Adapt or die: Two downtown Salisbury businesses celebrate 40 years
By Amanda Raymond
The Stitchin’ Post Gifts store at 104 S. Main St. started out as a needlework shop.
“That was when cross stitch was just becoming popular in the United States,” Pam Coffield, owner of the store, said.
When Coffield and her mother Margaret first opened their store, they offered knitting, crocheting, macramé and embroidery to Salisbury’s downtown. They also taught hundreds of classes.
Today, the store sells gifts, apparel and accessories.
The Thread Shed Clothing store moved from two locations in downtown Salisbury before its spot on 133 S. Main St.
The store started out selling Levi’s and leisure suits.
“We put in some of the first girls’ jeans in town, and that was a major change,” Marcia Smith, store manager, said.
Now, the store sells uniforms, formal and causal wear and shoes. It specializes in embroidery and patching for uniforms for servicemen and students all around the Salisbury area.
This year marks the 40th year both of those downtown Salisbury stores have been in business.
Although there have been changes over the years, the stores’ ability to adapt to current trends and willingness to offer their customers the best of the best helped keep them in business all these years.
Changing with the times
The Stitchin’ Post was doing well as a needlework store until more women started working in the 1980s. So, Coffield and her mother slowly transformed the store into a country gift shop.
“At that time, everything was country and primitive,” Coffield said. The store sold items like wooden accent tables and farm animal figurines, but still had the needlework.
The ’90s were a decade of collectibles, so the store’s merchandise changed again, from cow figurines to beanie babies.
After that trend died, Coffield said customers started asking for fashion items and accessories. Around 2005, the store became what it is today.
There are sparkling rings, bracelets and necklaces are displayed on black tables. Kit Kat Klocks hang on the walls, ticking and shifting their eyes in time. The store is colorful with sections of walls painted pastel colors of green, yellow and blue. A dark red rug drapes the wooden floor. There are sandals, handbags and candles. There is also name brand merchandise from Alex and Ani, Brighton and TOMS.
Sasha, the fluffy gray and white cat, can be seen lounging about in the store.
Coffield said they let go of needlework 10 years ago.
“All of these changes require a business like us to diversify all the time. You cannot stay selling something that is dying,” Coffield said.
After selling the Levis and leisure suits, the Thread Shed moved on to sell clothing for the whole family.
“It was like a mini department store,” Cindy Loflin, Dave’s wife, said.
Loflin said with whatever he did, he wanted to specialize in it. So when the big chain department stores came to town, Loflin decided to change the children’s clothes they sold into children’s school uniforms. That was around the year 2000. The store also started offering embroidery and screen printing to label the uniforms with school names and logos.
The store now offers embroidery, screen printing, alterations, hemming and patches for children and all types of different workers.
“We specialize even more now to emergency service, police, fire, EMS, corporate,” Loflin said.
The store is a mixture of classy and southern, with everything from three-piece suits to cowboy boots. Work uniforms hang on racks throughout the store.
A picture of Dave Loflin, the store’s owner, and his father is displayed above the checkout counter. A collage of pictures saved over the years is framed and hanging on the front of a counter near the front door. The pictures include Loflin dressed in silly outfits from back when the store had crazy clearance sales.
Loflin said he used to compete with Mike Fuller at Innes Street Drug.
“It was a fun competition. He would win first place most of the time,” Loflin said. “But, I was in the paper seven years straight, so I felt like I was the biggest winner.”
Cindy Loflin said Dave could always see changes in trends coming.
“We fill a need. And when we fill a need we try to do it 100 percent,” Loflin said. “It’s just not surface. We try to go all the way.”
The customer comes first
Loflin does not only go all the way with product, but also with customer service.
The Loflins said they and their employees treat all of their customers the same, whether it is a major corporation looking to buy uniforms for 100 employees or the single employee looking for some new work boots.
“I, personally, am very proud of the way people are treated in the store,” Loflin said.
Loflin said their focus was never on making as much money as they could.
“We’ve never really wanted to see how much we could do. We’ve always wanted to see what we could do for you,” he said.
Coffield feels the same way. She said her and her staff work to provide over-the-top customer service.
“We would not be here if we did not believe in treating customers the right way and the way that they should be treated. They should be treated like royalty,” she said.
So what keeps a business going after 40 years?
For the Stitchin’ Post and the Thread Shed, it was hard work, adaptability and customer service that kept customers coming back.
Coffield said it is important to offer something different than the other stores.
“When we’re looking for new merchandise, we’re also looking for something that’s not already represented in this area,” she said.
Not every change works out, but Loflin said hard work will pay off.
“My thoughts have always been, yeah I’m going into business. It may or may not work,” Loflin said. “If it doesn’t work, my plan B would be my plan B anyway, so I’m going to give it a darn try.”
It is not always easy, but despite it all, both Loflin and Coffield said throwing in the towel was never an option.
“It never entered my mind to shut down. Never,” Coffield said.
“Dreams don’t come true unless you work for them,” Loflin said.
Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.
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