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Thread: If you owned a quilt store

  1. #1
    Super Member seamstome's Avatar
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    If you owned a quilt store

    I am posting this because of another thread on LQS closing. I am not looking for answers like I would have nicer help or be friendlier. I am looking for profit making ideas that YOU like about your LQS, that you want to have at your LQS or things you would do.

    My BFF works in a store and we go on annual trips covering 15-30 different shops a year and I think I have seen everything from a shop in someone's garage to Lolly's in Shipshewanna and Hancock's to a warehouse shop. There are reasons that some of these shops are very successful.

    We always talk about our ideal store. For me, merchandising is a biggie. I want to see samples, have everything all together to make the project in a eye-catching display, good lighting, interesting decor.

    Also I want a store that is responsive. For example, I like this one type of marking pencil. I order it on line because nobody around here carries it. I took it to a newer LQS owner and told her the reasons that I think my marking pencil is superior to what she carries and asked her to carry it. Bet it will be on her shelves soon or she will tell me why not.

    Classes and I have them on NEW things as well as the basics. This is a great profit maker plus it keeps the customer involved in your store. If I owned a store, I would have alot of classes and speakers.

    I would have a LA and that machine would be humming 24/7---okay at least 8 hours a day 6-7 days a week. Good side money plus people like to see activity.

    I would sell machines. I dont think you can make it strictly on fabric any more.

    I would HONOR Joann fabrics coupons for my loyal customers once a month. Let JA do my advertising. And I would carry all the basics to make a project, even if batting or thread had to be a loss leader or at dead cost. If I have to go to JA's to pick cheap batting, I am more likely to buy other things there.

    I would have competitive hours. None of this 10-3 stuff. If you are going to have a business, you need to have it be open. That's just a personal pet peeve of mine. Again, if I have to run to JA's because the LQS is not open at 6pm, the revenue goes to JA's.

    I would have a nice website. It is amazing when we are traveling, how many shops dont have one.

    I think to make any money you would have to do shows.

    Finally, I would move the fabric. I dont like it when I walk in and find the same fabric from a year ago.

    So this is my list, I am looking forward to your ideas.

  2. #2
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    you have a lot of great ideas.I agree sell fabric,machines and have classes.And have lots of sample quilts of the patterns and fabric being sold.lots of current books too.Are thinking about actually opening a store?
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Upnorthcrafter

  3. #3
    Junior Member wc00007's Avatar
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    I would visit your store often.

  4. #4
    Super Member 117becca's Avatar
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    As a handquilter, I want YLI thread - even if it's just the natural color - it works for 99% of what I quilt.
    my name is becca and i'm a quilt-a-holic :-)

  5. #5
    Super Member starshine's Avatar
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    The lqs near me does have a number of your suggestions, 2 nights a week they stay open till 8 pm, and some of their classes are offered on those nights, which means those of us working girls could possibly take a class after work. Some are also offered on Sat. but if your working there is a lot of competition for Sat. time, and they generally keep the Sat. classes to one day, sometimes all day.

    They do have a website and a newsletter. Most if not all months there is some promotion in the newsletter. This month it was if you spent $20.13 you would get 2 free fat eights of your choice from the f8 bins.
    They also do one day a month on Sun. when the store is closed you come in and work on whatever your own project you want. There is a fee but they provide pizza and if you do need anything supply wise if they have it in the shop you can buy it while you are there.

  6. #6
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    Sewing machines are definitely the money maker in a quilt shop. Cost of fabric plus shipping costs etc. are prohibitive. You have some great ideas, however its a tremedous job to undertake having your own quilt shop. been there done that. Retired

  7. #7
    Junior Member trennag's Avatar
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    I love the my LQS has tons of classes. The ladies are always so helpful and they have beautiful fabrics and notions. The owner is their often and very nice. They send out weekly emails\ news letters with all the latest info. they also do amazing coupon draws during sales or holidays. Keeps me coming back! Oh they also do a monthly Strip Club and i always look forward to see the New pattern they release.

  8. #8
    Super Member starshine's Avatar
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    What is YLI thread and what about it makes it desirable for handquilting?

  9. #9
    Super Member Pollytink's Avatar
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    Sounds like heaven to me! Now......please tell me what marking pencil you like? I'm having fits and wasting a lot of money trying to find one I like!

  10. #10
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    Attractive samples do sell and I appreciate responsiveness as well. I called one shop and asked if they carried a pattern and the woman said no, sorry. The next one said, no,but I'll order it for you right away.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Patti25314's Avatar
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    I work PT in a LQS. One thing that the owner does is to have classes taught/lead by local quilters. This means that several of our customers are always on the look out for what is new to bring in as a class. The classes, in addition to teaching new methods/ideas, allow for friendships to develop and grow. BTW, I think your ideas for a shop sound great. If the owner of your LQS takes your idea about the pen/marker, you might want to keep feeding her ideas. Be careful - you might end up working there.
    Since I gain weight reading cookbooks, why can't I lose weight watching a fitness program?

  12. #12
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    I help support, LOL, a quilt store that has a demo. day once a month, showcasing new tools, fabric, handy hints, new patterns. You can attend in the morning at 10 or about 1 in the afternoon. They always have a pot of coffee, or tea water on hand with home made cookies, printed recpies for cookies are there too.

  13. #13
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    I would carry fabric I didn't like so I would have a variety of fabrics. So many owners don't carry a variety of styles. I would also sell lots,of,kits.

  14. #14
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Would love it if I could rent an embroidery machine to make quilt labels like people rent LA machines. I don't know if that is feasible. Also, parking stinks at my LQS. Ample parking would be nice. I love the specialty feet for the babylock machines available at my DSILs LQS.

  15. #15
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    The LQS I worked in does have a lot of what you say. I agree with you 100% on the later hours!!!! Before retirement I HATED when shops closed before I got off work! And no, I don't want to go back out on Saturday to get what I want....I want to SEW!!!!
    Having lots of classes, being willing to have a class for even ONE customer spreads the word!!! Greeting people nicely when they walk in the door is important. But having the right notions is important!!!! Read all the quilt magazines when they come out -- look for "new" items. If I see them in the magazine, I want that product.....and hate it when I can't get it!!!

    The biggest compliment our shop gets is that we have tons of samples...of everything! And the pattern, fabric and possibly classes for those samples!!! And change those samples even if you just move them around --- what I didn't see a week ago, I just may see today because you moved it and then I'll BUY!

    Constantly bringing in new fabric --- yeah, important.
    Dee


    "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." by George Bernard Shaw

  16. #16
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    lots of samples...that change! nto the same thing from six months ago . if you are going to carry machines...be able to troubleshoot AND repair/maintain that brand! offer better hours suited to working folk...including classes. and while i like project classes, i'd also like one or two hours class on a technique...binding for example.

  17. #17
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    If I owned a quilt store...
    Didle deedle didle digga digga deedle didle dum...

    Sorry...the title of your thread put that song in my head.

    As to your question, as a newbie I've seen a couple of things that I know I wouldn't do as a shop owner:

    • Hang an arbitrary quilt on/near fabric bolts. Where is the FABRIC for that lovely quilt? Where is the PATTERN for it?
    • Website that the shop offers classes, but leaves it up to the customer to decide what he/she wants (ie: there are no 'set' classes, but merely something that essentially says: "call us and tell us what you want for a class") I don't KNOW what I don't KNOW...how can I possibly tell you what I want/need in a class if I have no clue about the hobby?!
    Last edited by Teeler; 01-27-2013 at 06:33 PM.

  18. #18
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    I would like everything about your store specially the staying open later. I work full time do can't get to my sewing until my LQS closes so if I really need something to complete my project it has to wait until I have a day off. I also like notions and tools that actually work like their hype says they do.

  19. #19
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    Teeler, you're funny. But I know the tune you are singing to. LOL Fiddler on the Roof?
    Last edited by barny; 01-27-2013 at 06:42 PM.

  20. #20
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barny View Post
    Teeler, you're funny. But I know the tune you are singing to. LOL
    Is it "if I were a rich man" from Fiddler On The Roof?

  21. #21
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    The quilt shop right up the road from me welcomes quilters to come in, bring their machine and work for awhile. There is a round table set up with chairs and when I stop in there almost always there is someone or a few sitting there just laughing up a storm. I always like to see what others are working on. I think the ladies that are home all day alone really appreciate having a place to hang out every once in awhile. The owner says no one ever stays more than about 2-3 hours and no one has ever come more than a couple times per month. The last Friday of the month, she is open until midnight and has a "sew in." You can reserve a spot at one of her many tables in the classroom and get a box dinner for $5!
    ~Laura

  22. #22
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    I travel for work and have had the luxury of visiting quilt stores in a few different states and like some more than others because of something they offer or do differently than others. For example:
    A large room for spouses that includes a large tv, pool table, and large comfy chairs. That same store has dedicated space for children with toys and chairs.
    The pattern, fabric, and supplies used in every displayed example, which would be rotated often. I've seen samples I wanted to make but the shop didn't have the supplies.
    An electronic newsletter auto sent every month.
    Easy, medium, and advanced samples.
    A large table that could be rented to layer a quilt. Many people don't have a comfortable space to do this in their home. By providing the option to rent the table, customers could feel a sense of ease if some or all of the fabric in their project wasn't purchased from the shop.
    Involve customers with selecting the type of fabrics sold.
    Open during the evening at least twice a week.
    A color wheel for use by customers.
    A sign stating fat quarters can be cut.
    A monthly sale or special.
    Classes, talks, how-to's, demos, etc
    A regularly maintained website, believe it or not I know of a store that doesn't have a website.
    A brag page on the website with photos of customers.
    Charm packs
    Fat quarters displayed with the bolt
    Muslin
    A large selection of backing fabric

    Finally, I'd keep "trendy" items to a minimum.

  23. #23
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    A display showing how the skills learned in a class on a particular block or quilt can be applied to other blocks - particularly good for beginners wanting to know why they should learn how to make a block they don't plan on using.

    A prominent section of fabric that is reduced in price.

    The only way I'll drop 10 pounds is to go shopping in England. - Maxine-

  24. #24
    Super Member seamstome's Avatar
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    Great ideas. No I don't want to own a store. I just think that we talk about the stores going out and I know there are people who own or work in stores and if we say what we like and have seen be successful it might help save a shop. I want to help the new lady in town so I do give her ideas and even made a sample for her in trade. I like the sewline trio marker...three in one so you can change from pencil (or pink) to chalk on the fly. Kind of like those pens with all colors you could click when we were kids

  25. #25
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    The ideas mentioned here are all great..but if I owned a store I would have to have a big staff to do all of the things mentioned...I managed a store on a half time salary and 2 part-time associates, but I worked the other half at home placing orders online, bookwork and samples. In order to do shows I had to get family to help, (for free-just dinner). I do remember that the best compliment to our store was the friendly service that we gave.

    like the time a man came in at 3pm and said how much would it cost to hem his pants, he was a basketball coach and needed them for a gave at 5pm. One of the girls sat right down and hemed them, he came back and we said "no charge". He couldn't believe it, gave us $20. went away very happy. We would attach badges to local firemen recuits as a way of giving back to the community.

    ---YLI is a handquilting thread that has a light wax on it that prevents it from tangling and it is very strong. It is a brand that has other sewing thread also.

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