Several years ago we had four quilt shops in our small town of 20,000. One was a home based business that specialized in batik fabrics. One was a regular fabric shop that carried a huge supply of quilting fabric. Another shop featured the newest Moda collections. And the last one carried quilting fabrics, several brands of sewing machines and gave classes.
I never really appreciated all the selection we had. If I needed a particular kind of fabric I just checked the shop that carried it. Well over the last while, one by one they have closed. We are now down to one. I've been thinking about this a lot. Why is it that they have closed? Each shop had its own reason. Retirement, or family reasons were what they told their customers. But I think the biggest reason is that we quilters didn't support our local merchants.
Our town is a short distance from the Canada/ USA border. In a couple of hours you can be at numerous quilt shops that carry the same fabrics and supplies that the shops in our hometown carry. However, there is one big difference. The cost of the fabric and such is dollars less in the USA. So for many people, a short drive would save them a lot of money.
I've really struggled with this. I like a deal ,so yes, I have shopped across the border. But I've also struggled with the fact that if I don't support my local shops, they aren't going to be there. I usually try to purchase what I am looking for at a local shop. Then if I just can't get what I am looking for I would go elsewhere.
I remember the days when we didn't have a quilt shop and I sure don't want to go back to that time.
It really makes me angry when I hear quilters say that the local shops are just ripping them off . That they are charging more for goods just because they can. It wasn't until I started my machine quilting business that I discovered that you can purchase many goods in a USA quilt shop for less than what a merchant can purchase the same product wholesale here is Canada. And I also discovered that a lot of big wholesalers make it almost impossible for a small business to purchase from them. They make it so that you have to order a certain amount of goods before they will accept an order from you. Often times those minimum order limits are so large that a small shop can't afford to buy from them.
Most quilt shop owners aren't in business because they want to get rich. They love quilts, quilting and quilters. They want us to have a place where we can go for inpiration, for help and for friendship.
So, if you want to keep a quilt shop in your community you'd better support them!