Betty’s Fabrics closes SLO, CA, sewing and craft store


Betty’s Fabrics is closing its San Luis Obispo location after 45 years.

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Betty Pilkington remembers opening her fabric store in San Luis Obispo in 1973.

“It was during the big flood,” she said. “I remember there were just waves of students going up and down Higuera (street) in canoes.”

Pilkington has been in the fabric store business for 58 years, operating Betty’s Fabrics stores on the Central Coast. Its Santa Maria store closed in 2016, following in the footsteps of closed Betty’s Fabrics stores in Lompoc and Santa Barbara.

Now, its San Luis Obispo location at 1229 Carmel St. is expected to close by the end of the month.

“It’s just that we have two generations of people who never learned to sew,” Pilkington said. “Talk to anyone in college or in their 30s today and they can’t even sew a button on their shirt. It’s just different times, and we’re going buggy whip.

Betty’s Fabrics is selling the last of its stock: sewing machines, haberdashery, thread and, of course, fabric.

“I’ve sold a lot but I still have a lot to sell,” Pilkington said. “I’ve collected a lot of items over the years, so I even sell old items that I’ve had for a while. They’re selling well.

Pilkington already has plans for many of her remaining products – donating them to causes she has supported over the years.

“I will be donating some things to the (PCPA-Pacific Conservatory Theater) in Santa Maria and nearby college theater programs,” Pilkington said. “I’ll also donate yarn to seniors’ homes because they love to knit, and I’ve done that before.”

Pilkington said she loved every moment of her career.

“I’ve had wonderful clients and wonderful girls,” she said. “We’ve had very talented quilters who also make their own clothes, which is very important to me as I run a large-scale shop.”

For Pilkington, it was the customers who made the experience.

“We had a lot of repeat customers and it was always wonderful to see what they were working on,” she said. “Customers have been really nice to me, and even though they’re sad to see me go, I’m just happy with what I have to do.”

Jarod Urrutia 805-783-7614

This story was originally published July 23, 2018 3:19 p.m.

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