Everybody loves a bargain. Scoring something on sale is a modern day hunter/gatherer coup of the first order, a proof positive that you are conducting your life with thrifty adult aplomb.
But the push for sale prices is eroding the quilting (and other) industries.
Many chain stores have resorted to constant discounting as a way to keep the sales moving, and what this has done is teach their buyers that the listed price of a thing is a number that only fools without coupons pay. And that even if you’re lacking the coupon or mobile store app, everything will be on sale at some point during the next six weeks if you’re willing to be patient.
This just isn’t sustainable. Putting things on sale is a great way to get some fast income, but it’s always followed by a slow period because your customers already spent their money. Once a store puts everything on sale all the time, it’s close to impossible to go back, and it dooms them to cutting back in other ways to make up the lost income.
The long standing formula for a retail price was one built to pay everyone decently at every tier. If I give you an example using one of my $10 patterns sold through a distributor to a store, the cut goes like this: I get $3.50 (out of which come my material costs), the distributor gets $1.50, and the store gets $5. The store gets the lion’s share because they bear the biggest cost of keeping the lights on and paying talented people to help you, and the highest cost per square foot of their retail space.
Let’s apply this to a chain store like Joann’s. If they are making it possible for you to buy that $10 pattern for $6 with a coupon, they are losing $4 on that sale. How that has manifested at Joann’s is that the stores have devolved to being (under)staffed by mostly part-time people (who get no benefits), who don’t know a voile from a velour, and who are mistreated by the company in ways that not a one of us would voluntarily subject ourselves to if other options were available.
And do we really want to be a part of making that happen?
This perpetual discount model has educated us to believe that a $32 rotary cutter is really a $19 product with the coupon. But if the true price (from one end of the manufacturing process to the store) is $32, then that’s what we should be paying.
The next problem with this is we take the “I want everything on sale” attitude to our local quilt stores. I’ll let you in on a secret… no one wakes up imagining that that the fast way to get rich is to own a quilt store. They work hard for the money. And for the most part, they are staffed with the kind of people that can calculate how much border fabric you need without missing a beat. Good quilt store employees are SKILLED workers, and so they deserve better than minimum wage. And if the store is doing it right, they are getting the latest and greatest for you, and making samples of it to inspire you (even my speediest quilts take me a couple of days each to finish). There is a LOT of love in the labor.
Trust me – I know that quilting is expensive. But I also know that it is, as my dear friend Maddie Kertay at BadAss Quilters’ Society once said to me, a luxury sport. If you want to play it, there is a certain investment in the equipment that goes with the game. You are not going to die if you don’t quilt. While it might be emotionally necessary to your well-being, it isn’t critical like food, or heating, or gas for your car.
No one OWES you the right to quilt, nor to have the materials and tools for cheap. If you want to quilt cheaply, you absolutely can. You can acquire the fabrics at thrift stores and opt for doing it all by hand, dispensing with the need for a machine – or scour the same thrift stores for a lucky machine find. If your income is fixed (and seriously, whose isn’t?) you definitely have decisions to make regarding where you spend your pennies. But just because you want it cheaper doesn’t mean you get to have it cheaper – if that logic were true I’d be demanding my rightful Porsche, and my McMansion with singing woodland creatures to keep it clean for me!
If we, as consumers, don’t start supporting the small businesses, they will disappear (just look at dearth of bookstores). There will be no local quilt shop with the carefully curated fabric selection, nor the sweet woman who works on Wednesdays and knows how to find the exact blue you need. All there will be is a sea of chain stores with limited selection and harried staff who can’t help you beyond pointing down the aisle.
Yes, I know, buying a new rotary blade full price might cost you the equivalent of two frothy coffees instead of one (or three fat quarters instead of two), but consider it an investment in having the best quilting community possible. You want to be a part of that, right? Yes! Because otherwise, we’ll be condemning ourselves to nothing more than chain stores.
At some point each of us needs to step up to invest in the health of our industry. Consider it the quilting version of eating your spinach or whipping up a green smoothie.
It’s in our hands. Let’s go do something about it.
For other reads on this:
- Megan Dougherty’s peek behind the green curtain at Joann’s (read the comments, too)
- Maddie Kertay’s Quilt Shop Confidential series 1, 2 and 3
- Ebony Love’s discussions (1 and 2) on pricing her online class offerings.
WOW, Sam – you’ve said this all so eloquently! Thank you. Thank you! THANK YOU! But how do we in the industry get buyers to understand this when our culture has become one in which the “art” of “the deal” trumps everything else? I belong to several Facebook quilting groups and in every single group, at least once a week, someone will innocently ask how much they should charge a potential customer to make a quilt. I always send them the link to your “We Are Sew Worth It” page. And I’m always blasted by those who insist that *they* “can make a customer quilt for $75!!!” Then I get blasted along with the $75-quilt-person by someone who “can make it for $50!!!”. It becomes a challenge to see who can charge the least. You are doing your part to change this mentality. I’m open to all suggestions on how we can ALL work to change this mentality – even while acknowledging that yes, quilting is a luxury sport. But as far as I’m concerned, we’re WORTH IT. 🙂
Thank you Peggy! I appreciate your waving the WASWI flag!
I partially agree with what you’ve said Sam, but not all of it. Yes the quilt shops have to survive and they depend on us. What I don’t agree with is that we should pay full price when the manufacturers continue to make large profits. When the cotton crop was devastated about 10 years ago, prices understandably went up. When cotton recovered did those manufacturers lower their prices? NO. They’re (the quilting public) paying it so let’s leave it alone and watch our bottom line climb. Prices rise steadily every year because the quilting industry (us) is so dang profitable for the manufacturers. Do they worry about the part time sales staff at Joann’s not receiving any benefits? Hell no, they only worry about their bottom line and where they can have their product produced as cheaply as possible without passing on any savings whatsoever to their customers and their customers and on down the line until said product lands on a shelf in my sewing room. And now, up here in Canada we’re paying in the cozy neighbourhood of $20 for a metre of fabric. That’s only an extra three inches over the $12 yards in the US. If this keeps up the quilting industry is going to crash just like everything else that got insanely overpriced in the past ten years and those manufacturers will simply look for another cash cow to sell us. I for one work hard for my income as a longarm quilter and you bet I look for the sales, it’s the only way I can continue to be a quilter.
This is so true Judy… but in all these equations, we’re not “sticking it to the man” by buying stuff at a discount. The manufacturer is at the top of the food chain, and as long as they have distributors and retailers to sell to, they don’t really care if we pay $15 retail or $10 retail, because they already got their money.
As an online fabric seller myself, I can really only afford to discount if I can also buy it wholesale at a discount. If I can buy fabric at $3/yard instead of at $7, then I can pass along the discount to my customers. Problem is, you can’t get brand-new fabric for $3/yard. Not good stuff, anyway. 🙂
Not to mention… JoAnn’s is big enough where they qualify for distributor pricing, not wholesale pricing, so they get more room to discount than your local quilt shop. That hurts too.
The industry is headed for a crash… I just hope it doesn’t take out all the indie businesses on the way down. It’s such a tough conundrum… I don’t know what the solve is. All I know is, it’s way out of balance and something has to give.
I’m not sure what we can do to “stick it to the man” short of not buying any products at all. Which will kill off the retailers pretty fast too.
I hate to say it but the manufacturers are not making huge profits. They are struggling just as we shops are. Even though the price of cotton dropped to some extent, the cost of shipping has risen very quickly and all fabric gets shipped quite a few times front he actually cotton manufacturers to the places where it is printed and then where it is bolted and then to the fabric companies to shop to us. Do you know that each time it is shipped the cost is about $.50-$1 per each years of fabric? That adds to the cost incredibly. I feel certain the shipping costs and the governmental fees involved in the fabric being brought into Canada has more to do with the higher prices there than the manufacturers. They don’t charge a different price to shops in other countries. There is so much more to it than retail customers can possibly imagine. We really will be lucky if the industry can survive at all and the discounting will definitely not help.
So maybe they need to drop some of the shipping. If they would set up shop back where things are shipped to, that issue would resolve partly. As well as import costs. I would gladly pay more for stuff produced in my national economy, since it will also benefit me in the long run.
I was reading an article that was partly explaining why so many sales are going overseas (via online shopping) and it came down to this: overseas companies have cheap shipping to the US, and shipping within the US is expensive to make up for it. Thus, the mail system, thank you US government, is part of the equation of lower sales from US producers and sellers.
The cost of shipping seems to be were cost is made up! I ship often and I never pay what businesses charge me for thing!
The producer also has expenses… Seed, fertilizer, gas for their machines, machine repairs and what about replacing those machines. That can all get very pricey. I don’t enjoy seeing prices go up. However, I do understand there is increasing prices in producing product too.
Thank you for putting this so eloquently! I often tell people we shot ourselves in the foot when we decided it was OK to buy items made by under paid workers in China rather than buy quality made items. Few people understand the things you put forth. The reason JoAnn’s carries crappy fabric is because we LET THEM! We soak up that ‘deal’.
Buy Quality, Get Quality.
Thank you Sam for another great post.
thank you Karen!
Another great post – my favorite part was the “sweet lady that works on Wednesdays” – that’s me! I love helping our customers with fabric choices, figuring out patterns, and just encouraging them to try new techniques. As much as I love a good deal, it’s so important to support our local quilt shops and make sure that those shops are still there when you need some hands on help. That’s a good investment!
Me too. I work because I want to, not because I “have” to. I can spend an hour with one customer and am happy only when they are happy. I actually work only on Wednesday!
I’m so glad you are the Sweet Wednesday Lady! We need more of you (and on other days of the week too!)
Yes! I’m the Wednesday lady too (but mostly on Mondays and Thursdays). It is my, and my co-workers’, pleasure to work with our customers and help them have the best possible quilting experience. We can’t offer inspirational samples, depth of knowledge about quilting and our inventory, classes, and a communal place to sew, on discount prices.
I don’t have a problem paying quilt store prices- except there aren’t any quilt stores by me anymore (well, there is one, but they’re not nice people so I refuse to spend my money there). My LQS closed a few years ago and I’m still in mourning. I have to drive an hour for a decent quilt shop, and when I do, I don’t complain about the prices. But, I will go to Joanns or Hobby Lobby to get a rotary cutter because I can, and it’s closer. I buy fabric online occasionally, but since colors aren’t true on a screen, it’s always a toss-up. I miss my ladies that I could go to for help, and getting fabric on sale is not a consolation. However, Hobby Lobby is only 20 minutes away, so if I need something, it’s handy. A lot of us are caught in the middle here— we enjoy our hobby, and, like addicts, we’ll get our fix any way we can!
It’s too bad Hobby Lobby is even considered a choice for quilters. I object strongly to their “religiously” based decision not to cover basic health care for women. OTOH, I know that is not the topic of your post.
Here is the thing: virtually ALL of our fabric is made overseas, with little to no safety constraints. The fabric manufacturers (companies) are NOT the ones suffering regardless of who sells us the yardage. I don’t usually buy fabric at JoAnns not for some moral/ethical reason (though that is why I don’t shop at HL.) I don’t usually buy fabric at JoAnns because when the fabric is not discounted it is MORE expensive than my LQS. And when it is discounted, it is often crappy fabric anyway.
However yes I do buy some of my notions there. How much? Not much, because I am frugal. However when I need a new mat (which I do,) I will likely buy it at JoAnns, with a good discount and/or coupon. I am not insane. I buy what I need, at the best price I can find. Fabrics? Almost all my yards of that I buy at LQS. Good fabric, decent (fair) price.
But I do not fool myself that that makes me a better person than the person who buys fabric ANYWHERE else. We all have to make choices based on our values and the bucks we have available.
Should I buy ANY fabric, anywhere? Do I need to start asking myself values questions about how fabric workers are treated, what the safety standards are for batik workers? Seriously? Let me reassure you I do wonder about that, and the moral implications of my choice of art. And I decide (for now) that the good I put into the world with my quilts is enough to offset the bad of the fabric manufacturing process.
Rant over. Thanks for the post.
I’m with you on Hobby Lobby!
I do shop at my LQS, but I also buy online, not because of the price, but because I have a much better chance of finding exactly what I need.
It’s a moot point now; I have enough fabric, patterns and books to last 3 lifetimes. I’m making a concerted effort to shop only my stash. That leaves only zippers and a few other notions to buy as I need them. Rotary cutter blades come from Joanns either on sale or with a coupon.
Given I live on the other side of the pond this still relates, I think to any country you reside in. But to be honest the answer is pretty simple, Ive just sat and read through the 200 plus posts about the discussed store, its very obvious staff arent happy, nor are the customers, so why unearth can people find the time to sit and post their frustration and annoyance in the comments section when the exact same thing could be done in an email and sent to head office, I am sure once their inbox begins filling with complaints it would be clear change was required. Now to why people flock to a business they clearly admit offers poor service and lack of knowledge that most consumers feel is a requirement, and they will have possibly driven past a small quilting store, why did they not stop there and shop?, perhaps its time for quilt stores to think outside the box, become creative with bringing people in through your door, if you dont like it, do something to change it, I can think of several things that could be tackled and may help with customer traffic.
A good example would be a quilt guild which we read about in blog posts frequently, lets say 50 members attend, and down the road is a great quilt shop, top notch service, great selection and good prices, if each guild member marched down and purchased one item even if that was once a month, a change would begin.
Its the small things that end up making the big difference….
In my experience as a quilt shop worker, guilds are absolutely the worst about not supporting local quilt shops.
” perhaps its time for quilt stores to think outside the box, become creative with bringing people in through your door, if you dont like it, do something to change it”
As a quilt shop owner, I can tell you that I spend every waking moment (and sometimes sleeping moments) trying to think outside-the-box on how I can get more customers in the door! I wryly call myself a “quiltertainer” because I constantly work on creating programs, classes and events to bring people in. We are always looking for something new and unique to entice customers. When we become too exhausted or have run out of ideas or don’t have time to do something wonderous… we have a sale:(
I have 12 people on my team and every one of them is invested in what they do in the shop. I delegate and give them autonomy to make decisions, create programs and collaborate on projects. Still, we stress about net sales, purchasing decisions and, bottom line- how to get more people to shop with us.
I will corroborate what Laura has said- The quilt guilds are the worst! Not just in my area, but I hear it from LQS owners all over the country. They show up when they need donations for their silent auction or annual meeting or monthly giveaways. But rarely do I see members come into the shop… not to take a class or spend money or even attend free sewing days! They want me to donate merchandise to them and then require me to pay to advertise in their newsletter. They ask me to come and be a part of their speaker series only to get information on how they can obtain the same resources that I have.
With that being said, I love what I do! I provide education for those that want to learn a new skill or enhance what they have already learned. I provide a safe place for people to be creative. I provide to left-brained quilters the team-members that can help them put together fabrics for a pattern. And to the right-brained quilters, I have team-members that can help calculate yardage for a border, backing or binding. I provide a place where people can socialize with others that have similar interests and a place where quilters can make items for their special charities.
My shop will always have quality people and quality products. We will keep on keepin on despite the big chain stores, the discounters and the internet. And we will always care about our customers and revel in their accomplishments!
Tiffany, it sounds like you are doing it right. I bet your store is a treat! I’ve been in a lot of stores that don’t seem to care about their customers, and I just don’t get it. Why be in a customer facing business, and then not face them!?!?!
Why does everyone always go on a rant about JoAnns? It’s a great store that fills the needs of alot of crafters of different types of craft. You would all cry if they went out of business. They carry Kona, just like your LQS. They carry alot of other fabrics you won’t find at your LQS. Some of it is good quality and some of it is not. That’s where your experience as a quilter will come in.
Don’t be on a high horse about “how they treat their employees”. I’m sure you shop other retail establishments and trust me, they are no different. I manage a convenience store. The company I work for doesn’t allow breaks. Nine plus hour shifts, no breaks. Do the people that come in care? No.
And don’t put people down for trying to be frugal if they have the quilting bug. I’m sure they would love to buy some fabric from their LQS, if they have one, but can’t afford to. Don’t make them feel bad for it. People used to use old clothes and flour sacks for their quilting because that’s what they had. Stores like JoAnnes keep the quilting bug alive. They become interested and then, like me, go and seek out quilt stores for more. I’d say without a store like JoAnnes, the quilt shops would have much less business.
Hi Jenny – I’m not ranting about Joanns. I’m using them as an example of what discount pricing does to decimate an industry, and in the land of fabric, their business model is the main offender. I’m not rooting for their demise – I WANT them to be around because I want the diversity in our shopping experience – just not in this model because it hurst us ALL. And if you read the comments on Megan’s blog, there are a LOT of employees who wrote in about how hard it is to work there. I just don’t understand any business that doesn’t treat their people well.
I agree wholeheartedly with almost everything you said, having been in the ‘fabric’ business for more than 30 yrs, however, I disagree that by not buying ‘on sale’, it allows the retailer to hire skilled labor…..bunk! I am sick and tired of going into shops that the staff (and most often the owner) have no idea how to help you calculate fabric amounts, have knowledge of product(s), or even point you toward another shop if they don’t carry a certain item and don’t intend to. Not only that, but there are many, many shops out there these days that are just unfriendly! Most don’t even acknowledge that you are in the store and when they do, they follow you around like you are going to put merchandise in your pocket.
I have gotten to the point where I make a field trip out of the search for quilting fabrics, etc. with my students so that they have someone with them that can actually help them!
Keep up the good fight!
I’m not sure why you would be angry with a shop that doesn’t carry a specific item referring you to a shop that does. No store can carry everything for everyone. We don’t stock novelty fabrics in our store, but a shop just 20 minutes away has a large stock of them, so anytime someone is looking for novelty fabric, we send them to the other shop knowing they will have a wide choice, and that it is likely they will be able to get their fabric the same day instead of having to wait weeks for a special order to come in.
I’m sorry you have such unpleasant quilt shops in your area. I haven’t been to a single shop in all of North Texas that is anything like what you described above.
I love it when a store will refer! I used to work in one in SoCal, and the owners were not happy if we referred to other stores that could solve the problem. Insane!
I don’t get why stores are mean to their clients!
We have a wonderful LQS in my town, only one LQS. She opened last year, and I nelieve she is doing great. She keeps a good supply of items and fabrics needed, and is slowly adding to her inventory. I live in an area that sewing/quilting/needlearts of any kind are dying. Our local Joanns is moving to a store site a few doors down with less than half the square footage they had previously. I also, only use Joanns sparingly because I prefer our LQS. I am waiting to see where Joanns makes their cuts in inventory. If it is in fabric amd notions, as I suspect, here, then I will have to drive at least 50+ miles to the nearest chain fabric store to obtain some supplies I get for sewing clothes. I already do use the internet for some of the heirloom sewing I do, as no one carries any of these specialty items here. So, this is probably a no win situation for my location, except for the bright and cheery LQS I have nearby, that I love, and will happily support.
I understand your motives are pure in posting this but your appeals are insufficient. Small business needs to evolve or die. If people want cheap fabric and use coupons to get a bargain, let them go to the chain store. Small quilt shops need to do a better job distinguishing themselves to offer unique fabrics, kits, services etc. The idea that we should all just buck up and pay more for the same item out of moral duty is ridiculous.
Thank you for your opinion 🙂 But mine is different 🙂 Yes, small stores can and should do better. But I happen to think that some moral code about buying from a store that you want to survive is a nice investment in your own well-being, as well as theirs. I don’t want to live in a world that is only Amazon and Walmart.
I believe in going to the local guilt shops I like the intimacy you get there they treat you like they care about the project your working on. I am a beginner and went to a small quilt shop and they showed me the things I needed for a beginner even recommended the book to get for beginner and also told me the things I didn’t need so I will go back
Sam rocks! I don’t know you but I sure wish people would get it. “Small business needs to evolve or die”….omg, I know so many small businesses that have evolved and it’s never good enough. I would seriously love to know, beyond the obvious things….from Kristina what should they do to “evolve?”
“The idea that we should all just buck up and pay more for the same item out of moral duty is ridiculous.”
If you are talking only xyz product at $B price, then by simple utility, buy it where it’s cheaper. If you take into account that the Jo-Ann Fabric provided you no personal input or help to make that choice, then you are paying for just the product. I know when I walk into my LQS with just a general idea of what I want, and that local owner helps me make choices as I lay fabric bolts on the counter. As I say a lighter blue would work better, she’s grabbing bolts off the shelf that would fit my needs better, saving me time and frustration. I always walk out of her shop confident in the end selection. She has excellent judgement in color and always affirms when I’m on the right track for what will look good together. I am not only paying for fabric, I am paying for her eye in color and knowledge about the yardage I will need. She, as a store owner, is WORTH PAYING FOR. I’m buying her, as well as the fabric.
I happen to be lucky enough to have 2 LQS in my town (one is for sale). And a JoAnn’s. I never buy fabric for quilts at JoAnn’s, but occasionally buy some notions & fabric for other things, such as curtain liner. I use strictly Aurifil thread so that is bought at local LQS. I don’t approve of large chain stores trying to fill a local quilt shop’s needs. As an example of why not: we used to have a B Dalton’s bookstore in our local mall, a local indie bookstore and an exceptional used book store. Then Barnes & Noble came to town just long enough to put everyone else (except used book store) out of business. Barnes & Noble shut down and left and that was the end of our bookstores. It made me so angry that I will never shop at Barnes & Noble ever again (whether online or in another town). I do try to support my local quilt shop whenever possible, but I’ve got to face the fact that the last thing I need is MORE fabric. If I do see something advertised that I just can’t live without, I will try them first before resorting to online. And my long arm quilter works there, so I tend to buy some little thing whenever I take a quilt in for her to work on. No easy answer to any of the problems brought up in this article, but necessary info.
You are SO right about no easy answer!
It is not fair to say that the employees of stores like Joann do not know their fabrics. I am a quilter. I worked part time for Joann Fabrics at one point. I was a professional teacher prior to this. I needed time off to help care for a terminal parent. They hired me and understood that my parent was dying. They were great about having to drop everything at a moments notice and race to the hospital on more than one occasion. I knew my fabrics as well as many other co workers. There are many excellent people working in big box stores who know their hobbies and what it takes to complete them.
Yes, thanks for making that point. I’ve often overheard JoAnns employees give great help to customers. Quilting may not be their thing, but they don’t work in a quilt shop. It is fabrics and other craft supplies. Need to recover some dining room chairs? Bet someone there can help you figure out your yardage for that. OTOH, if you want help on quilts, you are more likely to be able to get it at a quilt shop.
Jill, they were lucky to have you! And I was generalizing… there are always exceptions to a general statement 🙂
The ladies at my Joann’s are always helpful and are knowledgeable.
Also, golf is a luxury sport. Quilting is a hobby. It’s something done with the heart and the hands. It does not have to be expensive it is meant to be fulfilling. Years ago it was a necessity. It has since become a pastime. I learned from a master quilter. She didn’t go to fancy stores, they didn’t exist. She didn’t have a$10,000 quilting machine. They didn’t exist. She didn’t have a fancy quilting frame. She had 4, 2x4s, 4 c clamps and 4 saw horses. Her quilts sold for $500 and more in the 70’s. They were not super fancy, double wedding ring, maple leaf, old style patterns. They were each hand quilted with complex designs she came up with on her own. So no, it is not a luxury sport, it’s not a competition. If it was my dear girl you would not be in the same class as my Great-aunt. She was a lady, and was in a class of her own.
Hi Pamela – I need to let you in on a secret you might not know about… bless your heart! Quilting is a multi-BILLION dollar industry, with many people like me making a LIVING from it. It’s not just a hobby for the people that create the products you buy. And it sure sounds like your great aunt was quilting to make/supplement a living. Lucky you to have a family member to learn from!
Great article. We also have a lot of hobbiests, Facebook or Instagram shops, that want to buy fabric wholesale, so buy extra and sell at very low prices that the shops cannot compete with.
I think this article wasn’t for me, I feel like it shames ppl for not have disposable income that can me spent on the best of the best. Telling me that this is a luxury sport that I don’t have to play make me frown face. I like discounts because this is a hobby I make no money from it but love to quilt and sew. I teach tenagers at a local family shelter I supply all the fabric sewing machines and notions.
Those teenagers are so very lucky to have you, Joi – I bet you are changing lives!
As I totally agree with this. I am a scrapbooker and card maker. I support my local Scrapbooking store as much as I can. With that said, I am forced to shop elsewhere since the store declines to order a product for me, This brings me to on line shopping to find the product and the best price. I then make the best of free shipping and no tax and order other products. So Small local shops need to order for the customer. BTW, I ordered the line of product 4 times, bought it discounted, free shipping, no tax with a total cost of 475.00. I am willing to pay the price for the convenience of not waiting for shipping. I understand some small businesses cannot outlay the money, I’m willing to leave a deposit. Local stores need to be more accommodating so that we don’t go to the big box stores and on line shopping
I so agree. I don’t walk into a quilt store and expect them to give me a discount. Folks are so used to using coupons everywhere else that they feel they are owed the discount. ( I have worked retail for 10 years and this is what you get from the shoppers) Do I look for a sale? Of course, you just never know what you will find. Unfortunately for me I never find anything and most likely buy something else.
Too many small stores go out of business because they are overlooked and their prices might be a bit higher. It is just a shame.
Great post, Sam. It would be positive step if everyone got over the lack mentality that leads to discounting. And, it’s not just Jo-Ann’s, though it’s the obvious one in our industry; and yes, for some people it is their only choice. As you point out, look at the independent books stores that closed — not just the small stores but even big chains like Borders. Sure, we can all appreciate a sale. A better approach that I suggest to clients is adding value to the sale or better expressing the value that the independent shop offers. And, all of us need to support small businesses of whatever kind in our areas.
Thank you Morna!
Great post! I’m not part of the quilting community, but have dedicated my life to thriving local economies. While the same seems to be true for your industry as so many we study, this is exactly what we need. Folks putting the message in their own terms, comparing their numbers with their own corporate competitors, and talking about the impact to their special community. Thank you!
I am very picky whose pocket I put my money into. I want value for the cost. If the value is there for me, I buy it. I don’t look for a better deal, time has more value then money to me.
As a local quilt shop owner, I really appreciate this article. I too have worked very hard to create events, classes and other ideas in play in my shop to get customers in my door. It is a difficult business but I am so blessed to be able to do what I love for a living! As someone else stated, I will keep on keeping on! Thanks to all who support their local shop. To those of you that think their local shop should order special items for them. I do order things for customers depending on several things: how many do I have to order to get you 1, did you pay for the item when ordered so that I know you really want it and won’t get it somewhere before it comes in, can I even get it from the distributors that I work with or do I need to get it from someone special. There are often minimums that I have to meet either monetary or quantity if I order from a vendor. Thanks again for the original post and all of the comments!
Thanks Sue, I understand your comment. Recently I went to a LQS to purchase batting, they are a small shop and didn’t have what I needed. I paid for what I wanted and was told they would order it. Several days later I got a call stating they had previously sent in an order and my item would be an extra order with exorbitant shipping, they very kindly offered to refund my payment. I found an online source for what I needed and then used the refund to purchase another item at the LQS. I do a mixture of shopping, LQS’s, big box stores and online shops, I have budget restrictions like everyone else and must find the best price for the value. My favorite LQS moved out of state last year, but I shop at the others in my area, I too love the personal attention a small shop can give and am sad when one of them closes.
I love my LQS and am a “frequent shopper” there! The gals know me by name and a couple of them have joined me in my charity work – making quilts for our local NICU! Thanks for this great article, Sam!! God bless your efforts to educate the quilting public on why we are SEW worth it!! PS I share from my (high quality LQS fabric) stash with a number of quilting friends who are on fixed incomes. I can afford it – they can’t… so I share! It makes me happy!
While I can completely understand the local quilting store issues Sam describes, I come at it from the local scrapbooking / paper crafting store perspective. We reward loyalty with 10% savings for everything that is full price. You have to accumulate the points to earn the reward, but the savings are there. We had a customer lose all of their scrapbooking supplies in a house fire. While we couldn’t replace their pictures, or all of their hard work, we could run a report out of our Point of Sale system to provide them with a list of everything they purchased from us for their insurance company. Try getting that kind of service from a larger chain store.
I work at a big box fabric and crafts store. (I can’t mention the name but it rhymes with Momann’s.) Yes, our stores are understaffed and many if not most of the employees do not sew at all. You have to make up those coupon savings somewhere. Our payroll hours are allotted by actual sales, not by actual price. Shrink (stolen, lost, damaged goods) is about 2% per year per store. And the average Momann loses $6000 per year per each inch of “grace.”
I receive zero benefits as a part time employee. Breaks are doled out on the floor manager’s whim. I am the most knowledgeable employee at our store, and I am forbidden to calculate yardage for customers–not because it takes time, but because it makes the store liable if there is not enough. (I do it anyway.) We have trained our shoppers well–if it’s not on sale or couponable, they do not buy. Which means lower sales. Which means even fewer payroll hours. Please, take a minute to email the company. Ask for more staff, more training, and a sustainable pricing policy. If you don’t want to email, post on their FB page. And for a few giggles, check out my archives at talesfromthecuttingcounter.blogspot.com.
OMG – your stories! 🙂
Thanks for reading. I need to post some more…I have been negligent!
Since I started sewing a long time ago at the age of 11 I realized the. As a kid that my time was valuable and if I was going to put time and energy into sewing I wanted and deserve to use the best possible fabrics I could find. I dont. See any point making domething I. A cheap fabric like sold in the big box stores. I can buy a cheap blanket or t shirt the world is full to the brim with cheap inexpensive junk that is made I. Sweat shops were people are paid slave wages in third world countries chained to their work space for a dollar a day. I won’t feed into that or support companies that make their profits on the backs of the poor. Plus the quality is terrible.
I don’t care if it’s on sale. I want to use the most extraordinary fabrics a notions I can find.
I enjoy the Comrade array of my local store. Where they know that I’ve become a grandmother or that my father passed away, or I finished a terrific quilt, or blouse whatever… and I can share it with them and they actually care and get excited . you can’t put a price tag on that. You certainly won’t find that in a Joanns or Walmart.
There are no more sewing shops were you can get quality garment fabrics, if you don’t have access to NYCity the. You are stuck with a few good on line store. You can see and feel the fabric before you buy it. That is half the fun, the hunt for the perfect fabris!
This post is so awesome I don’t even know where to begin! As a full service quilt shop ourselves, suddenly overnight people started to want their cake and eat it too….everywhere. You can have the best service including providing knowledge, continually bring in new fabrics, offer exciting classes and designer workshops, and just generally go above and beyond….yet someone somewhere will make a comment about an “owner” not being nice because they didn’t get what they wanted. We take the time to get to know our customers, but I can attest that there are some who will walk in and completely ignore you. If you don’t communicate with eachother a shop owner is never going to know what your wants and desires are. This is why we strongly suggest to start getting more social with your LQS. Quilt shops can’t read your mind. I’ve always been an actions speak louder than words type of person. I can’t tell you the number of people that will complain about a store not having primitive fabric, or modern fabric, or brights, etc.Yet, when the store actually listens and makes a change to accommodate more of that interest, the fabric just sits there, or you’ll get “I only make it here once a year.” Well then my question is, how do you expect that store to continue what you love if you’re shopping on-line? Your dollars are not helping that store grow…that’s for sure! I hear over and over again how “my favorite quilt shop closed” and in the very same sentence they talk about how they shop on-line. On-line only businesses are not investing in a space to inspire you. They are not investing in several staff members to help you and provide you with knowledge. In fact, with many on-line only merchants, you’re lucky if you even get a phone call. Brick and mortars will always invite you in, ask you questions, and try to get to know you. Many of the on-line only stores are running out of their basements, garages, home…they don’t have to worry about lease payments, payroll (and the taxes on that payroll), electric bills, etc. The choice is ultimately yours, but if one day you wake up and there is no more cute shops in your favorite little town, don’t be surprised. We did it to ourselves and future generations. It used to be if you wanted something you had to work to save up and make the purchase. It really is sad how work ethic or perhaps spending beyond our means has reached a new low point in the country today.
thank you Brian!