The Heart of the Quilting Community

It’s interesting how every community is composed of overlapping circles of smaller communities…we, for instance, are part of a neighborhood community, a preservation community, an art community, a university community, a garden community and more.  We value these circles and like the network they provide for us.

In addition to the above, I’m a member of the community of quilters and the heart of that little community for decades has been Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest.  It’s kind of like “Cheers”…everybody knows your name.  Store owners Sylvia and Bill Dorney are friends and neighbors…both are past traditional retirement age, both are wanting less work and more time with grandsons, travel, fun…we all get THAT.  The business has been for sale for two years, with the Dorney’s agreeing before it went on the market that after two years if it hadn’t sold they would close.  Today’s headline tells the tale.

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Sylvia and Bill took over the dry-goods business that had been in Sylvia’s family for 116 years and re-imagined it into a quilt store, just as people were not sewing their own clothes but WERE starting to quilt.  I wasn’t a quilter at the time and wondered how that would go for them…gang-busters is the answer.  Over the years the store was often rated in the top 20 of such stores nationally.

They knew their clientele, they were willing to order things you might need, and their stock was up to the minute.  So today I went in for a last haul BEFORE the sales start as a thank-you for all this place has meant to me and to so many of us.  I shopped big and it was fun…but sad.  No more turkey pops at Thanksgiving, no more red punch cards, no more good advice about the best way to do this or that, or help choosing the PERFECT backing or how to store 5 yards of wool batting…yep…we a little bit have our hearts broken today.  We know we’ll heal BUT…here’s how it looked…




here’s store mascot Lovey…


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Lisa cutting my batting…a 16 year employee with a LOT of know-how…



redeeming my last punch cards…


The only good part was Sylvia’s grin from ear to ear.  Good bye friends.



  1. My goodness. This makes me feel sad and I don’t quilt! Years ago, I bought fabric here for clothes making. Salem was much richer for having such a store in our midst. I liked to go in just for the impact of the design and color arrangements. Sorry to see it close! Sorry for the fabulous resource that is being lost by the quilting community! Phooey!

  2. What a lovely tribute to a business which, from what you say, has been a great part of the community for such a long time – really sad to read something like this. It looks like just the sort of quilt shop I would love to visit! 🙂

  3. It will be a big loss for downtown Salem. What a great success it’s been. It’s a magical place for quilters and all of us that love color and creating! I have memories as a little girl (50+ years ago), going with Mom to shop. She loved sewing with wool, making skirts, suits, and jackets. Greenbaum’s had the best selection, and quality fabrics.

  4. Truly sorry for your loss Bonnie….when i saw the article in the paper i thought of you. And the entire community. It was a wonderful asset, whether one was a quilter or not. Thank you for the photos. You captured the magic of the place.

  5. oh bonnie, we read your blog this morning and after breakfast, hurried down town to pick up things (needles, batting, embroidery thread, strong safety pins, and the like) that i can get nowhere else. greenbaum’s was always about quality of goods. my ticket was punched and filled by sylvia in an incredible act of generosity as she had forgotten to take into account the birthday coupon greenbaum’s always sends me in june. the plans for the sale and for the many demonstrations and possible free gifts and more, the celebration around closing, sylvia shared with us smiling with enthusiasm. we told her we had read about the closing in your blog. she said she gets your wonderful blog too, and that you were her neighbors. still, all in all, it’s a sad loss for salem.

  6. Oh, how sad. As you know, I have fond memories of visiting Greenbaum’s with my grandmother over 40 years ago. I’ve loved going in there since, seeing the friendly people and enjoying their enthusiasm for sewing. The sound of the floors and the scent of the walls is a childhood memory I’ll never forget. Many thanks to Sylvia for keeping the doors open all these years. I know the store is revered by quilters from many miles away. Best wishes to Sylvia and her husband in retirement.

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