After ten years at , Eileen Aird is passing the torch.
Finalizing her decision to retire earlier this year, Aird initially thought she would be closing the store that has become a pit stop for local stitchers.
“People were heartbroken,” Aird said of customers who heard she was closing. “They were panicked, because they didn't know where they were going to go.”
Despite rumors of the store closing for good, Aird found someone as passionate as she is about stitching to take over her role.
Starting Sept. 1, Vanessa Holloschutz of Franklin Lakes will take over the business that has grown from a needlepoint store into a community over the years.
“We’ve really created a community of stitchers,” Aird said about her customers, explaining that her store does not only sell materials to practice needlepoint but also provides lessons and ‘Stitch and Chat’ sessions that have created a neighborhood-like atmosphere of individuals over the years.
Needlepoint is a form of counted thread embroidery where yarn is stitched through a stiff, open weave canvas. Since it is a niche market and an expensive hobby, not many opportunities to open a business concentrating on the art have opened up for Holloschutz in the past.
“I first thought about owning a needlepoint store about three years ago, because I’ve been [practicing needlepoint] almost my entire lift,” Holloschutz said. “But I knew I couldn’t do it because it’s a very small niche market and there’s not a big demand."
Once Aird announced she was retiring, Holloschutz realized the potential to continue the business as well as Aird’s legacy.
As the mother of two high school-aged children, Holloschutz realized she was needed less at home and jumped on the opportunity to own a business: “All of the sudden, it was happening,” Holloschutz said of acquiring the store.
Though not a traditional businesswoman herself, Holloschutz has been a loyal customer at Ridgewood Needlepoint for several years and is dedicated to the art.
She plans to keep the already-established staff and continue with the communal attributes of Ridgewood Needlepoint, such as the ‘Stitch and Chat’ sessions and group lessons.
“You make friends there,” Holloschutz said of the store. “That’s definitely important.”
In the future, Holloschutz hopes to expand the online aspects of the business with a Facebook account, and plans to continue with the Ridgewood Needlepoint Blog that Aird has faithfully contributed to over the years.
“I’m really excited, I hope people come in and check it out. I’ll have some beginner classes as well as intermediate and advanced classes and I hope to get some new stitchers,” Holloschutz said. “I’ll also host birthday parties and teach Girl Scout Troops.”
Though needlepoint is an “expensive hobby” and “not a money-maker,” Holloschutz plans to keep the business as long as she can break even.
“This is a great opportunity and I won’t mess it up,” she said.
Now Aird’s and Holloschutz’s roles will reverse, despite Aird’s plans to move to Tuscan, AZ.
“I have loved owning Ridgewood Needlepoint,” Aird said. “When I decided to retire, I was thrilled Vanessa would continue Ridgewood Needlepoint. I look forward to being a loyal customer, although a distant one!”