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Thread: Business Idea

  1. #21
    Senior Member ThayerRags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    ... Lots to think about.
    My wife and I are in very rural Oklahoma, and have customers in small communities around us, so actually, I have thought about this, a lot, and can add a few more considerations:

    How will I be able to protect my goods during bad weather? (Rain storms, dust storms, smoke, etc.)
    - Even getting our inventory from a Quilt Show building and into the vehicle without getting anything wet in the rain is a challenge. An outdoor-only venue amplifies that challenge. Don’t forget about bird droppings on a nice day....

    How much inventory will my customers want to see? What will they buy?
    - There are thousands of cotton prints, and even more color tones. How do I select inventory? Since I have put $1000 (wholesale) worth of fabric into the backseat of a Supercab pickup truck several times, with space left over, what do I take on the road?

    How do I recoup my loss if I or a customer drops a bolt of fabric onto the ground in a wet parking lot?
    - I didn’t mean to, and THEY didn’t mean to, but the whole bolt could be damaged from one slip.

    How can I compete price-wise with the on-line sellers setting at home in their easy chair?
    - Few buyers know (or care) that some on-line “stores” consist of a computer on the kitchen table and inventory crammed into a garage or backyard shed to provide minimal overhead costs. IMO, a pretty web page is not as hard to achieve as an attractive display in a shop or at a parking lot miles away from your home, in the rain, in the wind, in the smoke, in the elements. Some on-line sellers “sell on demand” too, if you didn’t know. They offer fabric for sale on their site, and if they get any “hits”, they order the fabric from their supplier. It happens all of the time. Sometimes they can fill your order, sometimes not.

    I too, have a romantic urge to take our wares “on the road”. I just haven’t figured out a way to do it.
    - A little history: Years ago, small fabric shops had traveling fabric salesmen come around to shops with bolts of fabric to sell wholesale to a retailer. The lady that had our shop before us bought a large part of her inventory “off of the truck” on the street just outside of the front door. That’s the way they did business back then. But remember, that was back in the days when several small shops sold fabric in the same community, so the salesman had a fair chance of selling something in each community. However, those fabric salesmen are few and far between these days. We still do get one from time to time, but rarely, and the fabric is generally close-out fabrics and bolt-ends. Our first-run salesmen come by these days with photos of new fabric lines. They usually don’t even have fabric swatches anymore. The fabric won’t be produced unless enough shops sign up for some, so there are no swatches to bring to us. Basically, it’s a “design idea” that we have to buy, if we want it, and even then, we won’t know if we’ll get the fabric until later on, usually six months or more later. Not all of the fabrics that we “order” are ever produced, so we don’t get them. The manufacturers don’t produce most fabrics that are not already sold by the marketing staff (at least their “minimum” amount). I think that they call it “on demand” sales, or something.

    With the economy being as it is, I think we’ll see folks being less mobile in their shopping, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will shop locally. The internet can provide their “out of town” access to products in many cases. Why would they “catch the fabric truck” on a schedule, when they can shop far-away places at all hours of the day and night? Not being able to feel the fabric prior to purchase is becoming less of a consideration these days.

    Also, I think that you’ll soon find yourself asking your customers what they want you to bring with you the next time that you come to their parking lot. Obviously, you won’t want to bring things that they don’t show an interest in, right? But....now we’re also involved with “on demand” sales, aren’t we? What are you going to do with all of that merchandise that is not “on demand” or “in demand”? Keep hauling it around?

    CD in Oklahoma
    "I sew, I sew, so it's off to work I go!!!"
    ThayerRags Fabric Center
    http://thayerrags.com/

  2. #22
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    An issue I would have would be storage unless you have a truck/van that can double as a storage unit. Loading and unloading fabric is a heavy job too. I can see outdoor markets as having a lot of traffic, but you need to be able to protect the fabric from the elements. In our climate selling out of a truck in the summer would require air conditioning. I think a major concern would be the cost of a permit for selling in every community and the safety/liability insurance issues with people climbing in and out of a truck. One positive is that if people want to see th color of a fabric in true light, they wouldn't have to go far to get outside.
    Dayle

  3. #23
    Junior Member psthreads's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great idea. Be sure to check out ordinences.

  4. #24
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    In order to purchase your fabric for resale, would you have enough volume to get discounts from the vendors? How about checking with your not-so-local LQS to see if you could work a deal with them since they are already established?

    Check with your local guilds about vendoring there. I know with mine you have to be a member to have a table at the guild meeting.

    We're not trying to throw cold water on your idea. Just making sure you have thought everything through.
    Carol in Michigan

  5. #25
    Super Member dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, someone is doing this. I don't remember where I saw it, or when, but I do remember seeing pictures of people "shopping" in the back of a truck. Do a google search, you should find something.
    I remember reading about someone doing this too. I think it might have been in Canada.

    Found it - Quilt Shop in a semi:
    Last edited by dunster; 03-11-2012 at 06:02 PM.

  6. #26
    Super Member SouthPStitches's Avatar
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    There was a couple in the central NY area that used to pull with their truck, a utility trailer filled with fabric. They would alert someone in the local guild when and where they would be parking. You could walk into the trailer (not always an easy feat for older customers) and pick out your fabric. Their prices were similar to Joann's at the time. They would pitch a tarp and that's where they would cut the fabric and do the financial transactions, so if the weather was less then desirable, it was difficult for them and for their customers. With gas just a few pennies under $4.00 and the high price of cotton, have to believe it would be difficult to turn a decent profit now. As often as I buy fabric online, there is still nothing better than seeing and touching the fabric though.

  7. #27
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    I live in the same type of area ..............I would buy from you .... if prices were reasonable

  8. #28
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    Contact the lovely Kris Driessen at Quiltbug.com in Esperance, NY. They had a QuiltBus that travelled around to quilt Guilds and shows, teaching classes- possibly the bus SouthPStitches is referring to. It was before I moved to the area several years ago so I never saw it. I'm sure she could give you food for thought and great advice. With the price of gas and the sales on the internet I'm not sure if is still an economically feasible idea. I've been to the shop several times- very nice folks, fast shipping.

  9. #29
    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandra in Minnesota View Post
    Why not sell at the Farmer's Market on Saturday and hand out your business cards about your mobile fabric shop??
    That was my first thought! Go for it!
    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

  10. #30
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    I lived in the North of England and was impressed with the number of travelling trucks enterprising business people had to service people in rural areas. There was a general store - type one, and a sewing one, and a butcher. I often went to the cafe truck which used to turn up at sport events or bus stops to sell coffee and cake, fast food etc. It was warm to sit in rather than tand outside. Anyway, as long as you do your math etc., I think it could be very successful. You may find it helpful to look up when the local markets are on in each place and park your truck nearby so that you have a ready crowd, or supply other necessary items (perhaps tools) other than sewing, to encourage customers.
    In the area I live now, a man comes up from the coast and sets himself up in the local church hall. He puts an advertisement in our local paper about a week beforehand and emails all of the quilt groups or previous customers that he will be coming. Good luck with the enterprise and 'go for it'.

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