by Sheldon Ocker
I of the Needle has moved for a third time, but it is easier to find than a needle in a haystack. Just drive north on Cleveland-Massillon Road. Before you reach Ken Stewart’s Lodge, look across the street. The address is 1864.
Bath Township takes pride in its history: century homes, Hale Farm & Village, families living in the community for generations and I of the Needle. When Taylor Simenson bought the Fairlawn business from Lauren Greenberg in 2020, she was told it was the oldest needlepoint shop in Northeast Ohio.
Simenson relocated to a building across the road from Lanning’s Restaurant, whose owner Dean Martin, a newcomer to the area, purchased the property on which I of the Needle was located. Martin didn’t renew I of the Needle’s lease and the lease of another tenant.
When Simenson returned to teaching and moved to Colorado, her mother, Jeanne Thomarios, took over the business. Needlepoint already was a hobby to Thomarios, and she regularly helped her daughter operate I of the Needle.
“I have three women working for me part time, and it’s wonderful,” she said. “I never intended to run the shop, but here I am and it’s nice. It’s a great craft, and I have wonderful customers.”
Thomarios was informed last spring that her lease would not be renewed, so she scouted locations and continued to operate on a month-to-month lease. Until two days after Christmas, when a pipe in the ceiling burst and flooded the shop.
“I lost thousands of dollars worth of canvasses,” she said. “It was awful.”
By that time, she had purchased her current shop, which had housed NorthFork Art Gallery until its owner, Margaret Lytz, died last year.
I of the Needle moved in a week after the flood destroyed the previous location. Thomarios has finally settled in after converting and expanding an adjacent garage from 1,500 square feet to 2,500 square feet as home to I of the Needle. It opened at the end of September. She plans to rent the former art gallery.
“It was so cramped at the other place, it’s nice to have space to display things,” said employee Mary Kay Roediger.
Customers have no problem finding the new store. When her daughter left for Colorado, Thomarios’s husband Paul thought that would be the end for I of the Needle.
“It was growing like crazy,” she said. “My husband can’t believe how busy it is. He thought it was a crazy thing to do. ‘Who’s going to buy threads?’ he said. Then I showed him the sales I’m doing.”
Paul Thomarios is not planning on working in the shop, but his construction company was in charge of revamping the garage, which now includes a studio space for classes.
Needlepoint enthusiasts can choose from a vast variety of hand-painted canvasses priced from $30 to $450 plus an endless rainbow of threads, which customers turn into designs for pillows and wall hangings, among other items.
Some unique items include cross stitch kits from England. Thomarios said, “They’re a totally different design with a totally different feel. They’re really unique, and I’m the only one selling them in Ohio.”
In addition to the kind of canvasses one might find in grandma’s house, there are needlepoint items for kids and sports fans.
“I have to have a lot of different things that appeal to a lot of different tastes,” Thomarios said. “A lot of people want Cleveland Indians canvasses, and I can still get them,” she said. “Nobody has asked me for anything that says Guardians.” ∞
Photo: Jeanne Thomarios took over I of the Needle from her daughter. Photo by Sheldon Ocker.
The new 2,500 square foot I of the Needle building is located on Cleveland-Massilon Road. Photos by Laura Bednar.
The new building includes studio space for customers to take classes.