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March 2, 2013

Main Street shop offers a material world

By Cathy B. Koplen
The Daily Star

---- — Project Anthologies, the colorful fabric shop on Main Street in Oneonta, began as a collection of creative endeavors.

Melany Tenore, owner of Project Anthologies, has been sewing all of her life. She began selling her creations online as a hobby.

“I love it, I have a passion for the product,” Tenore said. “I do not remember learning how to (sew). My mother was always sewing and so was my grandmother.”

The shop at 261 Main St. is full of bright colorful bolts of cloth in fresh patterns. The shop sells a wide variety of sewing, quilting, knitting and home décor supplies.

Tenore moved to Oneonta from Nashville, Tenn., in 2011. While in Nashville, she worked in information technology, but she always sewed. When she and her husband began a family, Tenore sewed baby clothes and sold some online.

“I wanted to get back into creating, so I started selling things on Etsy,” Tenore said. “I did that for the last five years. It was part-time, more like a hobby.”

After living in Oneonta for about six months, Tenore began looking for a space to open a fabric and crafting shop. She had finished her business plan when she noticed a rental sign in an old building which would become the new retail village on the corner of Main Street and Ford Avenue.

“It is a wonderful location,” Tenore said. “Peter Clark has been awesome. (Wilber and Clark Enterprises) had a great vision of the space — it is like a cottage. I love the original hardwood floors.”

There is a niche in Oneonta for a shop that sells sewing supplies to the creative set. Project Anthologies also offers classes in sewing, knitting and quilting. The classes are themed around various holidays — with casserole carrier sets, wreath-making and jewelry box decoupage offered recently.

“We don’t have a Joanne’s Fabric here, and Walmart has fabrics, but not like mine — they are not really a competitor,” Tenore said.

Project Anthologies sells designer fabrics including Ann Butler Designs. Tenore has the experience to advise customers in completing a desired look for clothing, crafts or home décor. Recently, the store added a line of home design fabrics.

“I want to start doing trash-to-treasure classes, where people can bring in old furniture and recover it,” Tenore said.

Re-purposing is a trend among the college-aged crowd, Tenore said. Finding clothes at a second-hand store and updating them in a unique way is appealing in this economy.

“I think it skipped a generation,” said Tenore. “Our grandmothers sewed clothes because it was more affordable than buying new clothes. But then, it was cheaper to go to Walmart and buy stuff. Now, money is tight and making your own clothes is affordable and it is fun.”

Knitting is another trend that has come back into fashion, according to Tenore.

“There are a lot of knitters in our area,” said Tenore.

The students attending classes offered at Project Anthologies are a mix of seasoned crafters and first-timers. Tenore makes it easy to complete most projects in one class. She offers kits that include all of the materials needed to complete a craft, although customers may use their own material for any projects.

Tenore continues her online presence with an engaging website where she also sells her inventory. Sometimes Internet sales are better than store sales, and sometimes it’s the reverse.  

But, Tenore reasons, that’s the trend of the modern customer.