Last week, Meg Cox was nice enough to share some of the ideas she talked about in her Schoolhouse presentation at Houston. This week, she is sharing the specifics – how to host a how-to-quilt party at a different location and then encourage those customers to come to your store. Thanks, Meg
For Checker Newsletter
By Meg Cox, author of The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide
Item #13881 Retail $18.95
Hosting a Learn-to-Quilt Party to Build New Customers
People who don’t know how to quilt now aren’t coming to your shop. But if you can get them started on a quilt, however simple, they’ll need what you’re selling.
My advice is to find a bookstore in your area with a flair for community events. Tell them that you’ll host this free Learn to Quilt Party in their space and they can sell The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, along with other good quilt books for beginners.
A local library is another possible venue, as long at the staff are energetic promoters. Here are some tips based on what worked for the two events I produced at a local independent bookstore in Princeton, N.J.:
Because you want to attract new customers, the bookstore needs to lead on this, putting signs up in the store, alerting the local media, and most important, sending e-mails to their customer list. What you can do to help is to provide at least one stunning quilt for them to hang in a prominent place, next to a sign about the quilt party. This should be a beginner quilt, but not look like one. Give the store some information to help sell the event about how the newly cool craft of quilting has doubled in a decade — and is a perfect
new hobby during a recession.
Preparing for the Quilt Party:
The two most important things we did were to actually get people started on a quilt, and to make the event fun, a real party, with refreshments, raffle prizes and time to chat. We wanted guests to see the rich resources for quilters within their own community, so members from the local quilt guild were invited to make a short presentation and stayed to help people start their quilts. Fabric was pre-cut in 10 and a half inch squares (the bookstore needs to keep a sign-up sheet, so you’ll know how much fabric to cut. Our event for adults drew more than 30). You’ll cut squares according to the pattern you use, but make sure the fabric squares come from fabric in stock, so people can finish what they start!
How the Party Works:
Grab the crowd with great show-and-tell quilts from the quilt shop. Show your sample quilts from beginner classes, easy kit quilts, and Block of the Month quilts (this will be a fascinating new concept to most non-quilters).
Explain how quilting has changed to become faster, high tech and more personal and share the ways your shop supports quilters. Then pass out fabric and have them sew at least two blocks together, by hand or machine: at our events, local guild members brought machines to help those who wanted to sew by machine. Some people milled around and drank quiltinis (mocktails with cranberry and pineapple juice) and ate cookies with “patchwork” frosting while others sewed.
Use what pattern you wish, but we used the easy tied quilt from The Quilter’s Catalog, and during the party, demonstrated the easy technique of tying, letting guests do practice ties on a sample quilt. (Note: if you want to use this pattern, it’s available free on my website, www.megcox.com and advertised on the homepage. Feel free to copy and print.)
Prizes to Give:
The Pennington Quilt Works put together a lovely basket full of fat quarters. Each party guest picked a fat quarter and tied to it was a business card from the shop, complete with address, hours and the website. Participants also got a coupon for a free box of quilter’s pins the first time they come to the shop. Raffle prizes consisted of a few big fabric bundles. Being the creative shop-owner you are, add your own flourishes. I’d love to hear how it goes! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll send you the quiltini mocktail recipe.