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Thread: Thinking of opening a quilt shop...

  1. #1
    Member Quilting_inthe_Rain's Avatar
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    Hi everyone! Does anyone have an idea how much it costs to buy fabric wholesale? I'd really like to open my own quilt shop, but keep running into road blocks when it comes to buying fabric wholesale. I want to get an idea on pricing so i can determine chances of turning a profit. However, the wholesale stores online that i've been to, granted that i haven't been to many (i.e. http://www.quiltworksonline.com/ or http://www.robertkaufman.com/), you can't look at their products/pricing until you register, and in order to register they expect you to already have a business (i.e. they ask for your resale #, EIN, business name, etc). And some places require you to make a $700 purchase upfront when signing up! :shock: Anyway, i really look forward to hearing what you all have to say...thanks in advance for your advice!

  2. #2
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    A friend of mine that is selling out the fabric section of her shop and is going to strictly longarming told me her wholesale cost has gone up to at least 4 bucks a yard.

  3. #3
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    Don't know where you live but you should contact Debbie Luttrell at Stichin Heaven in Quitman Texas. She actually does a workshop for quilt store owners. I think she is a great business woman. She opened the first retreat place in this area. If my calculations are right, she probably started earning a profit the first year on this venture.

  4. #4
    Honey's Avatar
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    Check out your local library for books on women starting businesses. There might be grants and special loans out there. Just make sure you research everything completly before you jump in. Owning your own business is hard work, but is very rewarding if done correctly.

  5. #5
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Why go in debt? Buy fabric, bolts and flat folds, from a fabric distributor warehouse on your credit card, not from a fabric rep. and sell it at a fair profit. If you can't sell that then you know you can't sell enough to keep a business going. Just a thought to what I would do before putting thousands into a shop.

  6. #6
    Super Member TexasGurl's Avatar
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    I'd also recommend selling online BEFORE you decide to go into a brick & mortar shop ...
    I used to co-manage a LQS and there is SO MUCH to deal with when you open a store front. Leasing, rent, insurance, utilities, advertising, store help, classes, teachers, etc ...

    I have several friends who've started online sales, are doing well and very HAPPY that they did NOT open store fronts as first planned. It's a good way to START and see if you like it ! :)

  7. #7
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilting_inthe_Rain
    Does anyone have an idea how much it costs to buy fabric wholesale?
    Remember the general rule in retailing, that the cost of an item is doubled to get the retail price. Then go do some research. Look at any LQS's in your area, to see what their prices are. DON'T USE THE CHAIN STORES as references for pricing. They buy in such huge quantities that they get special price deals that are out of reach for "the little guys". Also do research online. Look at the big established websites such as EQuilter, Virginia Quilter, Hancocks of Paducah. These sites carry new lines, which of course will be the highest priced. You will get a good idea of the actual cost by looking at their prices and dividing by 2.

    There is also the option of not carrying new lines, but rather discontinued / last season goods. You'll pay less for those. But you won't necessarily be able to put together wonderful coordinated groupings, because the fabrics will be "picked over" already before you even see them.

    One thing that's easily overlooked is that you do have to pay to get the wonderful fabrics delivered! Depending on how far they have to travel, plan on adding as much as 30 cents per yard to your cost.

    And... it's not all about the fabric, either. Do you like record-keeping? Are you disciplined and detail-oriented enough to keep up with that part of the job? You can't have a business without paperwork.

    Buying fabric and paying by credit card? A good idea, especially if you get a reward card (1% back is always nice) but to make this work best for you, pay in full and on time each month. Wholesale vendors will often extend terms, says 60 days, and if you're lucky you will have some of that fabric sold by the time the bill comes due.

    Other expenses you'll need to keep in mind are rent and insurance, and phone costs. Plus supplies (bags, signs). And equipment: shelves, tables, cash register, credit card terminal. If you take credit cards (and you definitely should) keep in mind that the banks will keep 2.5% - 3% of each sale. That's a significant bite out of your profits.

    I bet you can find some older threads on this forum that discuss this issue further. If you decide that you're serious about going into business, it would be a good idea to discuss it with an accountant, who can tell you what your tax liabilities would be.

  8. #8
    Member Quilting_inthe_Rain's Avatar
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    This is great advice - thank you! I was wondering if an online shop would be a better option for me, at least initially. It would be a challenge to make it stand apart from otehr websites though. I also wanted to offer machine quilting services, but that just adds more questions to my list (and more $$ :oops: ). If i did machine quilting services, i'd have to learn to use the thing and wouldn't know what to do if it jammed. I'm sure the manufacturer probably gives advice fort his type of thing.

  9. #9
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Just remember there are lots of hidden cost that come up. Actual profit has to be turned back into buying more inventory to sell. You will be lucky enough to make a somewhat decent salary. If you can't afford to hire someone, then you will be the worker. If you rent a building, where it is located will play a large part in how sucessful it will be. I can understand how most people go broke. They rent or buy a building, come in a fix it up to look like they are really big time spenders and maybe buy a business vehicle to drive around - payment comes out of profit they haven't even made yet. When lease is up or can't make payments they go broke and lose everything, if unincorporated they can even lose their home and other belongings and at times end up being sued. Most people also have to have their two days a week off. You will have to plan to be open when people want to buy or kiss your business goodbye. If you have young kids at home or a controling Husband that wants you to spend evenings with him and not willing to help you out when needed, kiss it goodbye, it won't work and you will have even less money and more debt than you started out with. Trust me on this one. School yourself very well before starting this and you will learn a lot. Learn all you can.

  10. #10
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I was an accountant/tax preparer... I seen many sucesses and failures. Good bookkeeping, being consistent with putting money aside for taxes, licensing, fees, etc... and being able to save for the lean times all were the main reasons some businesses survived or went under.
    Talking to an accountant the first time is usually free of charge. They can let you know what licenses you will need, what percentage of your sales will typically go to taxes and such, this is what we do day in and day out.
    Then check with local women's business groups, see what the local pitfalls are in your area (and bonus's)
    Too often people go into owning a small or large business without enough information and become easily overwhelmed. Few business start off being able to pay anyone a income, or liveable one.
    Like what was previously said, be prepared to work some 16 hour days without days off for atleast the first year or so...
    I wish you lots of luck on this venture!!! :D:D:D

  11. #11
    Honey's Avatar
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    If you do go with the internet store, please let me know how to find it.

  12. #12
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    Opening your own business takes a LOT more than just finding out the price of wholesale fabric and the profit you could make. For your profit margin you have ALL the business expenses to consider. Rent of the building, insurance, displays, power, phone, price of credit card acceptance... and so much more.
    I would love to open my own shop, husband would be behind me all the way on it. The first thing that got me was the price of wholesale fabrics. The reason quilt shops charge so much per yard is that they have to pay so much themselves.
    My husband and I have had our own business and I've managed/directed one or two. Self employment is a 24/7 job.
    Do LOTS of investigating before you take that big step.
    I haven't ruled out my own shop yet either. Would like to get into the longarm business too. Need to try one out first! LOL

    Best of luck in your pursuit.

  13. #13
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    I would check to see if you have a SCORE group near you. They are business people that provide training and mentoring for Small Business Owners and entrapreneurs. We have a great one in San Diego. They can help you with a business plan and working out the figures.

    Good luck.

  14. #14
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    You should be able to live for at least a year with no income from the shop. You should also have at least 3 month's worth of operating capitol in the bank.

  15. #15
    lanagan's Avatar
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    If you go to a good quilt shop and they are selling fabric at $10 a yard. Most likely they paid $5 a yard but remember with all the over head costs of a business, you actual profit might only be 1.50 to 2.50 a yard. You have to sell a lot of yards to make any money.

    Do you have competition in the area you live in? You are listed as in hiding so don't know where in the country you are.

    I would also check with your local quilt guilds and see where those ladies buy most of their materials. If they are a Walmart/Joanne's buyer, you'll never make it.

  16. #16
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    Lots of great advice here. I too have been thinking of opening a shop.

  17. #17
    Super Member SewExtremeSeams's Avatar
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    Dear Quilting in the Rain,
    You are very brave in my book. The advice listed here seems to be very sound advice. I wish you the best in researching and putting together a business in a field you love. Just be very careful and plan each step well-educated in the possible pitfalls that may or may not come your way. Linda

  18. #18
    SC
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    There is some great advice here. Cost of your fabric is only a small part of the overall picture. There is much more overhead to think about. And, yes, by all means check with your accountant. Having your own shop may seem like a lot of fun, but it is also a LOT of work!

  19. #19
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    Hi all! I don't want to open a shop, just an online shop. I collect antique and vintage postcards and create my own fabric out of that. I make sure of the copyright issue, and when in doubt, will hire a artist to repaint the picture "after the work of", and sidestep any legal problems. I like having the oil painting of the work in my house, and I like being able to have it printed for friends that want to use it in their quilt projects. Hopefully, sometime this Fall, I will get a website up to share what I do and encourage others that are interested in doing their own fabric to do so. I have found a couple of great fabric printers and use Fabric On Demand. Unbelievable customer service!!! And their product is quite good! So, I can print my design panels and make a profit. I would hate to be real big and do this. I guess this is just a way to share what you love with others. I don't know if there is a way to post pictures, or, if I did know how, I could post some of the vintage art pieces that people like. I hate to see this art be forgotten, so that is why I incorporated it into my quilting!

  20. #20
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    To answer your initial question - $4.00-$5.00 per yd depending on the brand. I was lucky recently to get some brand name that had been reduced for $2.50 per yd. Check out web site for New England Quilt Supply. They list the suggested retail price and wholesale cost would be 1/2 of what is listed. It sounds like you have a passion to do this but in my opinion now is not the time to go into the independent quilt shop busiess. However, the best thing would be to attend the fall Quilt Market in Houston. Check their requirements for attending and see if you can meet any and go.

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