A generous crowd gathered Saturday, Sept. 3, for the re-opening and ribbon cutting of the new establishment. Sew Bee It was extensively damaged in the April tornado that passed through Ringgold, but Black described the situation as anything but a tragedy. Quite the opposite in fact.
“The business had grown very fast in 2010,” said Black. “When the tornado first happened, I was numb for about two weeks, but then it became a blessing. It (the business) was almost spiraling out of my reach and this brought it back, brought it to a center again, and good had to come from it. This was an opportunity for me to go in a direction I truly wanted to go. We saw it as a great opportunity to start from scratch and give it our own personality.”
Black, a retired registered nurse who bought the business in 2007, said her faithful employees never missed a day of work after the storm, even when she couldn’t pay them. She described them as “one big family” who never questioned they would pick up and start over, spending countless hours cleaning fabric and yarn that could be sal-vaged and doing whatever else was necessary.
Built on the same exact spot as the old, the new building was one of the first Ringgold businesses to be leveled and re-opened within 100 days of the tornado. Black’s daughter, Susan Black, described the new vision as “less in-dustrialized” and brighter, with lots of “good energy” and color. A new “knitting” element was incorporated and a large inventory of yarn is now available.
Gloria said the new store offers inspiration to young and old alike.
“There’s something for everybody,” she said. “For older ones who are used to hand-quilting, we have old pat-terns, but we have a lot to offer the younger ones too with more modern ideas.”
Aside from the grand re-opening and its festivities, Black said she was also celebrating another very special memory of her late husband, Houston Black. Houston, a very prominent and beloved member of the community, served for 50 years in the Catoosa County school system. She said even when her husband was very sick with cancer, he encouraged her to pursue the quilting store, which has often been her motivation.
“Today would’ve been my 50th wedding anniversary,” she said. “I thought this would be such a special way to remember him and celebrate. He would’ve been so disappointed if I had just sat at home and not moved on. He was a ‘worker’ and so am I. This is a ‘new life’ for me. It’s a way to use my creativity and meet people and stay active. I love every minute of it.”
Black said she hopes everyone that walks through the door will “feel like family” and get inspired by all the per-sonality and color and new vision. She said she is very excited about her future and this “next stage” of her life.
“That’s what life is — a series of passages,” said Black. “You come from one part of your life, one age, and you progress, and as you progress, you gain wisdom. By the time you’re in my time of life, you’ve pretty much experi-enced just about everything, so this, then, is a celebration time, not a time for sorrow.”