A SOUTHEASTERN TRADITIONWaechter's Silk Shop is the oldest fabric store in the Southeast. It opened on March 6, 1929 in the historic Grove Arcade building in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.
When the Federal Government expropriated the Arcade during World War II for wartime uses, Waechter's moved around the corner to Haywood Street. The shop has moved 3 times to larger spaces and now resides at 9-D Reed ST in Biltmore Village.
HOW THE SHOP GOT ITS NAMEGeorge Waechter, Sr. who came to Asheville from Louisville, Kentucky, founded Waechter's Silk Shop. He was the son of a German tailor and had fabric in his blood. The scissors that his father used in Germany were displayed in the store for decades. In keeping with the name of his store, George Waechter carried only silk goods at first including fabrics, stockings, handkerchiefs, gloves, undergarments, shirts and hosiery for both men and women.
Gradually more silks were added and Waechter's began to carry laces. The silk fabric and laces for Cornelia Vanderbilt's bridesmaids and several of the wedding guests were purchased from Waechter's. Wealthy customers would have their drivers deliver them to the store to choose fabrics for their dressmakers. Many of the store's customers were summer residents who lived in Florida the remainder of the year.
GROWING TO SERVE CUSTOMER'S DIVERSE NEEDSMr. Waechter expanded his inventory to satisfy his growing customer base. Linens were added including yard goods, toweling, and handkerchiefs. Today Waechter's Silk Shop still carries linen toweling and hankies, and still has customers who learned to sew tea towels from Irish linen their mothers bought from Mr. Waechter.
Cottons were then added the finest pima cottons from Europe, Anderson gingham, and cottons from Liberty of London and Tootal of England. Today Waechter's Silk Shop still carries the wonderful Liberty of London fabrics.
A NEW OWNER & TRUSTED FAMILY MEMBERIn 1967, Sally Hickerson got an after-school job in the drug store down the street from the fabric store. Sally learned to sew from her two grandmothers and an aunt and like the Waechters, had thread in her veins. She spent much of her drug store money on fabric and even after she went off to college, she continued to purchase fabric from the store.
After years of college, traveling, and sewing, Sally returned to Asheville and renewed her friendship with the Waechters and began working in the store. One day she wished out loud to own her own business and in 1981, Sally Hickerson bought the store.
A new era in the store's long history began. Sally expanded inventory selections, hired reliable and knowledgeable staff, developed classes, started a newsletter and swatch mailing service, and strengthened relationships with customers, vendors, and colleagues in the industry.
BUILDING ON A RESPECTED TRADITIONIn 2005 Joyce Yarling purchased Waechter's Silk Shop. You can read more about her in the About Our Owner Article. Her first goals were to computerize the point of sale systems and greatly expand the website. By 2006 everything at Waechter's was on-line.
Simultaneously, the dressmakers and staff began sewing samples from our many lines of boutique pattern companies. Over the next three years the sample collection grew so large that most of our patterns could be seen up close and personal in 3-D. Next thing to come to life was our gallery of inspirational samples that we added to www.waechters.com. We created a secondary gallery of inspirational techniques used in our samples. This gallery is named Details for Inspiration. We also have a gallery of children's garments we have enjoyed creating for your perusal. Several informative articles were added to the website. There are many reasons to find information and inspiration as you learn about Waechter's.
Waechter's website has attracted an international following. Some of our best customers hail from Singapore, Canada, England and down under. Of course we ship all over the United States. We constantly cut and send samples for approval before ordering.
In 2009 Waechter's Silk Shop moved into 9-D Reed Street in Biltmore Village. When we changed our location, our name became Waechter's Fine Fabrics. Over eight decades, Waechter's reputation for specializing in natural fiber fabrics commanded a name that better described who we are. Hence Waechter's Fine Fabrics became our expanded identity and inspired an update to a more contemporary logo.
Once the dust of our Herculean move settled, we began our latest creation named SewWow. SewWow.com is an on-line e-magazine dedicated to sewing for children. Many mothers and grandmothers are coming back to sewing through their beloved little people. We decided to inspire them with our creative ideas. Included in our e-zine are how-to articles, book reviews, notion reviews, sewing hints and skills, and of course our fabulous garments. All the garments are available for purchase in kit form. Most kits are geared for the intermediate seamstress. SewWow is a quarterly venture that we all love bringing to life.
We continue to create new ways to inspire and educate through our store and on-line presence. It's impossible to predict where the future will take us in our constant passion and love for growing Waechter's Fine Fabrics and now SewWow.com.