Wurzberger was the owner of Norton House Quilting, which she deemed a “quilter’s paradise” when the store found its home in the Norton House over 50 years ago. Upon her death, to Hammer’s surprise, Wurzberger left the business to her.
“I had been working with my grandma for 20 years when she passed,” says Hammer. “Which is bizarre to say, considering I’m only 31 years old.”
Hammer says that although it came as a surprise that she ended up inheriting the business, there was a time when running it was part of her life vision. When she graduated from high school, Hammer moved to Wilmington. “I was assuming she would hand me the keys,” says Hammer. “But the exact opposite happened.”
Wurzberger wasn’t ready to let her business go. “She was the most determined and spitfire woman ever,” says Hammer.
Hammer did become involved in the business at that time, though, working there and creating a Facebook page for it, which catapulted it into the 21st century. “I began posting fabrics on Facebook, and people would see them and call the shop to say they wanted them,” says Hammer. “It was all overwhelming to my grandma.”
But to Hammer, it was exciting. “When Facebook was really taking off, I was engrossed with it,” says Hammer. She ended up moving away and creating her own business developing and managing social media for small businesses in Keene, NH, where she still lives.
After her grandmother died, though, Hammer felt drawn back to the Norton House. “I felt a responsibility to keep the store going, and I couldn’t help but keep showing up,” says Hammer. “It’s a bit of a commute but it’s totally worth it. I can’t help it; I keep coming back.”
Hammer says honoring her grandmother’s legacy is of utmost importance to her, particularly when it comes to the quilt show. “I want it to be officially in honor of her every year for the rest of time,” says Hammer.
It’s apropos, since the show itself is about honoring family. “My grandma’s original vision for the show was to have the community bring in their historical quilts,” says Hammer. “People bring quilts from family members, whether it’s grandmothers, aunts or other relatives, and we have one space where we can all reminisce as a community and look back at historical quilt blocks.”
This year, the Norton House is teaming up with Loose Knit Group, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing meals to area children on weekends when they aren’t at school. “All of the proceeds will go to LKG,” says Hammer. “They deserve it. What they do is so important.”
Hammer will also have assistance from her trusted employee Beckie Black, who worked for her grandmother and who Hammer says has helped her immensely as she’s transitioned into owning and running the store.
“I would not be able to run the quilt show or the store without her,” says Hammer. “She is my true partner in crime. The things I lack, she picks up. We complement each other very well.”
And of course, the quilt show will be a family affair for Hammer. Her grandfather, Al Wurzberger, will be there to help, as will her twin boys, who are 8 years old.
“My grandfather and I talked about it the other night and this year, we’re going to have it down pat,” says Hammer. “The boys are able to screw in the quilt rack now, and they’re always interested in where each quilt goes. So the whole family will be there to help.”