Thanks for the Memories – Open House in Pictures – Part Three

The vendors went above and beyond to make our customers feel welcome.  They are the heart of the event…

Kathleen and Pat are the ladies behind the scenes that make Cut Loose Press a reality…

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Terry – the creator of Terial Magic shared all of the uses for this “super starch” that totally washes out – amazing….

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Debra from Zebra Patterns shared many of her block of the month programs – as well as the new shop program, Post Card Party….

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Janet Lutz – the shop owner who developed and launched the Row by Row Experience – single-handedly made shops profitable this summer…

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Jessi from Lumi shared her sun activated dyes – the first dyes that are truly user friendly….

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I spent way too much time in the Mettler booth talking to Phil Newton – who is an expert on thread….

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Susan Cleveland of Pieces be with You accents her pieces with exquisite piping and shared the technique with our customers….

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Lanette Edens demonstrated a host of notions as well as the Gypsy Quilter products….

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Diane and Dotti of Graphic Impressions hosted a Toy Shop for those impulse sales at the register…

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Deborah and Adam of Plum Easy shared their pin cushion and hot pad patterns that are always int he top 20, along with walnut shells….

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Stephanie Prescott of Quilter’s Dream has an amazing sense of color – and it shines through in her fabrics and patterns….

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Everything is bigger in Texas – except Kay Whitt of Serendipity!  This diminuative lady has a dramatic sense of style and showed shop owners how to incorporate garment sewing into their business…

 

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F & W Media shared the details of a new magazine program geared for shops….

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Learning opportunities were everywhere!

Race for the Cure

With all of the Quilt Market hype, October was crazy busy but the Checker family found time to participate in this annual event.

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The Wellness Committee organized this event.  Yes, Checker has a Wellness Committee that works with employees to improve health and wellness.  The poster child for this committee is Renee Shook, assistant buyer.  She lost 65 pounds and has become a fitness nut!  Her excercise of choice?  Mud Runs!!!

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This mother of three has become the go to person for anyone who has questions about diet, nutrition and exercise.

In fact, if you walk all of the aisles in the warehouse, it equals 1 mile.  Employees come in before work to walk this route and make exercise a part of their daily routine.

Janis not only is the go to person for our customers, she used her organizational skills to guarantee that this event went off without a hitch!

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Before it begins….
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Look at the crowds….
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Some ran….
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Some hitched a ride….
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R
enee carried a sign displaying the names of everyone who inspired the runners….
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Whether they walked or ran, they all crossed the finish line…
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Including the future employees of Checker….
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And, thank you to our photographer, Craig who made his outfit out of duck tape!
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Thank you for inspiring everyone to do better….be better…..live better…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home During Market – Checker was Everywhere

And so it begins….the crates arrive and the guys are ready…

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New arches welcomed our guests….

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The kiosks are loaded with new merchandise….

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While they were putting the finishing touches on the booth, we were upstairs sponsoring two school houses – standing room only!!!  Creative Grids always draws a crowd!

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Then, Judy and Judell Niemeyer wowed everyone with their new program….

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One of their quilts was displayed right next door in the Kauffman booth…..and look how they displayed their basics lines….
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We got back in the booth just in time for the daily sales meeting.  AdornIt showed their new lines…
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And, later wowed everyone in their booth….
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Before Market even opened, we hosted a Take and Teach session with Kathy Brown based on Strip Smart Quilts II and the Creative Grids double strip 90 ruler…
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As soon as Market opened, Jean Ann was demonstrating her new Creative Grids Hexie ruler in the booth….
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The CGR rack showcased just one block made with the new ruler.  What a visual – and a great way for you to showcase the rulers in your shop….
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And, we topped off the day at the Creative Grids dinner….and learned not to give a knife to a gal from Montana!  She might just break the plate!!!  Judell did her mother proud….
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Little Quilts embrace Big Technology!

According to their website: once upon a time, three ladies met at Quilt Guild. They started making small quilts as wall hangings. These “little quilts” became so popular and before the girls knew it, they were selling them. What started out as a “hobby” turned into a “little” business.  In 1998, Little Quilts opened in an old corn mill in Marietta, Georgia… and the rest, as they say, is history.  This year they will be their 15th anniversary, and they have watched the industry grow and evolve in many ways.

Wanda Hizer took time out of her busy day to tell me how the Checker Mobile App has saved them time – and whenever you save time – MONEY!  Their shop has become the poster child for this App.  When Jim McDonald went down to visit their shop, they were like most of us.  Their first reaction was, I don’t have time to learn it!  I’ve got customers to serve; classes to teach; and a blog to write!  Then, they showed it to Kathie West – who walks the floor everyone Monday morning so Wanda can place the order!
Wanda loved it!  She now walks the floor and enters the items right into her iPhone.  They have the Checker hang tags – that have colored pictures – so she knows what is missing and needs to be re-ordered even if they are totally out of inventory.
She then takes the order back to Wanda who adds any special orders, class requirement, new products she has read about in our newsletter, etc. – and can adjust quantities or delete items from the order before it is sent!  No mess, no fuss – and as long as they hit send by 2:00, the order arrives in two days!
Some of their favorite features:
What’s New:  You can check to see what is new in every category – and instantly see the products that have been added into the system most recently.  Wanda always checks these out to see if there is anything she wants to add.
Favorites:  The favorites for their shop are also listed by category so she glances through those lists as well to make sure she didn’t miss anything.
Back Orders:  If she already has some of a product on order and orders the same product again, the App tells her.  She can still order it – and increase her order – but doesn’t end up with multiples that she doesn’t need!!!
The Mobile App works on your iPad as well.  And if you have an iPhone, two people can be adding inventory to a basket at the same time.  Just ignore the dollar totals on the device you are using.
Checker strives to be the leader in the industry and to make your job easier!  They are working on ways to make your life easier every day.  As the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!!!!

Simple Patterns with Learning Opportunities

Cut Loose Press prints affordable patterns that all have one thing in common – they showcase specific notions and products so that you can feature them in demos and classes.  Your customers can then take the tool home and make something with it that they will absolutely love.  For shop owners, these patterns have the additional bonus of being printed on paper that isn’t readable when copied, are printed with the shop contact information on them, are never sold in chains, and since they are printed on demand – are guaranteed to always be in stock!

This revolutionary program is now running like a fine tuned machine!  Think about it – nothing like this program has ever been possible…..until now!  This is a perfect example of using the latest technology to everyone’s advantage – and the response has been amazing!

Many of your favorite designers are submitting patterns every day.  Here is an example of the latest offerings…

Karla Alexander created Against the Rails to feature her Straight Out of Line ruler by Creative Grids.  I love the touches of red that make this simple quilt a show stopper.  To watch Karla demonstrate the ruler, visit our website at:  http://www.checkerdist.com/products/CGRKA3

Item #CLPKAL001

Item #CGRKA3  Retail $18.95

Kathy Schmitz is a featured artist at Quiltcon in Austin next month.  For this design, Kathy uses a 2 ply – 12 weight Sulky thread to do her embroidery (Item #712-1005).  It is reasonably priced and comes on a spool so it doesn’t have to be wound from skeins.  Aren’t you curious???  Satisfy your curiosity for a suggested retail of $1.69.  Now that’s a no-brainer!

Item #CLPKSC001

This embroidery design showcases the frixion pens.  They are a great way to mark embroidery designs since the markings are removed when pressed!  Since Kathy is known for her blackwork, she uses a black pen so it matches the embroidery thread.

Item #FX7BLK  Retail $2.63

And, this embroidery design fits in a standard 5″ x 7″ frame!

Kathy Seal designed Sherbert Punch with the Creative Grids CGRT90.  Kathy sewed strips together to create the alternate blocks in this quilt….

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This new addition to the CGR line is 8 1/2″ high – which means you can sew together strip sets to measure up to 8 1/2″ and cut them into quarter-square triangles.  When sewn these strip pieced units will measure 16 1/2″!  Again, there are videos on our website to teach you how to demo the tool:  http://www.checkerdist.com/products/CGRT90

Item #CGRT90  Retail $18.95

Larene Smith created this heart wall hanging or small baby quilt just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Item #CLPSM001

This quilt features the Lil Twister, which is featured on Checker You.

Item #LILTWISTER  Retail $9.85

Our favorite Swirly Girls created this banner that is fat quarter friendly to showcase their new buttons by Dill.  The center of these buttons feature nine holes so they can be embroidered with any letters or designs.  What a sweet baby gift!

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Visit our website to see the entire collection of buttons:  http://www.checkerdist.com/products/notions?c=32904&u=41739

Sometimes we need a quilt that is quick, easy and fun – and is the type of quilt that your customers will make again and again.  American Hopscotch is such a quilt.  Feature it in your next Quilts of Valor day.

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This quilt is cut with the CGY1 ruler.  With so many quilts featuring pre-cuts – and those sizes, why confuse beginners with all of the other markings???

Item #CGRY1  Retail $25.95

These patterns have become very popular and new ones are being added each week.  Therefore, we have added a new feature to our home page.  On the left hand side, you can push a button to go directly to the Cut Loose Press section of the website or click a button that will take you to the ones that have been added in the last 30 days.  Check back often!

Checker Live – a Show just for you

This one is short and sweet – and for shop owners only!

Checker Distributors Website:  www.checkerdist.com

Checker Distributors has created the best website in the industry!  This site includes over 100,000 products – a shop owner’s dream!  You can also view video demonstrations of many of the products.

Creative Grids USA Website:  creativegridsusa.com

This site showcases all of the rulers and templates produced by Creative Grids.  You can even download a complete listing to keep track of your own collection.  The instructions for all current rulers are available for download and video demonstrations of all of the rulers are ready to view!

Checker Distributors Newsletter:  checkernewsletter.com

The Checker Newsletter is uploaded every Monday morning and includes three articles on a variety of subjects each week.  You can sign up to have the newsletter e-mailed to you by visiting the site.

CheckerYou

This website is only available to shop owners after you sign in using your Checker account number and I.D.  This site hosts over 300 videos and class lesson plans.  We went to the best!  Top vendors and designers in the industry such as Eleanor Burns and Judy Niemeyer show you how to demonstrate and teach classes.  Why not go directly to the source?

Checker Live

But we were missing something!  We needed a way to put this all together for you.  How do you market and display everything in your shop?  What are the new trends in our industry?  How do you host an event in your shop?  How do we share a wealth of information about a specific product such as batting, threads, wools, etc.???

Welcome to Checker Live – a 15 minute (more or less) internet show hosted by Karen Montgomery and yours truly. Karen owns a quilt shop, sells sewing machines, designs fabric, rulers & patterns, and writes a column for Fab Shop.  I write the Checker newsletter, am on the Creative Grids design team, write books for Landauer Publishing, write a column for Fab Shop and USED to own a quilt shop.  Between the two of us, we know just about everyone in the industry and have been quilting for over 50 years!  And, we never agree on anything!

So log into CheckerYou the first of each month to see the latest episode!!!  Enjoy!!!


Judy Niemeyer Premiers….

It’s hard to keep a secret – especially when that secret is about one of the legends in our industry!  We mentioned that Judy Niemeyer was going to be showing new patterns and products at our Open House.  Well, guess what!  I’ve got pictures – and permission to share them with you now!!!

We are proud to announce that Judy has joined forces with Creative Grids to produce templates for her Double Wedding Ring collection of patterns.  The gripper strips around the entire outside edges of the templates make short work of cutting these shapes from the paper-pieced units.

Item #CGRDWR  Retail $33.45
Available at the Open House

These templates are the perfect companion for those of you who have one of these quilts on your bucket list.  Or, why not make a bed runner or table runner for  a wedding or anniversary gift?

Bali Wedding Star  Item #JNQ70P  Retail $50.00
Available Now

Bali Bed Runner Item #JNP85P  Retail $25.00
Available Now

Grandma’s Weddng Ring Item #JNQ96P  Retail $25.00
Available Now

Flowers for my Wedding Item #JNQ93P  Retail $32.00
Available Now

Forever Yours Table Runner  Item #JNP74P  Retail $18.00
Available Now

Wedding Ring Table Runner Item #JNP85P  Retail $25.00
Available Now

And, here are the new patterns that will be shown at the Open House and in her school house!!!

Feathered Star Item #JNP97P  Retail $32.00

Cactus Flower Item #JNP98P  Retail $24.00


Split Log Cabin Item #JNP99P  Retail $26.00

This one won’t be available until October – but you can see it now if you join us at the Open House…..

Arizona Cactus Item #JNP100P  Retail $24.00

It doesn’t get any better than this!!!













What is Checker You

Why is there a Checker You???

Rob met with shop owners – and even shadowed them for a day – and realized that what everyone of you needs is more time in your day!  Anything that Checker can do to make it easier for you to multi-task effectively is a win/win for everyone.   And who is in the best position to make that happen?  Checker!

After all, the folks at Checker have personal relationships with the designers and manufacturers of the products that you sell every day.   And, these are the people with the most knowledge to educate you about their products.  So the buyers at Checker have asked our vendors to submit class plans and videos to teach you how to best teach your customers!  And, it is all in one place!  Checker You!

Visit www.checkeryou.com today to get your ideas flowing and your inspiration going!

When you visit the home page, you must sign in using your name and password – just like you do to order from the Checker website.  That is because this is an exclusive site for shop owners only!  And, since this is not – and is never intended to be – a consumer site, we teach you how to teach a class or present a demo from your viewpoint!

Click on the tab that interests you.  If you click on classes, this screen will appear:

The classes are listed by length so you can choose a time frame that fits your needs.  Need an all day class?  Check out the 6 hour classes.  Need to fill an evening?  We have that too!  When you click on a class, a lesson plan; info about the contributor; required class materials; and add-on sales are recommended.  (Not only are they recommended, but item numbers and prices are provided so ordering is simple.)  We even provide you with the ability to personalize and generate a promotional flyer.

If you click on demos, this screen will appear:

You can watch the demos to learn how to replicate it in your own store.  And, again, all required materials and add-on sales are listed – we want to save you time!!!

But, you can contribute too!  If you have a class or demo that is working for you, share it!  We are adding classes and demos daily – and now have a full time staff to meet the demand!  When you are dealing with a company like Checker – they don’t just think outside of the box -they build a whole new structure that has never existed before!  Now THAT is exciting!  And you ain’t seen nothing yet!!!


Find my iPhone

There is a reason that Checker chose the iPhone for their app – the technology is simply amazing!  Because of the Checker app – and the addition of MS Tags on the Creative Grids rulers – I changed to an iPhone when my contract was up and promptly bought an iPad.

My geeky children are impressed – and are constantly amused by my excitement when I figure out how to use something on my own.  But most of the time, I make a list of something I wish I could do, don’t know how to do, heard that I could do…and ask for a lesson when we get together.  If they try to teach me more than one thing at a time, I go on information overload!  So for those of you who still remember party lines – but have to explain them to your children, these posts are for you!

Find My iPhone

It takes less than five minutes to download this app (which is free) to your iPhone or iPad – but it can save you loads of frustration!  Just search for “Find My iPhone” in the app store and register.  Then if your iPhone/iPad/iPod is lost or stolen, you can go to:  https://www.icloud.com/ and find it.  (I have it bookmarked on my Dell laptop – doesn’t have to be an Apple product.)

This is the screen that will appear.  Click on the Find iPhone tab.

The devices that are registered will appear in the top left corner.  Click on the one you are looking for, and a satellite map will appear showing the location of your phone.

In this case, I was looking for my phone (which was in my jean’s pocket).  I clicked on my phone and it rang – at full volume – until I found it.  It doesn’t matter if you have the volume turned down or on vibrate!  I wish they would do this for the T.V. remote!

But it gets better, if you did leave it at a restaurant, etc., you can write a message that will appear on the front of the phone:  Oops – I’m lost, please call my owner at — — —–.  Or, if you call the restaurant, it will continue to ring until they find what cushion it fell under!

Worst case scenario – if someone steals your phone, you can wipe all of the information and lock the device by logging into:  https://www.icloud.com/.  But, if the phone is found – or you have to get a new one – the information is stored on the “icloud” and you can download everything onto your new device.  This “icloud” is the same technology that makes it possible for your “iDevices” to be synced at all times.

For those of us who are over 50 – and have fingers that prefer a keyboard – you can also edit all of your contact information on this site.  It is much faster and easier for me to do this on a full size screen!  Now, go explain typewriters and shorthand to your children!!!

Distributors are your Friends

We came across this article that Rob wrote a few years ago that rings so true today!  Get ready for a good read…

Insight into the Market

Checker handles a very diverse inventory of products from several different craft related areas including quilting, sewing, needle arts and crafting.  This allows Checker to offer Independents “up to date” information on current trends through the new products we purchase.  Checker has a team of buyers and each one provides valuable insights into the market’s direction. This keeps Checker at the forefront of what is happening with new products, trends and ideas. Direct companies are limited to their particular product category.  They do not offer the very broad insight into several different areas like a distributor can.

Product Selection & Saving Time

Many distributors offer extensive product selections.  For example, Checker carries over 80,000 items from 800 different vendors.  Shop owners appreciate the selection distributors offer because they don’t have to deal with several different companies to buy their products.  Keeping track of multiple orders, shipments and invoices from numerous companies is time consuming.  Utilizing distributors for “under one roof” consolidation of purchasing saves time and allows greater choices than could be realized from direct suppliers.

Cross Merchandising

Because we present such varied products we offer cross-merchandising tips on related products to maximize sales.  Checker buyers, sales reps, and customer service reps are very knowledgeable about related products and how they can be merchandised together to maximize sales.

Products Not In CHains

Checker provides our listing of NICHE products.  NICHE stands for products not found in chain stores.  Independent shops should focus on carrying products not found in chains when ever possible. For example, Checker’s Creative Grids Rulers are only sold to independent shops. There are also Independent Only fabric lines produced and sold by distributors.

Products Made in the USA

All products listed on the website that are “Made in the USA” display an icon of a flag.  We support companies who choose to manufacture their products in this country and save jobs.

Fabrics – Variety and Choices

Distributor sales reps allow shop owners to view several different fabric lines at the same time. Direct reps may only show a few lines of fabrics. The access to viewing several different linesof fabric while making their decision is truly an asset.  In most cases distributor pricing on fabric is very close if not the same as direct.  Many times, a distributor is actually closer geographically to the shop, which saves on freight charges. The ease of viewing multiple lines at once, buying smaller quantities, possible savings on freight charges, not having to deal with factors and consolidated billing is often times worth the minor price difference, if one exists.

Best Sellers

Checker’s web site, www.checkerdist.com. displays the top 20 sellers our top categories,   These items are not limited to one brand of product like a direct company, but rather the best-selling items taken from hundreds of different vendors. This gives the independent shop the opportunity to quickly check and see that they are carrying what is selling nationally.

What’s New?

Another unique asset Checker provides customers is the “What’s New” listing.  This is a quarterly publication that keeps shop owners current on new products.  Checker also has a “What’s New” link on their web site which keeps owners updated daily on new products.

Sale Items to Boost Profits

Distributors offer sales throughout the year for their customers.  Shop owners look forward to stocking up on sale products because it gives increased profits.  Most shop owners enjoy the profits of buying promotionally priced fabric to fill in blanks in their fabric selection.

Sales Reps Visiting Shops

Sales reps are an integral part of the distributor’s relationship with storeowners.  Sales reps carry samples of books, notions, patterns and fabric. Storeowners enjoy getting a “hands-on” presentation of these new products before making their purchasing decisions. Travel is expensive for the rep and the distributor but traveling reps are a vital part of our industry. They are indeed a value added attribute of utilizing distributors.

Ease of Ordering – 24/7

Checker and most distributors offer 24 hour ordering via the website, phone, fax or email.  Complete catalogs offer year-round representation of products.  Most shop owners are extremely busy, and do not have time to meet several sales reps.  Ordering from a central resource saves an abundance of time.

Consignment Orders for Special Events

Another unique service Checker offers customers is consignment orders.  For shop hops, county fair kiosks, anniversary, holiday and special sales or introducing a new product to a class, the consignment program allows the shop owner to sell the product without the risk of getting left with what doesn’t all sell out.  This is truly an asset to all shop owners. Call for details.

Shipping

Many distributors offer free freight on non-fabric orders that meet a certain dollar amount minimum.  Checker offers free freight on books and patterns and most notions.

Credit

Distributors manage their own accounts receivables and provide customers with their own line of credit internally. Most direct company’s use outside factors to manage their credit to shops.  Factors can often become an obstacle for stores.  Distributor’s credit departments frequently can react much quicker to credit issues. Distributors also offer credit cards as a payment option.

Distributors are a vital part of our industry. We provide numerable value added services to Independent businesses. Utilizing distributors helps keep the shop owner informed and current with new trends and new products. On a daily basis distributors contribute to the well-being and success of independent businesses.