Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Your Dream Quilt Shop

Hello Quilting Friends!
I know I have posted anything on my blog in ages, but yes, I'm still alive and kicking. We've been busy as ever, but life is good. I need your input, friends.

My hubby and I are looking at building a new quilt shop, possibly a small quaint two-story building, on our 80 acres, close to the road for visibility, (and away from the house for our privacy.) I need ideas and a good estimate on how much room I will need. I would like to have my long-arm frame and sewing machines, etc. (the workroom) in upstairs. (I hope to have a second long-arm in the future.) The downstairs would be a quilt/fabric shop for display/sale. Mind you, I live WAY out in the country. We live on a busy County road two miles off the main highway, which is also close to a Turnpike. So, I doubt I would have a large amount of  face-to-face business traffic in the store - just mostly customers dropping off & picking up quilts for custom quilting services. Most of my fabric & notions sales would probably be on the internet.

I have a favor to ask of you, especially those who have a quilt shop/room. Would you mind answering a few questions:
1. What is the smallest room size would you have for quilting/sewing room?
2. What is the smallest room size would you have for fabric store?
3. How many bolts of fabrics would you start with at a minimum?
4. Are there any particular brands of fabric that I should buy or stay away from?
5. Besides the basic sewing/quilting supplies (needles, thread, scissors, etc) what items do think a customer should expect to see in a small quilt shop?
6. Are cutting tools & dies (like Accuquilts Go cutters) a good investment for a small retail shop?

To help you answer these question, it may be helpful to know a little about the geographic/economic area. I'm in rural Oklahoma. The nearest town of any size is Cleveland with population about 3500 people, and is considered a "bedroom community" (meaning 80% - 90% of the population commute to work.)
Our local Wal-Mart has a pretty large fabric section and they will move into the new Wal-Mart Super Center this fall. We were afraid that we would lose the fabric section like all the other new Super Centers. Recently, they were told they WILL keep the fabric department but will be scaled down a little bit.. (not as much as the new Super Centers in the bigger towns.)

Tulsa (and the surrounding Metro) is the largest city in our immediate area, about 30 - 45 minute drive. They have Hancock's, JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, etc and really not very many independent fabric shops that I have found through my internet searches.

Most the residents in our area ABHOR having to drive to the "big" city for anything. Heavy traffic, road construction, gas prices, and just the time and headache are big deterrents. However... on the flip-side, most of the residents are middle to lower income and are bargain shoppers or just plain frugal. I'm concerned that it will take so long to convince customers that the higher prices of quality quilt fabric is worth the extra expense. I do not want this business to be just a very expensive hobby, which is one of my dear hubby's main concerns and rightly so. I don't want it to go under before it has a chance to get up and running. I truly want this to be a self-sustaining, profitable business.

Any thoughts, suggestions, pictures, floor plans, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Happy Wednesday!

P.S. Oh, yes, I forgot to add that I will have a display case of honey, beeswax, candles, and other bee products for sale in the shop too. Hence the name Sweet Quilt-n-Bee Shoppe. *Ü*


  1. As a customer of small quilt shops, I like to see things I need on a regular basis, like bulk thread, nice thread and rotary blades, machine needles, hand quilting needles and grips, rulers and dies, a good selection of background, accent and solid fabrics.
    I like patterns and precut kits. Also, I like to be able to get fabrics that are not so "popular" but still fun and fresh. I get tired of seeing everyone using the same fabrics. Personally, I would buy an Accuquilt go cutter from a large retailer on the off chance I could use a coupon. I personally would not invest in carrying items that are of high cost to me initially. At least not at first. But I don't own a small business nor do I have much retail inventory experience.
    If you have a local quild, you might do a poll or questionnaire on what types of fabrics are of interest, ie civil war, modern, 30s etc.
    Also, my former local shop/retreat that I blog for has some pictures of the shop on their blog and website. They have small rooms but it works.
    You might even contact Cindy and pick her brain, since you are not direct competition. :)

    Best of luck to you! Let me know if I can be of help!
    PS I posted a call to help on my craft blog. :)

  2. I would reccomend talking to other quilt store owners. I recently opened a pizza restaurant and learned the best information from other stores, if they aren't in the same area, they were really helpful. Here is a link to my local quilt stores facebook page, regina is super nice and you can tell her i suggested you contact her. I am just south of you in east texas.

    I am a thrift shopper, i buy sale fabric mostly! i do buy some fat quarters from her now and then. She doesn't carry solids and i wish she did, i would buy more of those as i tend to lean towards more modern quilts. Being in a bedroom community though, i wouldn't set your expectations too low, I am amazed at how much people spend on quilt fabric, even people i wouldn't think could. addictions are addictions... lol. I know she does well with classes and i would consider having room for them. I think creating new customers would be important!

    space wise I know from my experience, what seems really big fills up really quick and you always wish you had more.

    good luck!! im going to follow you so i can follow how you are doing!!

  3. I agree with A.J. and Tamara. I would start out with good fabrics, but make sure they are the basics. Maybe even a few batiks? Seasonal fabrics are one thing I look for also. I was going to start a small shop here a few years back, as we have no fabric shops within 70 miles. But hubby talked me out of it. All of the fabric shops, including Wal mart closed down, so if I need fabric, I have no choice but to drive, or go online! I wish you lots of luck with your new adventure.

  4. Excellent lighting plus a place to view fabrics under incandescent lighting. Comfortable classroom space. An area that encourages hanging out. A kitchen.

  5. I do not own a quilt store, but I'll share about my favourite store. It is in a heritage building that used to be a general store. The front porch droops, the hardwood floors are worn smooth, and the resident golden retriever owns the shop. You have to pat her head before you get in. What I love about this shop is
    1. The ladies know their stuff. They are the go-to people when you need help for fabric selection. When I am unsure of what fabric to add to a quilt, I go there.
    And 2. It is a travel destination in it's own right. There are so many nooks and crannies in the store and they're all filled with fabric. They have a long arm machine in a side room. Their "long arm quilter in residence" does fantastic work and has earned his reputation.
    The store provides service. If you want to buy a bolt of batting, no problem. If you need 15 half yard cuts of fabric , again no problem. You are made to feel welcome and appreciated.
    She carries only quality goods, and probably every notion that is around. She has a bargain bin. She shows fabrics in a group that one would use to put together in a quilt. She has premade kits. When she holds a class, it is either limited to 6 that she can fit in her store, or it is booked in the local hall, and then 20-30 can sign up.
    Here's her link


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