The Cloth Castle
Travel far and travel wide, you are unlikely to find a business and a proprietor as unique as The Cloth Castle and owner, Sylvia Ratcliffe. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, this business, once a yarn store, offers fabrics of all sorts including quilting material and felt, as well as sewing machines, accessories, notions, craft kits for kids, and so much more. But what sets this business apart from others, however, is the love, care and respect that is dispensed with every purchase.
As Sylvia puts it, “I’m a people person and I have faith. I care for people, truly care about them. To me, that’s more important than making money, although I’m glad we’re still here, after all these years. The community has been so incredibly supportive and we are eternally grateful for that.”
The business, always family owned, has operated from several different locations, all within Langford, and Sylvia wouldn’t have it any other way. “We are very grateful to Mayor and Council for the way they continue to support the business community.” And we appreciate the efforts other businesses in Langford too. “One of the things I like to do,” says Sylvia, “is welcome new businesses. There is strength in numbers and building a strong business community can only help each of us.”
Sylvia’s work has many different dimensions. A few years ago, the company sewed masks for Australian firefighters. Now they make masks—“one hundred percent cotton because it breathes”—and head gear for nurses right here. In addition, family members sew for people, making repairs. They also offer classes in sewing and quilting. “With the pandemic, many people have gone back to basics, like sewing and quilting, so it’s wonderful to be able to help people either learn new skills or brush up on old ones,” Sylvia says. “Two of my employees have been with me for 25 years,” Sylvia says. “So we operate as a great team, that’s for sure!”
Earlier in her life, Sylvia was a Salvation Army officer and ran its first thrift store; she’s also organized community dinners. Two years ago, she set up an on-line store and with the challenges of the pandemic, introduced curb-side pickup. After 50 years, it’s quite clear that Sylvia Ratcliffe and The Cloth Castle are on a mission not just to sell their products and contribute to the community, but to make people happy. It’s quite the story!