After more than six years of face-to-face trading at 40 W37th Street, Gotham Quilts is to close its store and move the business completely online. The quilters’ paradise will offer all of its services virtually, including classes, kits, threads and fabrics.
A downturn in business at the Garment District store since the pandemic has led to the pivot by owners Ivete Tecedor and Andrea Deal. The historic neighborhood was highlighted in Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul’s “New New York” plan as a potential target for commercial to residential rezoning, with The Garment District Alliance recently releasing a research report outlining the potential to add over 3,000 new housing units.
“The in-store part of the business just never returned. We used to have a ton of tourist business. Tourists are back to some extent but not to what they used to be, especially international tourists. We used to have a ton of international tourists and now it’s few and far between,” said Ivete.
“If the pandemic hadn’t hit, we would not be closing our store. We would expand,” she added. “At some point, we realized that you can’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole forever. At some point, you have to admit it’s not working.”
Andrea taught Ivete how to quilt, and the pair decided to open Gotham Quilts when they saw a gap in the market, gravitating towards the modern style of quilting which features more vibrant colors than traditional quilts.
At first they worked online only, but as business took off Ivete and Andrea opened their Garment District store — and before COVID hit were looking to expand Gotham Quilts to more locations. They also had plans to bring in teachers from out of town and had pre-sold $20,000 worth of tickets for a conference they had scheduled for that summer. Then the pandemic struck and everything changed.
“The pandemic is 100% the reason we’re closing and its because of all the changes that happened. The new reality is that Midtown is not the same as it used to be. It’s like everything is stacked against us, basically,” said Ivete.
Writing in their blog, the pair expanded on their plans for the future: “It’s a bad time to be a retail store in midtown Manhattan. If you’re been in our store in the last three years, you were likely the only one shopping. A few months ago we switched to only being open for in-person shopping three days a week — and even with the reduced hours, the store is mostly empty when we’re open. If you’ve signed up for a class, you probably then found out it was canceled due to lack of enrollment.
“On the other hand, because of the initial pandemic shutdown, we figured out how to expand our online offerings with virtual retreats, lectures and subscription programs. Our customers continue to shop with us online, attend virtual events and sign up for subscription programs. We will again be online-only like we were at the beginning, but with many more ways to interact with you, including vending at select events.”
With a closing date sometime in December, Gotham Quilts are offering trade-in discounts on the highly-regarded Bernina machines, which Ivete describes as “super smooth and luxurious” like a Mercedes car. All in-stock inventory is on sale, with 10-50% off while supplies last.
Opening hours are Thursday-Saturday from 12-6pm. In-person classes are no longer available but Gotham Quilts is still offering virtual classes. The online shop will continue to be open without interruption.