44 THE MEETING PROFESSIONAL MARCH 2016
sewing enthusiasts, some of whom save for a
lifetime for their sojourn to Puyallup.
Fabric, craft and sewing industry sales
are reported at US$5 billion a year, and at the
expo, it’s easy to see why.
The expo is known for its “credit card
breaking” shopping, where attendees can
;ind everything for sewing at the trade show,
including fabrics, notions, specialty yarns,
threads, patterns, books, machine embroidery designs and home décor items that can’t
be found at strip-mall craft stores.
And after credit cards have been maxed,
attendees can catch the tram to the onsite
U.S. post of;ice to mail packages home.
“We like to make it easy to spend money
in Puyallup,” says Shelly Schlumpf, president
and CEO of the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of
The economic bene;its bear her out. The
expo’s economic impact is around $500,000,
not including about $70,000 in sales tax revenue or the income it brings to greater Seattle.
Puyallup - Home to the Washington
The expo’s move to Puyallup was a result of
its rapid success, growing from 3,000 its ;irst
year to 6,000 the next and ;inally crossing
into the tens of thousands and outgrowing
the original Tacoma Dome location. It settled
at the WSFC in the historic town of Puyallup
because it provided a one-stop location for
the classroom space, vendor demonstrations, trade show space, catwalk-style fashion show areas and rows of food vendors.
“The Washington State Fairgrounds is
one of the only venues that could accommo-
date an event of this size,” says Dana Colwell,
CMP, conference manager, WSU Global Cam-
pus, Washington State University and presi-
dent of the MPI Washington State Chapter. “I
bring my father every year.”
Together they help attendees ;ind ob-
scure items at the trade show, which general-
ly means they’re on the walkie-talkie hunting
down seasoned sewers to help them search
the almost endless aisles. Colwell’s dad once
turned down a vacation to Mexico in order to
stay home for the sewing expo.
Situated south of Seattle and east of
Tacoma near Mount Rainier, the 169-acre
WSFC has more than 15 facilities, including
an expo hall, a conference center, a pavilion,
meeting rooms, a restaurant building and
a tram system to get attendees around the
“The fairgrounds typically see 2 to 2. 5
Edutainment and the Joy of Sewing
million people a year. Our hotels have a high
occupancy rate for towns of 40,000 or less.
The 770 rooms usually average a 60 percent
to 70 percent occupancy rate,” Schlumpf
says. “Because the expo is a captive audi-
ence during the day, we’ve learned to grab
participants in the morning and evenings to
enjoy our 125-year-old historic downtown.
Puyallup is a place where you want to live if
you are working in Seattle but want a small
Because of metro Seattle’s 2,000 miles
of travel systems (including buses, light rail,
water taxis and bike trails), attendees can
also be tourists, with an easy 30-minute
commute to enjoy sites such as the Space
Needle and Pikes Place Market, or ride a wa-
ter taxi around the Seattle waterfront.
Sue Hausmann likes to call her style of teaching “edutainment.” Her effusive personality
makes her workshops sought-after tickets.
Hausmann started sewing at age 10.
Growing up on a farm outside of Chicago,
she started working for a local fabric store
while raising her children with her husband,
Herb. With encouragement from the store
owner, Hausmann set up weekly sewing
classes and sales started soaring. Soon sewing machine manufacturer Husqvarna Viking
visited her store to ;ind out how it was selling
so many sewing machines, only to discover
Sue’s “Learn to Sew” classes were largely the
Husqvarna Viking offered her a job on
the spot—traveling the country to do sewing
demonstrations. Not ready to give up raising
her family to travel, Hausmann stayed home
until 1985, when the kids were grown.
“I thought my life was over,” she laments.
“It was Herb who said, ‘I know you really
wanted to take that traveling job with Husq-
varna Viking—let’s give it a try.’”
A few years later, Herb retired and now
they travel the country “edutaining” people
about the joys of sewing.
Hausmann understands ;irst hand how
something as simple as sewing can breathe
life into someone. When her daughter-in-law,
Janet, had a stroke at age 40, Sue watched
her struggle to regain her speech and physical strength. Months ticked by with small
strides when one day Janet came in holding
fabric and began trying to explain something
“After the stroke, Janet couldn’t speak and
“Sewing is all about community. It’s all about
celebrating that passion and that creative spirit.”