Freeland shop specializes in high-end material at low-end prices

Ann Flynn of Wholesale Decorator Fabrics: “It’s very popular

How’s your mohair?

How about your Sunbrella, damask, toiles or French embroidery rooster prints? Running low on tapestries, linen, 100-percent cotton or silk?

If you need some quality fabric, it’s available at a little shop in downtown Freeland for a fraction of the price, according to its owner.

The store is called Wholesale Decorator Fabrics — “Open to the Public.” The last part of the name was added in the nick of time to the signs outside.

“My original name did me in,” said owner Ann Flynn. “People thought it was only open to wholesalers and those in the trade.”

Flynn specializes in a wide variety of high-end fabrics purchased from mills throughout the country. She ships the fabrics to Freeland and sells them at deep discounts to people looking for something special. She said she has more than

100 fabrics from which to choose.

“They’re not seconds,” she emphasized. “They’re all close-outs.”

Flynn said her fabrics are ideal for home decoration projects: furniture covers, tapestries, drapery, bedding, pillows.

“It’s very popular,” Flynn said. “People are redecorating instead of buying new.”

“In this economy, what I’m offering is just perfect,” she added. “It’s like creating a new home for less money.”

Flynn opened her fabric business about two years ago in the Mutiny Bay Antique Mall, and in July relocated down Main Street, across from Payless Foods.

Flynn, 59, grew up in Ohio and received a fine-arts degree in textile design. She has been collecting and selling vintage fabrics for 25 years. Although she lived in Seattle for years before moving to Whidbey, she still has family in Ohio, and the mills there are among her biggest suppliers.

She’s also been on buying trips to Los Angeles, New York and Paris.

“I travel all over,” Flynn said.

It helps that she was employed by United Airlines for 17 years in international reservations and training. She can now fly standby anywhere on United for the cost of the tax on a ticket.

“As long as United keeps flying, so do I,” she said.

Flynn moved to South Whidbey about five years ago, but had been visiting since 1985.

“I’m just an island girl,” she said. She and her cat, Chloe, live in Freeland, where she loves to garden.

Besides offering fabric, Flynn sells the vintage cottage furniture pieces she uses to display her goods in the store. And she carries the finished work of other local crafters, and maintains a list of about 20 local artisans who will sew materials for her customers.

But back to the mohair. It’s a typical example of the kind of fabric Flynn stocks.

Mohair is made from the hair of Angora goats, and was originally manufactured as a substitute for velvet.

Although hipsters in the mid-20th century favored flashy suits made of mohair, Flynn carries the industrial-weight variety similar to that used in covering the seats of railroad cars in the early 1900s.

Mohair’s durability also appealed to Henry Ford, who used it to cover the seats of his first automobiles and trucks, she said.

“It’s the same stuff,” Flynn said.

With the increasing number of crafters on the island looking for distinct materials, Flynn figures her business has nowhere to go but up.

“If everybody tells everybody, I’ll be fine,” she said.

Wholesale Decorator Fabrics is at 1592 Main St. in Freeland, and is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

For information, call 331-8099, or e-mail