Biz Buzz: Betty’s Fabrics celebrating 50 years as part of fabric of the community

Betty’s Fabrics, with stores in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria, is celebrating 50 years of business.

Betty Pilkington, 83, of Santa Maria opened a small fabric store on Church Street in Santa Maria in July 1960 when she could not find fabric for her children’s clothing.

She now employs 26 people in two locations: a 15,000-square-foot store at 1627 South Broadway in Santa Maria and a 10,000-square-foot shop at 1229 Carmel St. in San Luis Obispo. Pilkington opened the San Luis Obispo store in 1969.

Since then, Pilkington has seen the industry change as major domestic fabric mills closed and production moved overseas. She attributes the longevity of her business to the quality of her products — and to luck.

Pilkington also said there is a generation between the ages of 25 and 45 who never learned to sew — which she blamed on cuts in school home economics programs — though she said the trend is becoming more popular again, and grandmothers teach their grandchildren to sew.

Betty’s Fabrics has plans to begin offering sewing lessons for youths.

Pilkington attends several fabric trade shows around the country each year, and she says she has no plans to retire. She said she’s enjoyed her career immensely, because she says people who sew are of a different caliber.

“If you’re busy, I think your happier,” she said.

— Julia Hickey

Authorities warn of bogus inspectors

County health department officials have alerted local business owners to a fraud scheme that has so far targeted businesses in Northern California.

No reports of the scam have been reported in San Luis Obispo County.

Officials say a number of restaurants in Stanislaus County have received phone calls from a person claiming to be a health inspector and introducing a new procedure to arrange an inspection.

The caller asks the business owner to follow a procedure to get a special code to confirm the inspection. The purpose of the code request is to get the business owner to provide false verification to an online auction service so that the original caller can establish an account.

County health authorities do not announce inspections in advance, nor will inspectors call to set up or in advance of an inspection. The Environmental Health Services Division says it has not set up a new inspection procedure.

For information, call 781-5544.

— Cynthia Lambert

• • •

Hannah Brown and Jonah Stepro have joined TekTegrity, a local Internet and tech service firm. Brown, who is coming from the Transitions Mental Health Association in San Luis Obispo, will be TekTegrity’s account manager. Stero, previously in technology services at the Family Care Network in San Luis Obispo, will be the firm’s lead technician.

— Melanie Cleveland