Great Buttons Misses the Hole

January 24, 2008 at 8:52 am 9 comments

lbjpg.jpgThe notions store near 73rd Rd was not exactly expected. Another nail salon, faux luxe fashion boutique, or gem store perhaps, but for many people, Great Buttons seems to have confirmed the fear that the commercial area between 73rd and Union Turnpike along Queens Blvd is largely destined to remain a strip of shlock product and signage, new Starbucks not withstanding.

Still, just because the quaint term “notions” has to be explained to anyone under 50 doesn’t mean the store can’t be good. I’m a knitter and sometimes craftsperson, so I popped in to see what could be had. What I found is a nondescript all-white store with walls and island counters filled with buttons, trimming, and yarn. The latter piqued my interest, until I saw that it was mostly synthetic blends, and even the 100% wool is from manufacturers I’ve never heard of. Trust me, I know this stuff. I’m not sure who they’re hoping to attract, because the latest wave of knitters is prepared to spend big bucks to get merino, alpaca, silk, mohair, and all the fantastic blends now available in local yarn shops (LYS) and online.

Next I turned to the buttons. In an attempt to find a gem of a button, I asked the owner to show me the most expensive buttons in the store. What she showed me was okay but did not wow me. Still, in the spirit of dropping money in Forest Hills wherever I can, I bought some enamel flower-shaped buttons that could be strung together to make a so-so looking bracelet.

I wish the store luck, but what it points out to me is the need for Forest Hills to get a real yarn shop, one that carries high-quality yarns and accessories and where people can gather to knit and learn how to knit. Some of the “stitchin’ bitches” thing is a pretext to hang out under the guise of a creative outlet, but people need venues and excuses like this to come together outside of the usual routes of playgrounds, schools, and houses of worship.

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Entry filed under: community, Forest Hills.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Theresa Mara  |  August 27, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I found your review a bit unbalanced. The primary focus of the store GREAT BUTTONS is to offer a great variety of buttons from around the world. The owner does offer this. As a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, I found the owner to be extremely talented as she created necklaces, earrings and pendants for me using…what else…but antique buttons that you can not find anywhere else…not even in Manhattan. I say, it is well worth the trip! The yarn is not the primary focus. And, by the way, they will start a knitting class if the interest is there in the neighborhood.

    Reply
  • 2. Theresa Mara  |  August 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I found your review a bit unbalanced. The primary focus of the store GREAT BUTTONS is to offer a great variety of buttons from around the world. The owner does offer this. As a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, I found the owner to be extremely talented as she created necklaces, earrings and pendants for me using…what else…but antique buttons that you can not find anywhere else…not even in Manhattan. I say, it is well worth the trip! The yarn is not the primary focus. And, by the way, they will start a knitting class if the interest is there in the neighborhood.

    Reply
  • 3. j.  |  August 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I am thankful that you patronized this store and the fact
    that you are dedicated to supporting the shopkeepers
    in this area however I was disappointed that you
    did not capture the exciting and wonderful array of items that
    Great Buttons has to offer. In my experience, the buttons that I have purchased at this shop really added quality and style
    to the look of my clothing. The owner is very knowledgeable and sincere in her interest to pick the best selection to meet your needs. Some of her buttons are individually crafted, one of a kind items, that come from all over the world. As for the knitting wool the owner chooses to sell the highest quality for the lowest cost. Of the wool I have knitted from this shop
    I have never failed to get lots of compliments. Great
    Buttons also carries needlepoint kits for adults and children,
    jewelry that you can make or design yourself i.e.the owner will turn your favorite button into a one of a kind earring set, you also have the opportunity to get your favorite old costume jewelry repaired by the shopkeeper, and lots of other things that can really expand your creative horizons or perk up your old shirts and blouses to look like new with the addition of gorgeous details. For such a tiny store the owner tries hard to make the most of any shoppers choices. A little imagination can
    go a long way in making any woman look fabulous. This store
    is a gem.

    Reply
  • 4. karbeth  |  August 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I actually have visited since and found these other comments to be on target. For buttons, there is a wide selection, some of it very antique and expensive. A true sewer would be able to see it for what is better than I can. And it’s true, the woman who runs the place is very kind and helpful. So I stand corrected, enlightened.

    Reply
  • 5. Soo  |  February 5, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Does anyone know where this store moved to? Or how to contact the owner? Or did it just go the way of our economic times?

    Reply
  • 6. Soo  |  February 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Does anyone know where this store moved to? Or how to contact the owner? Or did it just go the way of our economic times?

    Reply
  • 7. Matt  |  March 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I’ve been to the store in forest hills a few times. I used to take the F train there. I recently called them (yesterday March 7th) and the number was dissconnected. I pray they are not out of business and just changed the store #. i used to have her (the store owner) make me cufflinks from the selection of buttons.

    Reply
  • 8. Soo  |  March 9, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Unfortunately there is a big for rent sign in the front of the store…I will miss Irene also. If anyone knows how to get in touch with her please let me know.

    Reply
  • 9. Jenny  |  March 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Great Buttons, where for art thou? Have they moved? They are the best button shop on the planet. The owners, George and Irene, are so helpful and knowledgeable. Can someone please tell me if this store is still open? Or, if not, have they moved? I can’t believe this great button store has gone out of business! Please help! Thanks so much!

    Reply

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