Tu-Na Travels: Day Five, 274 Miles, 8 Shops, Only 27 Shops Remaining

Just as I expected, morning came early.

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There is nothing better than a bowl of piping hot oatmeal topped with spoonfuls of brown sugar, raisins, chopped nuts and some milk to get the tired body ready for another busy day of traveling and shop hopping.

Even the countryside seems to be decorated for the quilt shop hop. We had seen a barn quilt yesterday, too, but weren’t able to get a picture as we were in a hurry. Visit this site for a quilt trail map to see more barn quilts located in several counties in Minnesota and watch a video of how those painted quilt blocks were hung in Carver County.

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We saw this barn quilt on the road between Litchfield and Kimball.

Our second shop of the day, Gone to Pieces in Kimball, had me very excited. My husband noticed the scrap bin in the back and I accepted the challenge to stuff that snack bag full.

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I’m collecting scraps for my 1.5″ postage stamp quilt. I’ve cut and sewed several thousand already but have still more to go. I stuffed this snack Ziploc bag as full as I could make it and then added a few more pieces for good measure.

I needed a bit of help in getting it closed so while my fabric was being cut, Tu-Na Helper rose to the challenge and did his little magic of pushing and shoving that fabric into place. He worked and worked and finally presented the sealed bag. We all cheered. It was mighty full.

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It took him awhile but he managed to get it closed. It stayed put long enough for us to pay, say our goodbyes, and get out the door. I also saw a good idea for making a ruler tote which I will work on at home.

We would be checking out of the Central region at Gruber’s Quilt Shop so we turned our Prius towards Waite Park. When we arrived, we were cheerfully greeted and had our passports stamped. Who could this gal behind the desk be? She was so full of energy and happiness. I had to find out. We received our incentive prizes: a Sewing Tidy and a Bangle.

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We each received a Sewing Tidy and a Bangle. What’s a bangle? It’s that cute little metal plaque with a wire hanger bearing the state of MN.

Being the inquisitive type that I am, I started talking and asking some questions. This gal knew the answers. It was then that I knew I’d found:

Today’s Top Shop on the Hop

This story is about making a dream come true. For awhile now, I’ve been wondering how Quilt Minnesota and the Shop Hop idea started. I didn’t need to wait long to find out more. That smiling, exuberant gal behind the desk, knew all the answers.

Almost twenty years ago, Sue Poser had a dream of starting a statewide shop hop. She had been approached by Eileen Taylor, a representative of Moda Fabrics, about starting a statewide shop hop. Finally, after 5 years of thinking and hoping and wondering, Sue presented the idea to a tri-state meeting of quilt shop owners. It was unanimous. 100% of the shops were behind her. Sue worked to get the idea going in Minnesota. Business is slow for quilt shops in the summer in Minnesota, so a shop hop in August would help boost business as well as increase exposure for the shops. I am sure this dream needed a lot of hard work and long hours from Sue and a lot of support from the shops in the state to make this dream a reality.


This year Quilt Minnesota celebrates it’s 11th annual shop hop. Sue had been instrumental in starting it and keeping it going all these years. She has now passed on the business baton to another shop owner and is confident that the Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop will continue getting bigger and better each year. Sue’s enthusiasm and exuberance for the Quilt MN Shop Hop as well as for her own shop and personal life is unmatched. I think she leaves big shoes to fill.

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Gruber’s central location in the state made it a natural choice for getting a statewide hop started.

The Quilt MN Shop Hop has seen more shop hoppers participating each year. Each year more of them have finished visiting all the participating shops in the whole state. Seventy-five people completed the shop hop last year with this year’s figures still driving all around the state getting their passports stamped, buying yards of fabric, and seeing quilting inspiration unparalleled in any state. It’s still not too late to complete at least three sections to try to win some prizes. The Quilt MN Shop Hop continues through August 13th.

According to Sue, the grand prize of an Alaskan Cruise is really meant to satisfy the men belonging to the quilters. While a quilting cruise might be a perfect prize for many quilters, the trip to Alaska would be of interest to both the gals as well as the guys. The guys, who escort their quilting wives or send them with friends to explore the many quilt shops all around the state of Minnesota and spend enormous amounts of money, would appreciate a trip and a cruise. This trip for two appeals to all ages and even for those who aren’t married (participants must be over 18 years of age to be eligible for state level prizes).

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Sue (Gruber) Poser is the present owner of Gruber’s Quilt Shop. She is the third generation of Grubers to own and work in the store. Sue’s grandfather started Gruber’s as a general store in 1932 in a tiny town called Genola (population 97) located about 35 miles from today’s present location. That first store not only sold groceries but also had an award winning meat market. Sue remembers it as “a real Laura Ingalls store where you could buy anything and everything including fabric.”

About 20 years ago, Gruber’s moved to downtown St. Cloud. When the opportunity arrived a few years later, Sue quickly decided to branch out and create a quilt shop in Waite Park. She didn’t have to think long about it. Quilting was in her blood. “I love quilting. My grandmother taught me when I was 5 years old. I made yo-yos.” She continued, “A bad day ends good if you’re quilting. I do it one fat quarter at a time.”

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Here’s the bargain room. I have to admit that I shop at the clearance sections first. I often find quality name-brand fabrics that I could use.

She presently has a staff of 20 full and part time employees including a 4th generation Gruber, her daughter, working right along side her in the shop. Sue boasts that 7 of her staff are pattern designers. 

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After shopping the clearance section, I shop the regular priced fabrics and quilting notions looking for items on my list.

Gruber’s has been in in its present location for 15 years after moving into this vacated furniture store. The painter decided the space above the quilt shop door needed just a little something extra so Sue gave him permission to do what he wanted. She was surprised at what she saw and a bit unsure if it should stay.

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You will see this sign just above the door as you enter the shop from the interior courtyard. I had to admit to Sue that the first time I stopped at Gruber’s four years ago on the shop hop, I walked around the shop and with each corner I turned or doorway I walked through, my eyes got bigger and my jaw dropped more. I left empty-handed. I was overwhelmed. When I was back home after that first visit, I thought about that shop and couldn’t wait to get back to it to explore it further. There definitely is truth in that sign so be prepared to be overwhelmed when you enter or as Tu-Na Helper says, “Enter at your own risk. You may not find your way out for a very long time.”

Gruber’s tagline “The Quilt Shop for Every Quilter” matches the 10,000+ bolts of fabric and many quilting supplies as well as a yarn shop found within its walls. Click here to go to Gruber’s website to find out more info about this quilt shop as well as tour their online store.

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Sue has seen a resurgence of knitting interest with the younger generation. Half of her staff knits.

Sue’s advice for new quilters is to find a group to sew with. She says, “It’s (sewing) social. Sew with friends.” I know that quilters make very good friends.

Gruber’s offer a variety of classes in their well-lit classroom. About 15 years ago, a retreat center was started to meet the needs of quilters who like to sew and socialize. Sue said that I had just missed seeing Amanda Jean Nyberg as she had been there over the weekend (I am a follower of hers at Crazy Mom Quilts). The retreat center has room for 15 quilters to sew, snack, and sleep. That sounds pretty good to me.

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The classroom

Other quilting celebrities and important people have visited Gruber’s. Back in 2004, the shop received a phone call. “This is the White House calling.” Sue’s daughter, who had taken the call, suspected it to be a political call and hung up the phone. Luckily for Gruber’s, they called back but this time asked not to be hung up on again. Laura Bush wanted to come and visit a successful small business run by a woman. The visit was arranged and Mrs. Bush came to Gruber’s in August of that year. She spoke to female business owners right there in the courtyard. Read more about her visit here. There is a link to listen to her remarks, too.

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Gruber’s prides itself in taking care of the husbands that come along with their quilting wives. They’ve installed a TV and some leather chairs for the guys in the large courtyard. “If we hear snoring, we know we did a good job,” Sue said smiling. In addition, the shop has a café located in the courtyard where meals and pastries are made by a chef who attended Le Cordon Bleu. Plan to visit Gruber’s to shop and stay for coffee, and then lunch, and finish the day with some dessert. Strolling through this shop just might take some time.

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Sue and I are chatting at the tables in front of the quilt shop and beside the Café in this interior courtyard. You can see that sign above the door.

Gruber’s has benefited from the shop hop as it has given the store more exposure to quilter’s coming from many states in the country. They gave out 500 of their Quilt MN Block Hop patterns in the first 5 days of the hop this year.

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This quilt, on display in the courtyard of Gruber’s, has all the block patterns from all 66 participating shops. Which one is your favorite?

I wanted to have stayed longer at Gruber’s. Sue has a zest for life and for caring about her customers, but we needed to be on our way.

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It was hard to leave this shop as I felt like I’d just found a new, dear friend.

Plan to stop at Gruber’s, the largest quilt shop in a 5 state area, for a bite to eat and a bit of fabric or yarn shopping. But don’t come on Sunday (except during the shop hop) as they are closed because, according to Sue, “Everybody should have a day off.” When you do visit, say Hi! to Sue and the gals and tell them that Tu-Na sent you.

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What’s this? I spied these state flower fabrics made by In the Beginning Fabrics on my way out of the shop. I’ve never seen them before. I might have to add them onto my list. I’m holding North Dakota’s state flower fabric on top of the bolts.

Block of the Day

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I bought this cute Minne-Sewta Jar block kit from Gruber’s Quilt Shop which came with an option to sew it into a pincushion. Because of lack of time, but not lack of ambition, I wasn’t able to complete it, yet. I was happy I got this much done! Note: The pattern gives directions for making a 7.5″ unfinished block. If you are sewing your Minne-Sewta Jar block along with the other patterns provided by the quilt shops in your quilt, you will need it to be 8.5.” You can make the adjustment by cutting pieces B and C 1/2″ wider than given on the pattern and sew a 1.5″ x 8.5″ piece to the bottom. Just be sure to keep the lid on the jar so those dragonflies stay in.

What I Learned Today:

  1. My husband is better at recognizing fabric manufacturers than I am. We were walking out of Dawn’s Quilt Shop in Alexandria when he stopped in his tracks and pointed. “Cotton and Steel,” he said. I checked the end of the bolt and he was correct.
  2. I must be enjoying the hop. I’m forgetting what day of the week it is.
  3. If the White House calls, don’t hang up.

Question: Have you ever been to Minnesota? I have been there many times from enjoying the big city life of Minneapolis to visiting my sister in a very small town. It’s a very interesting state.

I read and appreciate every comment I receive. I’ve either been busy writing posts or shopping so I  haven’t had time to reply but do plan to when I am home and recovered from the trip. Thank you for all your kind words and encouragement.

Thanks for stopping by and do come again.

Karen, Tu-Na Quilts

See my other posts about the 2017 Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop:

Tu-Na Travels: ♪Over Hill. Over Dale. We Will Hit the Dusty Trail. As the Quilt Hop Goes Rolling Along….♪

Tu-Na Travels: Day One, 352 Miles, 11 Shops, Only 55 Shops Remaining

Tu-Na Travels: Day Two, 334 miles, 7 Shops, Only 48 Shops Remaining

Tu-Na Travels: Day Three, 210 Miles, 4 Shops, 44 Shops Remaining

Tu-Na Travels: Day Four, 276 Miles, 9 Shops, Only 35 Shops Remaining

All the links to my posts for last year’s Quilt MN Shop Hop can be found at the top of this blog under the Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats title. Click on the Shop Hop tab; in the drop down menu, click on 2016 Quilt MN Shop Hop Posts.

At this time, I have no affiliation with any of the shops, products, companies, or services that I mention here on Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats.

Linking to:

Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

WIPs at Silly Mama Quilts

Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

22 thoughts on “Tu-Na Travels: Day Five, 274 Miles, 8 Shops, Only 27 Shops Remaining

  1. Little Quiltsong

    Thank you for all of your posts on these shop hops. I’m always so amazed at all the beautiful quilt shops in the US. Loved hearing the history of how it all began. Thank you Karen, for doing this for your readers. Loved this last stop and how cozy it is with the cafe – a perfect spot no matter the weather.


  2. Christa

    Grubers is on the top of my list of MN shops, I use to go when it was in the meat market on our way up to Brainard. I was surprised to read how long ago that was. Time flies! I enjoy reading about your shop hop travels, it inspires me to do the whole state one day.


  3. piecefulwendy

    I, too, remember that first Grubers location. It was the first quilt shop I ever visited. i had some FQs that I bought there for years because I couldn’t bear to cut into them (I finally did). I remember that we were a little surprised to walk through the door and smell a meat market. The guys thought it was great! Grubers is still a favorite shop of mine; the fabric selection is amazing, and the staff are such friendly people!


  4. Gretchen

    Maybe when my husband retires from milking cows we can visit Minnesota and participate in part of the shop hop. I’m afraid though, by the time he retires, we won’t have the strength to push the gas pedal anymore.


  5. karenfae

    Gruber’s sounds wonderful! we have traveled some through the state now and then if we are on our way to visit our daughter in Wisconsin after our travels in the west and starting our travels home (we take a round about way to get home) the story of Laura Bush is nice to hear – a first lady in the quilt shop – I always wish I would hear of a first lady (or president) that is a quilter


  6. Melva Nolan

    Sue seems like someone I want to feature in my Through the Generations series… I hope she responds to the message I sent her. 🙂 What a fun day!


  7. Kathleen McCormick

    Another great travel day! I love the stories of the quilt shops and how they came to be and how long they have lasted. Safe journeys.


  8. rl2b2017

    Hi Karen,
    It sounds like this was a really success shop hop day. I will definitely put Gruber’s on my go-to list. It sounds like quilter’s heaven – I can’t even imagine 10,000 bolts of fabric. WOWEE. Sue is a gem worth meeting, and how wonderful that Laura Bush visited. ~smile~ Roseanne


  9. Sandy Panagos

    What a great post. I loved reading all the details about Gruber’s. It was so interesting. And to think, a first lady even visited. Your descriptions make me want to visit Minnesota just to go to Gruber’s!


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  12. inquiringquilter

    What a great shop! I love trips like this, visiting quilting shops and chatting with the employees or the owners. So much fun! Thanks for linking up to Wednesday Wait Loss.


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