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Last Stitch Sewn at Quilted Basket

After 14 years, downtown Falls' largest business is closing its doors as the owner recovers from personal health issues.

After 14 years as an anchor business in downtown Menomonee Falls, the tapping of sewing machines will cease and the stacks of fabrics will disappear at the Quilted Basket.

Ann Wanke has decided to step away from the stressful and hectic life of a small business owner, to take time to recover from some personal health issues she’s been dealing with. She made it clear her health issues aren’t life threatening, but simply needs time for rest and relaxation.

“It’s going to be tough,” Wanke said. “Truly my love has always been to share and educate people about sewing.”

Wanke will be hosting a liquidation sale starting 9 a.m. Thursday. All their quilts, merchandise, machines and other products will be discounted until everything is gone. She has hundreds of quilts that will be on sale. Wanke is working with a liquidation company that helped sell off the inventory when Woolworth’s closed.

An Anchor of Downtown 

Wanke started Quilted Basket in her home while she was also teaching math from her home. She opened her first 800-square-foot retail location near North Middle School where the Americana Beauty salon once existed. She moved the business to a spot nestled along Main Street. Just two years ago, Wanke moved a third time to a 4,000-square-foot newly renovated building.

It was the largest downtown retailer in Falls.

“We thought this was going to be our flagship until the end, but we didn’t anticipate the end coming this soon,” Wanke said.

Quilted Basket isn’t just a staple of downtown Falls. Wanke has nurtured customer base that reaches to areas across the Midwest. She’s recently been doing design work for a companies in New York, which has given her an international audience.

“We were one of the few businesses of this kind in this area, so this will be devastating to the sewing community,” Wanke said. “All of that will go away. There isn’t another store that offers the full service that we do.”

More Than a Business 

Quilted Basket always served as a gathering place for sewing and quilting enthusiasts from all over. The store hosted hundreds of clubs, taught lessons to folks young and old, and served simply as a place for people to build community and camaraderie.

“The friendships I’ve built have been most rewarding. The people come in and share their personal stories, nurses at the hospital would even come down and just touch the fabrics if they were having a bad day,” Wanke said. “Kind of the Cheers bar for women!”

Aside from her business, Wanke was always a champion of building a thriving downtown in Menomonee Falls. She served on the Business Improvement District Board, and always said she would be located in the Village Centre.

“I’ve always been committed to small downtowns. I just really believe in small business, versus strip malls on the edge of town” Wanke said. “I hope something great goes in here. We need people from Falls to shop in the Falls, but we’ve been saying that for 15 years. We desperately need retailers downtown”

For more information on The Quilted Basket, visit them online

W . Benz April 16, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Maybe the owner of the Bld. can lower the rent and or buy the business , another $$$ grant might help. Now who's the anchor downtown ?
Carl Engelking April 17, 2013 at 12:35 AM
I dunno perhaps it's AJs? But again, her closing was primarily for health reasons.
Richard April 17, 2013 at 11:27 AM
That whole block will need some TLC. Add to it the Griddlers Cafe plus some Main Street vacancies and one can see some real deep seated problems for the downtown area. Thank goodness for AJ's or the downtown would be a complete wreck. The BID needs some new, fresh input. Good that we have a couple of new trustees perhaps with new and fresh ideas.
Di Atribe April 17, 2013 at 02:29 PM
It's too bad she couldn't find someone to buy the business. I guess retail outlets that cater to a niche hobby must a tough go.
Caliente April 17, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Richard....I doubt it. I watched fhe forum and these two will have to take not days but months to find the rest rooms at village hall.
Unions_NO April 17, 2013 at 05:20 PM
@John Green: ",,, these two will have to take not days but months to find the rest rooms at village hall." Sorry. Don't get it.

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