Some things are just meant to be. Sally Volkert Bissell was ready to move away from the day-to-day operations of The Canvasback, a nationally known needlepoint shop here in Northfield. At the same time Eilene Isaacs, a recently retired executive from Saks Fifth Avenue, was looking for a new and exciting venture.
A Northfield resident since 1985, Eilene taught for a number of years at Lake Forest Academy and became their Academic Dean. From there, she became the Assistant Dean of the Business School at the University of Illinois, before buying and growing a retail consulting firm. She was then recruited to be the Vice President of Operation Services for Saks Fifth Avenue.
Eilene commuted weekly from Northfield to Saks’s corporate offices in New York for 27 years before retiring last fall. In retirement, she rediscovered her childhood love of art. She began painting, and quickly realized she simply has too much energy for retirement! As a long-time Canvasback customer, Eilene regularly read their newsletter, where she came across an article stating that Sally was anxious to sell the business and retire. Eilene reached out to Sally about purchasing the business and the more they talked, the more it made sense.
The stars aligned, and the two collaborated on a sale that placed Eilene as the new owner, but gave Sally a continued role doing what she likes best. The same team of six employees will remain on staff, each with their own area of expertise. Eilene sees needlepoint as a growing trend and great opportunity for those who enjoy adult coloring books. Similar to coloring books, needlepoint is an artistic and creative outlet that reduces stress. But unlike a finished coloring book, a completed needlepoint project makes a thoughtful gift for loved ones or beautiful addition to your home.
Eilene has big plans for the shop, including Thursday evening hours, a men’s group, a grandmother/ granddaughter program, online shopping capabilities and a drop-in area for anyone working on projects. The shop will continue to offer an outstanding selection of handpainted canvases, fibers and services, as well as the high levels of customer service for which it is already so well known. These are exciting times at The Canvasback, be sure to join them!