An Inuvik-based online fabric and craft store was launched earlier this month, allowing seamstresses and artists from all over Canada to gain access to a wide variety of fabrics and other crafting accessories that are unique to the North.
Bernice Lavoie, the owner of local craft store Just Raven’ Fabrics & More, said that the idea to expand her business online had been on her mind for years.
“I had customer feedback saying that it’s hard sometimes for the customers to get the fabrics and what-not,” said Lavoie. “In order to provide the surrounding communities the accessibility to products, I should go online. The goal was to supply them. I guess that’s how it came to be.”
Items available for purchase on the store’s website includes beads, fabrics, needles, thread, yarn, zippers and more. Animal furs, such as fox, rabbit and beaver, are also offered online.
“Pretty much all the basics that you need – I guess you can say – for traditional sewing,” said Lavoie.
Quilting materials are also being sold online, as well as jewelry pieces such as ear wire. Strout is also available, an item that Lavoie said is hard to come by in the North.
“When I started getting the strout a number of years ago, that’s what really pushed the idea to do the online sales, because something like that, you don’t just buy small quantities,” she said. “I like to sew myself, and I know what it’s like and how frustrating it is to not have the product.”
She added that she felt that an online service and presence needed to be filled in the community.
“I think it’s the way to go. Everybody is shopping online. It’s very convenient,” she said.
A standard shipping fee of $30 is applied to all online purchases, but Lavoie said that customers are able to select an option where they can simply place their order on the website and pay for their products when they come and pick it up at the store.
“We try to do it as conveniently as possible. A lot of local people don’t have a credit card. They might have cash but they don’t have a credit card,” she said. “If that’s the case, why not have the pickup? Those are the people I’m catering to; the seamstresses and what-not.”
Although the site hasn’t garnered much traffic yet, she said that she expects business to pick up once summer comes to an end.
“In the fall, when people settle down after their summer holidays and the sun goes down, it’s harder to get out. People want to do something,” she said.
After being in business for over 30 years, Lavoie said that her and her husband had contemplated retirement, but have postponed talks after the advent of the online store.
“Maybe this can be our little retirement business, rather than doing what we’re doing now…Something to keep us going while we’re settling down in retirement age,” she said.