I have been planning my 2010 quilt show schedule for months it seems, and now that the new year is upon us, I am revising my classes and choosing new products to put into my vendor booth. Naturally my attention is focused on Quilting Machines and the new products used with them. I have designed a line of quilting machine templates and I can’t wait to get to my first show and begin my demonstrations! These templates are a new product line for Creative Grids® called Sweet Set™, designed for use with quilting machines and just introduced at Quilt Market in the fall of 2009. But I digress . . . .
I am also excited about the coming quilt show season because I will be able to see what new products are on the market. It seems a shame that I can only learn about these at major quilt shows. I would love to have a local quilt shop carry the products I want and need for my machine quilting. Don’t you think your customers would appreciate being able to see the longarm quilting thread colors before they own 5,000 yards of each color? I bet they would appreciate looking at your stencils and knowing they were all continuous line designs! And, it would be great for them to look at the Sweet Set™ templates from Creative Grids®, and understand what makes them unique and valuable.
I have gotten used to buying products on the internet because that has been my only source. I don’t like it though, and I have made plenty of mistakes because I couldn’t examine a product before I bought it. And, I probably could return it, but the shipping cost, wasted time and hassle outweigh the benefit, so I don’t. I would love to have a place to go to buy my longarm quilting supplies, and I would travel hours to go there if there was a place to go! Especially if I read about a new product in a post on one of the internet discussion groups I belong to!
Think about all the new products that you saw at Quilt Market and how they are part of your product mix for 2010. Many products are crossovers – appealing to more than one customer segment. Do you have separate areas that display products together based on the customer interest? This may not work for all product categories, but it sure would work for sewing notions.
For instance, a simple crochet hook is used by people to knit, crochet, appliqué and machine quilt!
I use a tiny crochet hook to remove stray threads when they are caught in the batting and visible through the quilt top. The blunt end separates the fabric threads instead of tearing them, and the tiny hook can catch the stray thread, and extract it safely. I recently tried the Clover Soft Touch Thread Pic (4910CV) and I like that better. I wasn’t looking for a tool to remove threads, but I was told about it, and I tried it, and I like it! So, now I am telling people about it!
So what if you told your machine quilting customers about cool tools that will help them? Better yet, what if you had a separate area of your shop that displayed quilting machine products together? Best yet, Checker has a stand-alone display rack that could be used for this (MQD4RACKBLK), and it even comes with the sign “Machine Quilting Products” to draw the attention of your quilting customers. Fill it with products that they need – many of them you may already have in stock. By having them together on one rack you can see where there are voids, and you can fill them (with products from Checker of course!). And seriously think about sharing free additional information which educates your customers – what a value!
When you create a dedicated area for machine quilting products, tell everyone within a hundred mile radius! Send mailings to quilt guilds – did you know there are quilt guilds just for machine quilters? Put flyers on the information tables at local & regional quilt / craft / hobby / art shows. If you sell any type of quilting system, run pre-ownership classes and be sure to include a visit to the “Machine Quilting Product” area of your shop so they know you offer everything they need. Quilters love road trips, so don’t worry about distance. Offer lectures (instead of hands-on classes) on machine quilting techniques and encourage people to bring a friend, do lunch, and make it an ‘event’. Seriously, it would be worth a road trip! And, very few quilters can visit a shop without buying something. I bet you will be surprized at how many of your customers already own a quilting machine!
Let me know if you would like a copy of ‘My Favorite Products’ for quilting machine owners. Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!