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Thread: Business Idea

  1. #51
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    I think market research is essential! Just because there are no LQS or fabric sources nearby does NOT mean there are quilters in the area. You definitely need to know what your potential customer base is based on some facts - sewing machine repairs, purchases, quild members etc. maybe you could buy a subscription list from some quilting magazines localized for your area.
    Market research is always the first money spent on a business investment. If it shows a bad market, then it is considered a very good investment. It saves all the other money you might have spent. Talk to your banker about an investment loan large enough to cover 2 years of operation. Even if you don't intend to take the loan, his advice is invaluable.
    Last edited by TanyaL; 03-12-2012 at 09:10 AM.

  2. #52
    Senior Member DonnaFreak's Avatar
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    There is a lady near here who advertises fabric on etsy.com, and about once a month she'll hold a garage sale. Fabrics that aren't selling well will go for $2.00/yd. and she sells a lot of remnants at very affordable prices. She has fabric completely lining one side of her garage and about half of the back of it, with 2 tables for remnants and a cutting table. Just thought I'd give you another option in case your city ordinances won't allow you to sell out of a truck. :c)

    Donna

    Quote Originally Posted by lasews View Post
    I've been kicking around an idea for about a year now, and decided it was time to discuss it with other quilters. I live in rural Illinois, and like many of you, have limited local shops for purchasing fabric. The ones that are available are often 30+ minutes away. Not a big deal except that I work full time so it's not always convenient to go running around after fabric.

    I've been thinking of starting a Fabric Truck where I would take the fabric to small towns around me. I could sit on the town square or in large parking lots, and open my truck up as a storefront. I would also be available to travel to quilt guild meetings if anyone was interested in that.

    What do you all think? Only honest opinions please. It would be mainly Saturdays or by appointment.

    Thanks for your input.
    DonnaFreak

    "Some days it's just not worth it to chew through the leather straps."

  3. #53
    Super Member callen's Avatar
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    What a unique idea. Do lots of research re; bylaws etc. & figuring out costs for transportation, gas etc. & best of luck in your search & your idea. You just might find a much needed 2nd career.
    Dance like no one is watching

  4. #54
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    Go to QuiltBus.com and talk with the lady that owns it. She has a school bus, I believe, and takes it around to areas for shopping. This is the same as QuiltBug.com located in New York. She has a store and on online store plus the traveling bus. I think it would be worth a try.
    OzarksGma

  5. #55
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    I live in a small town and have to travel 25 miles one way to a Joanns, and much further to a local quilt shop. I buy a lot fabric on line, but it would be nice to see fabric in person, especially when I'm trying to match colors. Also the cost of shipping on-line orders has gone up. We have a farmer's market once a week in my town and it would be wonderful to have fabrics sold there every week...I wouldn't be able to resist it and probably buy fabrics I hadn't intended to.

    Having a set schedule, like once a week or once a month, when people know when and where you will be will bring repeat customers.

  6. #56
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarieM View Post
    I live in Montana - 30 minutes isn't rural here.
    Nope, not in my part of New Hampshire either! "Local" quilt shops are anything within a 60 mile radius and even that distance doesn't stop us from checking in often just to see what's new. Half the pleasure is the hunt after all.

    I wish you luck, but I think you're looking backwards instead of forwards with this idea.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  7. #57
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    We have a fellow that does that with tires at peoples homes, and We also have people that sharpen knives and scissors ans lawn mower blades etc and homes at offices.

    I would just do it. If the town catches up with you it is no big deal they will tell you how to go about it. My daughter did that in several area with a hot dog stand. There were approached in some towns and not in others. There were just told the laws, no big deal.
    I would go to fairs and farmers markets. Just sitting in your shop will not get the word out. Make sure you bring your cards and get a web site up to sell on line or free delivery over a certain amount of money. Make a delivery route and stick to it or charge for delivery.

  8. #58
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    I think you've got an idea that is very "geographically" centered. I would not need you where I live in Oregon but where my sister lives in Eastern Washington and sister in law in Montana, they would flock to your truck. At one time I did see a website that had an old school bus fixed up as a fabric shop. He/she went from town to town on the east coast and sold fabric and also did quilt workshops etc. So the guild or quilt group would sign up and have the owner drive into town, set up the bus shop and teach a class at the local community center, grange or whatever. I loved the idea! What a great adventure. Just think of the places you would see and the people you would meet! Also you have a build in resource here at this board. Write up a great business plan (Do you have someone who can help you do this?), do your research and good luck!

  9. #59
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    Sounds like a great idea.

  10. #60
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    Holy cow what a bunch of scardie cats. I owned my own bridal shop in 2 different locations. Talk to insurance companies. They told me. NOT TO INSURE IT> in order for someone to su me I had to be totally at fault and have to put that person in harms way purposely. Eg. left latter on the ground in front of door.Really stupid stuff. They all told me no need for insurance.

    we rent our cottage. Last year we stated to put an addition on did not get it finished. Building inspector called to tell us she had not given us occupancy permit and we COULD NOT RENT IT. I asked why. She said if the insurance company found out they MIGHT give us a hard time. I said for your information I DO NOT HAVE INSURANCE AND HAVE NOT HAD IT FOR OVER 50 years. Then I said how can you tell me the laws when you tell me to go to the local lumber yard to find out building codes because you have no idea how to read the new code book or how to tell people what to build. That shut her up.
    Use your head people are so su crazy it hurts. Make sure it is a business not you personally.
    I have seen su cases they are so phony and no one gets anything.
    Our cottage we rented for 26+ years the company filed bankrupsy last year rented our place after the bankrupsy that I still can't get a dime from them. They still own millions of dollars worth of property.

  11. #61
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    used to be a GOOD idea...however, the NEW tax laws could shut you down your first month. Then comes permits, for EVERY state/town you are in, then comes insurance riders out the wazoo.....talk to people who vendor quilt shows, they can tell you what it is like! As for the rural aspect. Man,,,I hate to say it, but I tried to vendor some shows in "rural" areas of TX, OK, and KS and did not do well at all. Rural people still expect rural prices. SO, unless you spend a fortune on advertising to the closest BIG town where the folks who work have expendable income, you will be selling your stuff for far less than you paid for it! So that means you LOSE money!
    Perhaps you could find a flea market to set up a booth in. Aside from that, a 30 minute drive is NOTHING compared to some places. My sister lives in rural TX and she has to drive more than 1 hour in any direction to find a fabric store other than walmart!

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen View Post
    I don't know about a truck but a used school bus might be just the thing. It's fairly easy to rip out the seats and customize the interior.
    Yes, we'd prefer a small school bus over a truck or trailer.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackie Spencer View Post
    Have you thought about having a web-site and just selling from your home? I have a friend who does that and she has been very successful. fabricbuffet.com
    yes, that's in my plan also. I think the internet is the future for making money, but some people certainly want an in-person experience.

  14. #64
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    Thank you for this contact. I appreciate it!

  15. #65
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    Thank you all so much for your input! I truly appreciate it all - positive & negative - that's why I asked on here. I knew everyone would have an opinion. After reading your replies, I realized I hadn't been specific enough. We are considering a school bus, and it would be big enough for people to shop inside. That's my plan - a mobile store. Farmer's Markets are wonderful ideas - thank you for that!

    Keep the comments coming. I will certainly be doing more market research and I've already discussed it with my accountant. Not sure what the future holds but definitely looking forward to it!

  16. #66
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    years ago we had a lady come every Friday to our quilt club and sell fabric and items from her truck. It was converted to be just like a quilt shop. She had everything and could cut material in it too. That was before the internet so I don't know how it would be today. I wish you luck in whatever you decide.

  17. #67
    Senior Member newbiequilter's Avatar
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    Also (don't know if anyone has mentioned this) but would you have a monetary limit in obtaining fabrics from manufacturers?

  18. #68
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    I think Farmer's Markets would already have the necessary liability insurance and permits, saving you the trouble, and the cost would be passed on to you in the cost of the rental space, but it would probably be less than paying for those items on your own.
    In addition to selling fabric, you might also sell some finished quilts and quilt gifts for non-quilters in order to expand your customer base. Also, maybe make your own quilt kits for sale.

  19. #69
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    I think it is a great idea for rural areas where it is difficult to get to a good shop. Personally I seldom shop over the internet because with out fail on the rare occasions when I see something that I just have to have and I've succumbed to shopping online, I have been disappointed with what I bought. Colours and textures just aren't the same when looked at through a monitor. On the other side I also like to feel the fabric, so I say go for it once you have nutted out all the pro's and cons. If you already have the vehicle and start up costs are kept low then why not?
    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
    - John Lennon

  20. #70
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    If you were in my area I would visit your traveling store. I can order on line, but I like to touch my fabric. Good luck to you.
    We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.

  21. #71
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    I think its a wonderful thing to do.
    You never know, you might start more people quilting.
    GOD bless!

  22. #72
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    Interesting idea! I'm sure this would be a welcome idea in rural areas.

  23. #73
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    I think there is already a business like this called "Quilt Bus" or something like that. They have been in business for a long time so there must be a market for it. Just check out local ordinances like everyone else has suggested.

  24. #74
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    I've never heard of this before and I'm not sure what to tell you. If you have looked into the zoning and bylaw, and can afford to do this, good luck to you. What would attract me to a truck would be great prices, and friendly service. If your prices are only marginally less than a LQS I wouldn't bother. Just saying...

  25. #75
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    I live in a small town where Walmart is the only place to purchase fabric. I do have 3 LQS within a 20 to 30 mile range, however, neither has a very large stock of fabrics making the selection of colors and fabric lines very limited. I usually go into the city which is about 1 1/2 hrs drive one way to purchase my fabric and quilting supplies as I like to purchase everything I will need for a project at the same time. While I would love to have a fabric truck come to my town, based on my shopping habits, you would need to stock not only a nice size collection and variety of fabric but also a complete line of quilting supplies at a cost that would be competative with the larger shops in the city. I do think that your idea is great and I hope that it works out for you.
    Fabric is like money, no matter how much you have it's never enough.

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