The Cotton Ball rolls in a new owner

Central Coast quilting customers are ecstatic. The Cotton Ball’s new owner, Lori Stollmeyer, is one of them.

“It was kismet that brought Rob (Appell) and me together,” Stollmeyer said. “I had just discussed retirement with my family and how my dream was to own a fabric store. Then, while attending the Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour, I got to Morro Bay’s Cotton Ball late. I overheard Rob saying the shop was for sale. I waited to talk to him, and now I’m living my dream.”

As a child, her mother taught her to sew Barbie doll clothes and her first quilt at age 9. Then life diverted her until three years ago, when she got the bug to quilt again and purchased a long-arm quilting machine, which she’ll install in the shop. A registered nurse for 20 years, Stollmeyer will continue as needed in administration with French Hospital Medical Center.

The Cotton Ball will maintain textile retail sales and referral service for home decorating, reupholstery and machine repairs. Stollmeyer has recruited her sister, Alison Virge from Tennessee, to help and intends to keep the staff. Appreciative customers have discovered she has stocked boatloads of new fabric and accessories. Appell will continue to be the Pfaff sewing machine service provider. Stollmeyer encourages all to sign up for their newsletter at www.thecottonball.com for notices about future activities.

The Cotton Ball has been a thriving fabric shop since 1969. A year ago, owner Judi Appell decided to retire to travel and spend time with her grandchildren. She planned to sell, until Rob, her son, convinced her that he could handle adding store owner/manager to his busy life. But two full-time careers brought his mother out of retirement and triggered his need to sell.

Rob Appell is an accomplished textile artist (www.robappell.com) and is the creator of the famed Endangered Species Quilt Project. He travels extensively conducting quilting workshops. That leaves him little time to manage the shop, represent and repair Pfaff sewing machines, and develop quilting kits, not to mention spend time with his wife and two young children.

Although he will continue to support Stollmeyer’s efforts, he intends to continue his teaching and has been encouraged by fellow textile artists and mentors to “take his art to the next level.”

“Quilt shops in California are closing,” Appell said. “The Cotton Ball has survived because we’ve always gone beyond to help our customers research projects and find specialized fabrics. Lori has the same philosophy. Inventory was limited when she took over, but she has been aggressive to find and fill the store with new product.

“It already looks like a brand new business making former and new customers happy,” he said.

Judy Salamacha writes special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.