Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
If you have purchased “store brand” ribbon or holiday bows from Target, Walmart or JoAnn’s, chances are they made by Berwick Offray. In 2002 Berwick industries bought out Offray and continues to produce ribbon under several names. Offray ribbon has held Olympic medals, wrapped Godiva chocolates and Williams-Sonoma cookware and blue ribbons. The company also produces Cleo brand gift packaging products as well.
Recently, I relocated to the Hagerstown, MD area and I learned that there was a processing plant and an adjoining outlet store. Before my move, I owned about 20 rolls of ribbon (coincidentally many of them were Offray ribbon.) The prices in the outlet store are excellent and I quickly acquired 300 rolls of ribbon. I am not the only “local” with ribbonitis- local resellers, florists, crafters and scrapbookers are frequent visitors, too. As you can see, I am extremely partial to polka dots!
Adding ribbon has been a simple and cost effective way to recycle clothing. I recently decorated my daughter’s plain white cotton shirt with flowers made with polka dot grosgrain ribbon and I added satin ribbon for the stems and trim around the sleeves. The project required a small amount of hand sewing to attach the flowers and trim. To prevent the ribbon from unraveling, I lightly dabbed the cut ends with clean nail polish. I have washed the shirt by hand without any problems.
Highlights of a visit to the Berwick Offray ribbon outlet in Hagerstown include:
- Large bins containing 10-cent rolls of ribbon- Rolls can contain anywhere from a few feet to 12 yards. These bins contain overruns, discontinued, defective or private label ribbon. For example I recently purchased rolls of Halloween ribbon labeled for the defunct Rag Shop. The selection varies from visit to visit and if you needed a large quantity of a particular ribbon it might not be available.
- Multiple tables of ribbon priced by the roll- The ribbon is roughly sorted by type- holiday, wire edged, organzas, velvets, etc. Great way to save money on shower or wedding favors or other large projects.
- Grab bags of pre-cut ribbon- Value priced and always a generous quantity of 2-3 styles. Prices range from 35 cents to $1.29 for the “stuff a bag full of ribbon remnants” option.
- Large bins of pre-made package bows- If you visit the store with children let them pick and choose their own bows to fill a plastic grocery size bag. For 25 cents per bag this is a very cost effective way to entertain kids while you shop.
- Large bins of scrapbooking embellishments- Cute bows, printed ribbon, flags and much more are priced from 50 cents to one dollar. Plan to spend some time “digging” into the pile.
You might wonder- do the extremely low outlet prices for ribbon speak for its quality? Many E-Bay resellers refuse to sell “Offray outlet ribbon”. I consider myself a careful shopper because I inspect things before I purchase them. The Hagerstown facility doesn’t manufacture the ribbon but rather it dyes and prints on it (12 million yards per week). Thus, I have seen very small lots of ribbon with misspelled words, misaligned polka dots and inconsistent color and it is priced accordingly. The inconsistent color might appear as variations between dye lots or satin ribbon that is darker along one edge than the other (I actually like some of those rolls!) For the most part, the ribbon appears defect free.
Several people have asked me how I organize my ribbon. I am in the process of removing it from the rolls and storing it in an Iris chest sorted by color. I have grand dreams of creating a master swatchbook which includes samples, color names and item numbers. For now swatches of some of my favorite ribbon adorns the spirals of the book.
Probably my biggest issue with ribbon in general (not just Offray) is that sometimes I don’t have the right color for my project. I have used various online tutorial and have custom dyed ribbon with reinkers and inkpads. Both satin and grosgrain ribbon from Offray take color extremely well and I am partial to the 3/8 inch white satin ribbon for many projects.
- Diverse product line- wide variety of colors and widths
- High quality product/ great value for the price
- Widely available in major chain craft stores
- 2 outlet stores with discount pricing
- Very traditional styles- nothing very “trendy”
- No coordinating paper line
I have used Offray ribbon for many years and I have been very happy with their consistent quality and reliability. Offray ribbon is available at most major chain discount and craft stores, outlet stores in Berwick, PA and Hagerstown, MD and online at RibbonDeals.com. Before moving to Hagerstown I rated Offray: 8/10. Now that I have discovered their outlet store, I rate them 9.25/10.
Have you used this brand of ribbon for many years like me? Let us know what you think!