Think sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, embroidery machines, sewing and quilting classes, friendly people and a large inventory of related products and the place that comes to mind immediately is Marion's Sew & Vac, 234 Pulaski Blvd., in south Bellingham.

Don't be mislead by the name -- don't pop in and ask for Marion. Most likely you will still end up getting help from Dotty. The store was called Marion's when the Hottensteins arrived on the scene eighteen years ago.

The popular store is owned and operated by Tom and Dotty Hottenstein and you will generally find them close to the front door ready to help with any needs, from a sleeve of vacuum cleaner bags to in depth information on why you should walk out with a nice new Miele vacuum.

The friendly knowledgeable couple has owned the store since 1994.

The sales floor occupies more than 2,300 square feet and is well stocked with vacuums and sewing machines to fit any pocketbook.

What you don't see is the 2,300 square feet below that make Marion's a triple-decker of activity. The space upstairs is used for weekly sewing classes where friends come to learn, socialize and create the next "heirloom."

"It's important that we have a lot of space for people to experience sewing, embroidery, and quilting, so the upstairs space is critical" said Dotty. "While our lifestyles have changed and people tend to sew less to make clothes, they still loves to sew and be creative. People today really enjoy quilting and embroidery, it has become a very popular pastime for folks of all ages and we feel that is important to help them with that passion."

The area downstairs provides ample space for inventory to back up the sales staff's daily activity as well as to allow plenty of space to perform repairs on sewing machines and vacuums.

"It is important today that when a customer comes in and gets excited about what they want, we need to have the item on hand, so they can walk out with it," Tom said. "And no matter what the quality of the products out there, we know we need to have a dedicated shop area to make timely repairs and the space downstairs allows us to do accomplish the goal."

Tom and Dotty and the staff at Marion's have one common goal. The team strives to help people choose the right piece of equipment to fit their lifestyle and they want to be the customer's first choice for products, services and learning.

"We are proud of our quality vacuum cleaner lines, like Miele and Sebo, and we recognize that we need to offer a wide variety of canisters or uprights and related supplies to fulfill people's needs and lifestyles," Tom said.

"It is important that we sell machines," he said, but it is "more important that we know how to treat people and we enjoy helping people to solve a problem or learn a new sewing skill."

"We are family and we like to think of our customers as part of our extended family," Dotty said.

So stop in today at Marion's Sew & Vac and see why this family-owned operation continues to grow year after year.

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