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Melissa Halpain Posted: Sun, Sep 29 2013 10:10 PM

Hi Everyone -

I have just, and I mean just, started preparations for opening up a quilting shop in my little town. I'm in the process of writing a business plan. I would love any input and/or advise anyone can give me. My DSIL will be my business partner and that means he will do all the computer work. My own little IT department. Plus he can do any of the physical labor. Again, I would love any help you all can give me. Thank you in advance for any help, advice and input.

Georgetown CA I'd Rather Be Quilting

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Patti replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 10:42 PM

I think our local quilt shop brings in a lot of customers with her classes and blocks of the month.  And Sew-ins where folks bring in their projects.  Those are sometimes in the evening and a lot of fabric is sold during that time. 

She also frequently changes the fabrics in the window.  They are like magnets, bringing shoppers in.  I also often buy maybe a yard or two more than I had planned, to get the extra punch on my card towards some free fabric. 

Are there other quilt shops or fabric shops near where your store will be?  if so, study what they have and have a section that may offer something a little different.    The Buggy Barn in Readan, WA has become a shop known nationally for their homespun fabrics and patterns.

Patti

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Thank you so much for you input. There are no shops close or even in the same town. The closest is 25 miles away. It takes about a half hour to get there because it is a very narrow windy road. It's pretty treacherous also. I do plan on having a punch card for sales. I also plan on having a newsletter maybe once a week or once a month. I love your idea about something a little different. Thank you again, so much.

Georgetown CA I'd Rather Be Quilting

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ls2116 replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 11:02 PM

Congrats Melissa  Are you going to carry machines also Just a thought.

Quilting My Rainbow

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Melissa Halpain:
I would love any input and/or advise anyone can give me.

 

The three shops in my town all specialize in different fabrics. One has a large selection of CW reproduction, another has Janome machines for sale and a huge discounted fabric section and the other has lots of 30's. They all carry a nice variety but they don't seem to overlap their specialties.

They all offer classes and special events.

The most important thing for me in a quilt shop?  Friendly and helpful customer service. Taking time to answer my questions and being knowledgeable about fabrics and techniques. I can't get those things from Joann's. 


In the beautiful Pacific Northwest!

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Donna B replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 11:30 PM

Hi Melissa,

Like Patti (and apparently you), I live in a rural area with limited access to a quilt shop.  

Actually, the shop Patti mentioned is the 2nd closest to me...about 50 miles from my house.  The closest is only 15 miles, but I don't frequent it often.  In my experience, the owner has an unfortunate (for a business owner) habit of making customers feel unwelcome at her store (and not just me).  And I am sure you know how word travels in small towns!  I very rarely buy fabric from this store anymore and choose to buy from the store further away or online.

The things I like at this distant store are the variety of quilting classes at various times (I am over a mountain pass from that town, so night classes don't work for me - especially in winter); a fairly large assortment of QS quality fabrics (a great selection of batiks for a small town); a willingness to help you with projects even if you do not use the brand of machine they sell (Pfaff, while I have Berninas); machine embroidery classes; domestic machine quilting classes, a nice assortment of threads, stabilizers, tools, accessories, patterns, etc. The staff there is always courteous and knowledgeable.  Oh yes, and they will even help you with a project you are working on when the fabrics were not purchased from their store. They are wise enough to realize that if you frequent their store, you will ultimately buy their fabrics.  And, they are right!

A lot of this is just good customer service...but especially in a small town...good customer service is critical!  Good Luck and I wish you were near me!

 Winthrop, WA

 

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Patti replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 11:46 PM

Looks like a lot of forest and mountains around you.   wildlife and outdoor prints might be a good selection to include. 

Patti

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gini replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 11:53 PM

You don't want to be undercapitalized.  Changing fabrics often.   Making up samples, not just of quilts,  pot holders,  stuffies, pillowcases,  Simple kit projects., an easy pattern with the fabric needed.   Lots of fat quarters.  Lots of easy access parking.   Classes

gini in north idaho

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Agnes replied on Mon, Sep 30 2013 2:06 AM

From my retail experience---Best advertisement is good customer service which includes acknowledging your customers as soon as possible on their entry into the store. Also important is listening to your customer's wishes and special requests and following through if possible. Samples are a must as is changing them and your displays around regularly. Keeping your prices competitive. You suggested perhaps weekly newsletters. Start with a good monthly newsletter and don't spread yourself too thinly to start with. Also if you have been an employee be prepared to double your hours because you will be responsible for all facets if you want to be successful.. Some of these things become after hours work hence the longer hours. Remember that most small business owners are buying themselves a paycheck, particularly in the first few years. With writing your business plan project costs high and sales low. Have you access to someone who is in business who could guide you in making sure you cover all expense categories? Make sure your population and interest is there to sustain this niche business. But probably the most important as Gini stated is to not be under capitalized.

Agnes in NW Ontario

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Nana replied on Mon, Sep 30 2013 4:51 AM

Melissa

I have found that quilt shops with quilts on display and then having kits made up to make the quilt draw me.   I like kits for those quick quilts.   We do have  a quilt shop in our area that specializes in reproduction fabrics....especially civil war fabrics.   I also like for shops to have a good selection of notions.   Hand sewing needles as well as sewing machine needles, scissors, rotary cutters, mats, rulers etc.   It is also nice to have classes available.  I love the punch cards and end of season sales. I wish that our shops had a better selection of quilter's flannels.

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Julienne replied on Mon, Sep 30 2013 6:04 AM

Melissa Halpain:

Hi Everyone -

I have just, and I mean just, started preparations for opening up a quilting shop in my little town. I'm in the process of writing a business plan. I would love any input and/or advise anyone can give me. My DSIL will be my business partner and that means he will do all the computer work. My own little IT department. Plus he can do any of the physical labor. Again, I would love any help you all can give me. Thank you in advance for any help, advice and input.

Melissa, PM me and I can help you out. I (my fiance and I) opened up a quilt shop 3 years ago. I am sure tho you already have alot of help from everyone here. Thanks

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MNnancy replied on Mon, Sep 30 2013 7:25 AM

Blenders!  Carry lots of brands of blender fabrics.  That seems to be one of the things I run to the quilt shop most often for.  And then develop your specialty.  Is there a nearby guild you can survey?  It doesn't seem to work to try to have a little bit of everything.  One of the small shops near me has about a dozen batiks.  Well, why bother?  I agree with the others - classes and group sewing times are a draw!  Beginning quilting classes are a must for growing new customers.  Classes built around the hottest new tools is a good idea.  Purses, home decor, children's clothing, and sweatshirt makeover classes have been popular here.  BOMs will keep people coming frequently.  Even discussion based classes can work - one shop here has a long-armers "club."  She doesn't sell machines or even have one in the shop for demos, but the gals enjoy show-&-tell, and they use lapsize whiteboards to practice drawing filler designs.  In this case, the owner does not lead the class.  She invited others to build the program.

Consider having a Facebook page and post pictures frequently of new fabric lines coming in, new samples, class announcements, and general discussion and feedback.

Have fun!


On the banks of the Mississippi River in north central Minnesota (Brainerd lakes area)

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Ginny replied on Mon, Sep 30 2013 7:48 AM

Boy, Judy, how lucky are you to have not only 1, but 3 quilt shops in your town. The closest one to me is about 15 miles away and then there are several others at least that far or farther away, and being in a metropolitan area, the length of time it takes to get from one to another doesn't make it codusive to going but to one at a time.   Ginny

 

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Karla replied on Mon, Sep 30 2013 9:26 AM

I love having a local LQS, it is fairly new and small but getting a bigger and better supply of everything each month.  My LQS has a large supply of batiks and blenders which is what I am after most often.  They have a small selection of CW and patriotic fabrics, a decent supply of reproduction and outdoorsy fabric,  They have precuts and fat quarters.  They offer classes, have a monthly newsletter and a facebook page.  They have open sewing one day a week and one day a week they have video classes from Eleanor Burns.  They make up their own kits and have many displays of purses/bags, aprons and, of course, quilts.  They have many many patterns and notions...I do wish they had a larger selection of thread though.  They also have a commercial embroidery machine and do customer embroidery, as well as a long arm.  I buy my batting there as they cut it to size for me, and they give me a 10% discount because I shop frequently with them.

They may not have everything I need, but they are very personable, customer friendly and have just become good friends of mine.  

 

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Ginny:
Boy, Judy, how lucky are you to have not only 1, but 3 quilt shops in your town

 

Yes, and besides the 3 here in town within minutes of me and each other, there are three more in the county only about 15 miles away. Another one about 25 miles away and........ 

Hey, if anyone wants to move someplace with a fantastic selection of quilt shops yet is still a smallish town, come on out to the NW corner of Washington State. But you have to enjoy rain! LOL


In the beautiful Pacific Northwest!

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