In the late 1990’s, the prices for feedsacks on EBay began to rise; sometimes novelty and juvenile sacks would sell for big prices, and even some other, more ordinary ones were bringing good money. After we sold a number of them, we realized that the high bidders – the ones actually driving the market at the time – were the Japanese. Quilting was apparently very popular in Japan, and the Japanese fell in love with the feedsack – the most American of fabrics. So we did our best to tell all our bidders about our web page, even as we went out and bought hundreds more feedsacks at local estate sales, flea markets and auctions.
By this time we’ve sent thousands of feedsacks to Japan, though their popularity has since waned somewhat, and received some gifts in return, including kimonos, books and magazines, a Japanese-English business dictionary, and best of all a little bit of an understanding of a part of Japanese culture. And an understanding of what the Japanese mean by “Kawaii”, which we translate as Cute.
As the millennium arrived, there were 10 feedsack pages and 9 of fabrics; but other big changes were under way. We bought the domain name rickrack.com at the beginning of 2000. Though the site was still on Angelfire, the domain name made it easier for more people to remember and find the site. By the end of 2000, there would be 15 feedsack pages, 10 of vintage cottons, and new kitchen linens, drapery fabric and quilts departments, too! And we finally added credit card capability in mid 2000.
During all this time, we handled a lot of fabric – many hundreds of feedsacks made their way to Japan as well as to collectors throughout the USA, Australia, Canada and a few other countries besides. We were on our way to becoming experts in the field – since there was no teacher or text available, we had to rely on our own experience, and any clues we came across. Now we can recognize feedsack fabric at ten paces; sometimes we argue about the date of a particular fabric print, but that’s because we’ve learned that various styles repeat over the years, and the 1890’s produced their share of stylized prints that remind you of the art deco prints of the 1920’s and the moderne prints of the 1950’s. Usually the color settles the argument.
By our third anniversary in 2001 we had added a hanky department as well, and were still adding more fabrics and linens. As the site grew and grew, we actually began to get noticed by the world at large. We have continued to grew since that time, luckily (for us) not at the breakneck pace of our early years. We’ve added pillowcases, potholders and some fancy antique linens and lace. This year’s only appreciable additions have been a page for vintage napkins, a page for tablecloth specials, and this blog.