Nancy Conn didn’t know she was creating an enduring legacy when she started the Hen House from her home on Pearl Street in Charlotte in 1976. Her eye for primitive fabrics and passion for quilting struck a chord with customers throughout Mid-Michigan and beyond.
Finding success as a business owner, Nancy quickly moved the Hen House to downtown Charlotte before finding a permanent home at 211 S. Cochran Avenue in 1978.
Nancy’s passion also caught the eye of Carolyn Rosier, who joined her staff more than a decade ago. Building upon her own passion for quilting and helping others bring their creative ideas to life, Carolyn didn’t realize at the time that she was preparing to become a business owner herself. Nancy decided to retire in 2014, selling her business to Carolyn and Doug Rosier.
“It’s all consuming,” Carolyn said of being a business owner. “There are days your mind doesn’t stop.”
Whether it’s thinking of what class to offer next, or what new style of fabric to offer, Carolyn has found success in always bringing something new to the table for customers to check out. Since taking ownership of the Hen House, the store has nearly tripled in size, and now occupies three consecutive storefronts. She said the expansion has been a result of the growth in fabric offerings. While Nancy had built a strong customer base on her primitive selection of fabrics, Carolyn has provided a more eclectic mix. The increased inventory allowed Carolyn to double the showroom space.
Offering primitive, reproduction, and folk-art style fabrics and patterns, The Hen House has long been a destination for quilting enthusiasts. Carolyn credits Nancy’s recognition in The Quilt Sampler Magazine in the spring of 2012, where The Hen House was honored a Top 10 Shop, as opening a new era for the shop. The increased exposure led to customers coming in or ordering goods from across the United States as well as international sales.
With the continued success of the business, Carolyn was able to expand again, adding a dedicated classroom space last summer.
“I love interacting with people and helping them create,” Carolyn said. “It’s rewarding to help them expand their knowledge of what they can do.”
Classes for basket making, tole painting, stamping, and other handcrafts have given way to honoring more of the fiber aspect of handmade workmanship, Carolyn said.
“Quilting fabric and supplies are now the mainstay of the shop,” she said.
Moving forward, Carolyn said she hopes to connect more with the younger generation, who may also find the joy in creating their own quilts. She has already felt more connected with her fellow downtown business owners, and sees a growing camaraderie that is benefitting downtown Charlotte.
“We’re here for the community, not ourselves,” Carolyn said of local business owners.
The Hen House is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, including a schedule of upcoming classes, find The Hen House Quilt Shop on Facebook, or call (517) 543-6454.