Obies, the fabric hoarding store of your dreams

Goodville, Pennsylvania is just a blip of a town. You drive through it before you realize you even arrived. Its biggest claim to fame is the legendary hoard of quilting fabric in Obies Country Store, an unassuming clapboard house with a 1960s sign over the porch.

A friend and I went fabric shopping there last week, like going to Fabric Mecca on Holiday. I was overwhelmed just by stepping inside. This is extreme hoarding without the bad smells or squashed cats.

obies fabric hoard

Come on in!  This is what you see when you open the door. Be brave! Keep going!

Once upon a time Obies was a country store that featured gifts, quilts and penny candy. And 8-foot Raggedy Ann dolls. (I’m not making this up.) Then the fabric started to take over with a vengeance. Total domination, actually.  I think at this point the fabric is holding up the roof and the walls. I hope there isn’t a basement to collapse into because I can only imagine how much weight those joists are bearing.

piles of fabric at obies in Lancaster

Yes, you really can be totally surrounded by fabric. Single file only. Leave your coat and handbag in the car, or you’ll regret having the extra bulk.

Fabric is now crammed in from floor to ceiling in every available inch of space. The aisles are tunnels for one person at a time. There are step stools for access to the top of stacks. The lighting is bad.

This is not a store for the claustrophobic. Or the Fire Marshall. I was afraid of causing an avalanche.

This is not a store for leisurely browsing, picking fabric up and dreaming, “Does this go with this? Oooo! Look at this! How about this one?” No way. You’d better go prepared, on a mission for a polka dot in cherry red and white or a 1930s retro print that will coordinate with the swatch you brought from home.

Everything is logically arranged by fabric type and color. And you’re not left to fend for yourself. The lady (Nan?) at the front asks what you’re looking for and KNOWS WHERE EVERYTHING IS. Do you want long discontinued American Jane School Days by Moda? Batik? Plaid? A cucumber print? No problem! (I am not kidding about the cucumber print.)

just part of a shelf

The blue section. Part of it, anyway.

It’s impossible to see most of the fabric because it’s wedged in flat with no room to spare. Heaps of bolts are stacked in front of overstuffed shelves, so there’s no guessing how much is hidden from view. Pulling fabric out requires digging–the top bolt has to be wiggled out and then you pull out a bolt and pull another and another until the fabric you want to see is revealed. Getting it back? HAHAHAHA!

I found this frustrating because I WANT to browse and use my imagination and put two and three together. It can’t be done. Maybe if you had an area the size of an airport and a platoon of fabric handlers you could spread it all out and have a field day.

Obies is organized by color

That bare space on the right? That’s the cutting table–a full 36″ with nothing piled on it! See my friend in the back? She’s six feet tall and dwarfed.

You won’t find the newest collections here. The fabric is all past season, all discounted, and totally worth the trip. If you need more fabric for a quilt your mom started in 1990 it’s probably still waiting for you on the shelves at Obies. Somewhere. Good luck!

And there’s more on the upper level! Quilts. Christmas tree skirts. Baskets. Potholders. Placemats. Stuff! Etc. Ad infinitum. All made by local Mennonite and Amish families.

view from the upper floor

Looking down from the second floor. I wonder how you get to those baskets? Levitate?

log cabin heart quilt

I loved this variation of Log Cabin. It was queen sized and a little over $800. I didn’t buy it.

I DID get some bubblegum pink fabric to finish the sashing on a 1940s quilt top I want to finish. And a bunch of red prints to coordinate with vintage tablecloth bits. And some fabric to make a dress for a special little person.

take enough home

See the buried soda fridge? I love the sign that says Take Enough Home. Clearly impossible, but such a nice idea!

Thinking of heading to Obies? You’ll find it at 1585 Main Street in Goodville PA. That’s Rt. 23. You might need to use East Earl PA 17519 with GPS.

8 Comments on “Obies, the fabric hoarding store of your dreams”

  1. Oh, my, what a wonderful place!! Although I can imagine it might be a tad frustrating if the fabric your heart just has to have is on the bottom of one of those piles … 🙂

    • janeray says:

      The sales lady is happy to help customers dig, which is a huge relief. I found she was really picky about bolts going back in the same place.

  2. Sujata Shah says:

    I am so going there soon! SO glad I found your blog too! I love your stuff on Instagram!!!

  3. Vivian says:

    How are the yardage prices? If reasonable enough, worth the flight into Philli with empty suitcases! 🙂