Paper City Fabrics Owner Joseph Charles poses with some of the many fabrics available inside the new store located in downtown Holyoke.
Reminder Publishing photo by Trent Levakis

HOLYOKE — As the city continues to expand on its efforts to revitalize the downtown area, new store Paper City Fabrics is another new business playing its part in the city’s growth.

Located at 322 High St., Paper City Fabrics offers affordable fabric, notions and soon sewing classes using a thrift store model. Owners Joseph Charles and Jeffrey Cattel have established their storefront in the heart of the city and excited to offer such a great resource to the community.

“There’s a lot of great people in Holyoke trying to do really great things, and so if we can just be a part of that that’s really our goal. To bring something fun and new to downtown,” Charles said.

The affordability is just one of the things that stands out to make Paper City Fabrics unique. For $4 per yard of fabric, the thrift store model helps promote a recycling method as the business is committed to recirculating fabrics and notions to other makers and making sewing affordable and accessible for everyone, while preventing wasted material from ending up in landfills.

“Everything here is donated. It comes from all over the place. Broadway, movie sets, upholstery shops that have closed down, home sellers,” Charles said. “It’s all taking stuff that would end up in the trash or the landfill and giving it a new home.”

Charles added the concept of owning a thrift style fabrics store was a new concept for him coming from the “ridiculously expensive” prices of New York City, but after a trip to Swanson’s Fabrics in Turners Falls and seeing the practice firsthand, he saw what was possible.

“We met Catherine Greenwood Swanson, who has Swanson’s Fabrics in Turners Falls, and we befriended her and she was like, ‘Why don’t you do this in Holyoke?’ and that sort of started the whole thing for us,” Charles said.

For the last two years the business was only online but as it grew, as well its presence through Tik Tok with almost 5,000 followers, they expanded with a storefront in the city to be the home of their business. Now the store is opened and a new and unique resource for the community has been born.

“It was cool to go in there and be like, oh this is super cheap and its gorgeous fabric. We get it for free so we’re able to give it back,” Charles said. “Some of its vintage, antique, we get a lot of cool stuff.”

Charles added now having the store, it helps with business as many makers want to feel and see the fabric in person rather than purchasing online.

Partners Charles and Cattel moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Holyoke four years ago. Charles has a background in fashion and costume design in theater while Cattel’s background was in digital and social media marketing. The community has already seen Charles skills shared as he has helped with Holyoke High School’s last two productions through costume design.

Paper City Fabrics opened in February and so far, business has been great according to Charles. He said many quilters and home sellers have frequented the store and he hopes the store will help in the city’s efforts of brining more foot traffic downtown.

“For us we really wanted to put something here that looked like it had always been here. Holyoke was this rich, thriving community back in the day especially for textiles and textile mills so we really just wanted to put something that went with that vibe,” Charles said.

The ceiling and floor of the store is the same originals from 1920, Charles added. The business wouldn’t have found its home at this time without help from the city and MassDevelopment.

Last fall MassDevelopment announced a grant for $47,450 in its Transformative Development Initiative Equity Investment program to Paper City Fabrics to support the build-out of its sewing school and retail space. Renovations will include new systems and finishes, plus restoration of the original floor and carpentry.

While the sewing classroom is still under construction, Charles hopes that by late spring enrollment for sewing classes can begin. He said at first, they plan on starting with children’s classes before expanding to more offerings for the community such as quilting classes.

“We have so much space back there where our classroom space will be so we’re excited to get that going,” Charles said.

tlevakis@thereminder.com | + posts