this picture.  At 40-something I was so agile and supple--Sigh, those were the days!!!  And after loading that UHaul trailer I still had the energy to climb on top of those boxes and pose.  And then at 6am the next morning I took this photograph before starting on the drive north.

 The back story is that immediately after snapping this photograph, I blinked and my right hard  contact lens popped out and into the parking lot, never to be seen again.  Instead of climbing into the Bronco, I went back inside (before cell phones!!), called Trubey waking her up, and told her I could manage to drive with no problem with only one eye, but she had to meet me in Hickory and drive up "the mountain".  As it turned out, she met me with her son Jack and his friend Bryan.  The two young men drove the UHaul and Bronco up the mountain.  Whew!!  I was delighted to get to my apartment in Blowing Rock and resurrect my spare lens from its storage place under the sink in my bathroom.  My only excuse for not having it with me in Vero Beach was that I had never lost a lens in over 20 years.  And that happened to be the only one I did lose before I stopped wearing them. 

For years, the Hayes House sat there waiting for our return.  Then, there was another upsurge in real estate values.  Trubey and I discussed it.  We had seen this upsurge before and ignored it.  But this time, we realized that a building is only worth as much as someone will pay for it.  You may think it is worth X, but it isn't if no one else thinks so.  So Trubey sold the building at what we think was the top of that real estate market.  Then we looked for a summer location.  We located a small kiosk about half a block from the Hayes House and across the street.  It was 10x10 with no heat or air conditioning.  It was 3 walls with a 4th wall of double doors that opened out.  We put in counters on the two sides with poles underneath to hold canvases.  The end wall had a display case with finished Christmas ornaments.  There were also shelves along the top to display finished pillows.  It was quite cozy.  I had baskets with stitch 'n zips and small canvases that I placed outside sort of as doorstops.

Ironically, I always managed to get the inventory unpacked and displayed, but my suitcases stayed in disarray on the bedroom floor.  That explains why one needlepoint project took me over 8 years to complete--it was always buried under unpacked clothing!!!


  1. Wow! The things we used to do. Glad you are still up and running. And blogging.

  2. Absolutely love this story and the pics! ps the DMC boxes are doing great in their new home!

  3. What wonderful memories this entry brings me. After moving from Florida to Maryland in 1982, I visited with dear friends each year in - you guessed it! - Merritt Island and Boone. An essential part of these visits were trips to Needle Nicely. My dearest friend, who passed away several years ago, purchased and stitched Peter Ashe stocking for each member of her family. I chose designs from several artists, including a beautiful Wise Men stocking that I believe was designed by Trubey. I am so happy to read that you are doing well. Thanks for some wonderful times.