If you are a shop owner, why should you care about an International Retail show? Because the most avid quilters attend these shows – and they are your best and most educated customers! These are the quilters who know fabric lines by manufacturer, authors by name, and schedule their vacations around quilt shows. These women represent your core customer base and have the same passion for quilting as you do! So, what did they see?
If you stay at the Hilton, there is a walkway to the convention center. And what a pretty walk it is…..this carpet was inspired by a Paula Nadelstern quilt and inspired me every morning…..
Machine quilting is alive and well – and around every corner! I didn’t take pictures because there are just too many companies involved. In the old days – about five years ago – there were only a few major players. Now there are over 15 – and the number is growing every day.
The prices have come down considerably – and are affordable to more and more people. These machines used to retail for $25,000 – $35,000 – and were only sold to customers who wanted to quilt professionally. Now, more affordable versions can be purchased for the price of a high-end sewing machine – and have payment plans.
For the monthly cost of what these prolific customers pay for machine quilting, they can make a payment on a machine – and do it themselves. Many are banding together to purchase the machine – and sharing it. I met a mother and three daughters who did exactly that – and will keep it in a bedroom at their mother’s house.
How does this effect you as a shop owner? These women are retail customers who now need supplies. They need threads, templates, battings, etc. If you have a quilting machine, consider giving classes. Start a quilting machine club – give them a place to network and learn from each other – and for you to learn from them!
As for us, we have become pro-active at Checker! We now have a new machine-quilting catalog and are actively adding products these customers will need. Just ask your sales rep for a copy.
Pat Barry of By Design Quilting will be writing a monthly article for this newsletter – and cover topics for the machine quilters. She is an expert in the field and will educate all of us in this ever expanding field! Look for these articles the second Monday of every month.
And, Creative Grids is producing an entire line of templates designed by Pat that are 1/4″ thick so they can be used with a round hopping foot. Because they are produced by Creative Grids, they are top quality, reasonably priced, and only available through independent quilt shops. Pat designed these templates to be so user friendly that even beginners can be successful!
As for Pat, she is simply amazing – and will give you helpful tips and information you will need to handle this ever growing aspect of your business. Check in, in a couple weeks!
Quilt Market and Quilt Festival both had LOTS of Civil War reproduction fabrics – booths and fabric lines were everywhere. The Civil War began in 1861 so we are coming up on the 150th anniversary of this event – so I don’t see this trend ending any time soon! A natural companion to these items is wool! It adds the texture and depth to the displays that make these fabrics come to life. Be prepared – and plan accordingly.
Primitive Gatherings Booth
Camping, hiking, hunting and fishing – all are experiencing a renewed interest in this economy. The National Parks are packed and have waiting lists. You may want to consider adding or expanding books, patterns, and fabric lines that reflect this new interest.
The Granola Girl booth at Quilt Festival
Then, there are those old friends that love the industry and are favorites because they make themselves accessible to our customers at these shows. They have become icons in the quilting world because they keep their finger on the pulse of our business – and listen!!!!
Orion Burns manning the Quilt in a Day booth – a family tradition continues….
Marti Michell talking to quilters in her booth
Then there are those booths that are sharing new techniques and ideas. These are the places I look for demo ideas. The Go machines cut fabric into shapes by simply turning a handle. This company is innovative and thinks outside of the box. They have LISTENED to their customers and have produced a quality cutting machine – with limitless possibilities. The plates can be changed to allow the user to cut any shape they desire. AND the company has created programs and patterns that support the shop owners – and all are available through Checker!
The Go Machine booth at Market! Everything is available through Checker!
If your customers are now comfortable with transferring images to fabric, you may want to consider introducing them to Kaleidoscope Kreator – also available at Checker. Make beautiful ornaments, cards, etc. This would be a perfect make it/take it class for the holidays.
My favorite new notion is a prairie point ruler by the folks at Quick Points Ruler. This is an absolutely GREAT demo item – and will be showing up in patterns by some of your favorite designers very soon. (I saw Penny Sturgis drooling over the samples and her creative juices were flowing!)
Checker has picked up these rulers – and it will be entered into our system very soon!
Now is the time to plan what will be offered in your shop next year! Why don’t you create the trends???