GRAFTON -- With tears of joy glistening in her eyes, Kathy Cray used a pair of comically-big scissors to symbolically usher in the next chapter of her life.
The Grafton resident welcomed about 25 guests to Wednesday's ribbon-cutting at the new Grafton Village Quilts, which she hopes will cater to the tourist crowds this picturesque Vermont town draws year after year.
"Welcome to my shop," she said to cheers and applause before cutting the a pink ribbon outside of her business at 194 Main St.
Cray, who owns the operation with her husband John, said the store is not just a business, but a dream come true.
"I've been wanting to do this for 25 years and my plan was to do it in another two and a half, but we moved it up," she told the Reformer inside her roughly 200-square-foot shop. "I've been collecting and studying for almost 30 years."
Cray said Grafton Village Quilts' niche is geared toward antique quilts and quilt tops, most of which date back to the 19th century and some even predate the Civil War. Prices of the products, which evoke the simpler times of yesteryear, range from $75 to $5,000. Cray said 5 percent of her profits will be donated to the Grafton Historical Society to assist with the renovation of the Athens Brick Meeting House. The business officially opened its doors on Aug. 1.
Roger Riccio, the executive director of the Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce, was present at the ribbon-cutting with Chamber member Pat Fowler and offered Cray his support.
"I think that as people in general, we should always be wanting to give back," he said. "When you come through town and you see several businesses open and going, it makes you believe that that community is thriving and not having a bunch of empty storefronts. When you drive through Grafton, that's what you expect -- you expect to see the little businesses that in the house or in the little shops.
"Even if it's not in our area," he continued, "we want businesses to thrive because we want Vermont to be successful and we want people to come here and we want tourism."
Riccio said people like to spend money at businesses that are kind to their local communities.
Cray said, in addition to the quilts and quilt tops, she will also sell antique quilting tools and Featherweight sewing machines made between 1936 and 1957.
"They're still the best thing to sew with," she said. Every item is labeled and documented in a series of black binders.
Cray will also display some of her own works as well as pieces made by area women Susie Cross, Joan Lake and Christine Dyke.
She also plans to hold four lectures a year (the most recent was held on Thursday, Aug. 22), with all ticket sales going to the Grafton Historical Society. She said she will also tutor young people in her shop and teach people how to restore and conserve antique quilts.
Cray also said she hopes to create a notebook so "people can bring in stories and pictures of quilts that have touched their lives."
Attached to the Phebe Frost House, where she and her husband live, Grafton Village Quilts is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and by chance or appointment.