Relive the Good Ole Days!
Heirlooms & Comforts in Central, SC is housed in a structure built in the age when Victorians, just like modern artisans, were using quilting as both a practical craft as well as an art form.
The building was constructed in early 1900. Originally, the half of the building where the fabric is now was a pharmacy with a doctor's office in the back where Sara's office is now. Sara recalls seeing Dr. Bearden in that office when she was a child. The metal hitch that the doctor tied his horse to is still attached to the wall. The other half of the building was a bank. As the economy in Central evolved, so did the use of the building. During the 20th Century, the building housed the magistrate's office, an antique shop, a flea market, Dr's Smith and Shealy satellite office, and a drop-off point for donations to Helping Hands, a local organization dedicated to the aid of abused children.
Planting the seed of entrepreneurship
Sara and her husband, Bobby grew up in Upstate South Carolina. Sara's family had always been quilters and her maternal grandmother had told her "If you make a quilt a year, you'll never be cold." Quilts therefore have been a part of Sara's life forever. She even spent many hours as a child playing with dolls under the quilt frames her parents and grandparents used to complete their beautiful heirlooms. When in the last few years of his life Sara's paternal
grandfather was unable to do physical labor in his garden and yard, he turned to quilting as a hobby. As a result Sara has a quilt he helped to make and she sometimes hangs that quilt in the gallery at H&C alongside some other pieces from the family heirloom chests. Sara had always loved sewing and turned to needlework to escape from the boredom of their rural Georgia home in 1975. "I was in a town of 1,700 people and I knew no one. I had three small kids and I was bored." says Sara of that time. The former High School English and French teacher started teaching needlework classes. When the family moved back to South Carolina, she sold the needlework business and started Heirlooms & Comforts in Clemson, SC.
A new start
As the quilting business grew over the next 16 years, Sara expanded her facilities several times and finally needed to move on to a location over which she would have full control of the facility and the hours she could offer to her customers. When the building at 104 Madden Bridge Road went up for sale, Sara saw the potential in the run-down pharmacy she visited as a child. After purchasing the building and restoring it to it's earlier grandeur, the shop moved in 2000 from Clemson to Central. Sara says, "The shelving which holds the bolts of fabric is original to the pharmacy. I simply removed every other shelf for the bolts to fit!" Although many architectural features of the original structure are gone due to decay, most of the floors and the ceiling fan in the front of the store are original. "One Sunday afternoon, we had a gentleman from Atlanta knock on our door," says Sara. "His father had been the pharmacist here from 1916 until 1945. He sent us back a picture of the store when his father worked here and the ceiling fan was in the picture!"
In 2001, Heirlooms & Comforts expanded to open a second store, Viking Sew 'n Quilt, in Greenville, SC. A more contemporary space, VSQ houses great fabrics in a different selection.
In early 2008 additional changes occurred with the Shops of Heirlooms & Comforts. Sara Ballentine sold Viking Says Sew ‘n Quilt to the former manager Cathy Dyer. Cathy will continue to offer to the quilters and sewers of Greenville and the surrounding area great selections of fabrics and quilting supplies and Husqvarna Viking machines and sergers. The store is now called Viking Sew ‘n Quilt and remains in the same location at 1266 Woodruff Rd. in Greenville.