Evolution of Learning

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #93, September, 2021. Written by Rita Farro.)

The heartbeat and lifeblood of the sewing business has always been classes. When the COVID pandemic hit, sewing machine dealers, fabric stores, and quilt shops across the country were forced to close their doors. Whether or not a business survived COVID was often a matter of whether or not they were able to transfer their classroom/customer experience to the internet.

Video Conferencing

Now, the big question is what do all the changes of the last year and a half mean? Will our beloved, tried-and-true model of in-person classes ever come back? The truth is that you can never un-ring a bell. And in the history of the world, once technology makes an advance, it never goes back. Nobody is making black-and-white televisions, and you can’t remember the last time you rode in a car with no air-conditioning. That was then and this is now. The advancements in digital/virtual technology have forever changed the way we deliver sewing education and information. The question is, is that a good thing? Debbie Byrne’s family has been in the fabric business for generations. In 1944, her great-great-great grandfather had a mercantile store in Philadelphia. In 1980, Debbie and her husband, Mike, opened their first fabric store, Byrne’s Sewing Connection, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and she has witnessed many changes over the years. In 1980, a snail mail newsletter was the main way for a store to communicate with their customers. The newsletter would announce sales, special events, and classes. Debbie says, When we started out, the cost of sending our newsletter was $1,000. Twenty years later, sending our newsletter cost $10,000. So, yes, we were eager to embrace the internet. It’s no wonder snail mail newsletters became extinct faster than you can say, Where’s my VCR?

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