Respect: The Mill Outlet turns 50

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As of this week, the Mill Outlet Fabric Shop officially turns 50 years old. For those in the know, that means the biggest sale in its history with daily giveaways and prizes.

For those scratching their heads, welcome to the party. The Mill Outlet, nestled in a very unassuming building across from an old bowling alley off Fillmore Road, is THE place to buy fabric and sewing supplies. I'm no sewer, but my mom is, and growing up we shopped there for school costumes, cotton for pillows we'd craft, and whatever fun stuff we'd dig out of the remnants bins.

We'd marvel at the lovely Asian-style silks, the cotton prints that come in any color and interest under the sun (I'm serious, there's a fabric for every sports team, every hobby, every holiday ...) and admire those crafty types who could upholster their own furniture or stitch their own wedding dresses. Any kind of cord or fringe you desire, they have it; all manner of buttons to pick through, those too; all those bolts of luminous satins or some other difficult material to work with, they've got them and the people who know how to do it shop there.

I even remember hanging around in the box-like play area for kids. So yeah, basically the Mill Outlet and I go way back. And it's hung on despite the surge in online shopping and big box stores and the decline in mass interest in sewing.

Do your thing Mill Outlet.
Mill Outlet Fabric Shop Keeps Springs In Stitches for 50 Years

In the half-century since it first opened in 1965, many things have changed at Mill Outlet Fabric Shop. One thing that hasn't changed is that they still have the largest selection of fabric in southern Colorado. But they have had to adapt from a time when they first opened in the mid 60’s and sewing was booming in America. At that time, women spent record amounts on sewing, including fabric, patterns, notions and sewing machines.

Although the numbers of people sewing clothes for themselves have declined in the last 50 years since they first opened, there has been a boom in people quilting, home decorating and “do it yourselfers” buying fabric.

DIY trends like upcycling old furniture keeps people buying fabric, as people spend time repairing and reupholstering quality-made used furniture. Quilting continues to grow in popularity with over 12.5 million American households reporting an active quilter, spending over $2.25 billion on fabric and supplies.

Enthusiasm for fabric has allowed Mill Outlet to continue to flourish even in an era of big box stores and online shopping.

“Because of our size, we have been able to stay true to what we are: ‘a Fabric Shop’. While the big fabric chains move away carrying fabric for sewers and chase every crafting fad that comes along, we continue to find quality fabric that people that sew are searching for,” said store owner, Johann Kuehn.

This week marks Mill Outlet’s 50th anniversary and the store is having the biggest sale in its history, including daily giveaways and special prizes for shoppers.

“The move to online shopping has affected us a bit the last 10-15 years,” said Beate Dietrich, the stores General Manager. “But the reality is that people shopping for fabric want to touch and feel the fabric they are purchasing.”

“If someone is going to take the time to make something themselves, they want to start with quality fabric,” added Dietrich.

Even the store's central location near Fillmore and Prospect is a symbol for how much things have changed in the last 50 years. “For 50 years we have been telling customers who call we are located next to the ‘North End Post Office’," said Kuehn. “The reality is that 50 years ago this was the north end.”

A quick drive (or Google search) around the surrounding neighborhoods shows the effect Mill Outlet has had by being anchored down in the same location for five decades. There are a dozen upholsterers, interior decorators, sewing rooms and other fabric related businesses within a half mile radius of their location at 2906 N. Prospect.

“We’ve been doing business with them for over 20 years,” said Phillip Bodjanac, owner of European Upholstery located just a few blocks away on El Paso. “They are very convenient and a pleasure to work with”

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Mill Outlet Fabric Shop is located in prides itself on bringing the best, service, fabric & supplies to sewers, upholsters and weekend project warriors in the rocky mountain west. In business for over 50 years at the same location at 2906 N. Prospect, Colorado Springs.

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