Dressew is more than a fabric store, it’s a Vancouver institution. Located on East Hastings, not far from the infamous Main & Hastings intersection, it’s a relic of a past time. The lights are fluorescent, the floor is dingy white linoleum and the place is floor to ceiling full of supplies for sewing, knitting and quilting. On a typical weekday it is buzzing, with bespectacled senior citizens leaning over quilting supplies, well-dressed men in shiny shoes poring over home dec fabrics, girls barely out of their teens dressed like runway models choosing buttons. You might even see a mommy with a sleeping baby on her back.

The place isn’t the best for modern fabrics – although I noticed some Amy Butler and Michael Miller. But if you’re looking to make some clothes or bags, or there are tons of options – canvas, denim, fleece, flannel, bits of leather and a whole aisle of upholstery fabric. But since it’s hard to rummage through fabric with a baby in a carrier, I find the real joy of the store is the bottom floor. Holy cow. Buttons and buttons and buttons in every possible imaginable colour. Another aisle of zippers! Next time I’ll work up the courage to take some photos inside. The buttons would blow your mind. And supplies at rock bottom prices. I picked up a narrow (gridless) self-healing mat for $4.99 and a small quilting ruler for $2.99. I found quilting pins for 99 cents. Extra seam ripper for 25 cents (at my level you can never have too many!)

I’ve heard that Dressew might be closing soon, or that it’s struggling. It isn’t apparent to me from the dozens of people that have been in there the last two times I’ve shopped there. But if it’s true, it will be devastating for the city. I don’t think there’s another store with this variety of stuff in the city limits, let alone the downtown core. I do buy a lot of things online, but I definitely make the effort to support this and other bricks and mortar fabric stores. Online shopping is great, but there are times when you need to feel the fabric, or buy some random supply you didn’t even realise you needed until you saw it on sale for 35 cents.