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Quilt Market Aftermath

Aftermath

Now that quilt market is over, how do you actually follow through with all those good ideas and big plans?

The aftermath from quilt market, all those samples, being behind at work, and figuring out how to stay inspired, is a problem we all face.

Once you catch up on sleep, organize your life, and start prioritizing and tackling your to-do list, you’ll still have to turn those big ideas into actions. Here are some tips on how to stay inspired so those non-time-sensitive tasks don’t fall by the wayside.

Staying inspired

Since inspiration is a big level idea, the ways to stay inspired are big level too. A good way to keep the motivation after quilt market alive is through your vision. What do you envision your business becoming? How do you envision getting there?

Another way to not fall in to the same rut is finding what motivates you. If that’s money, then that’s okay! Find something concrete to help measure your progress so you can see your ideas to fruition.

Stay healthy

Oddly enough, when reading what keeps other people inspired, the topic of health came up more than once. This makes sense though! If you prioritize a healthy diet and exercise, not only will you feel better, but the endorphines released during your workout last well beyond the 30 minutes of your routine.

Life often seems like a never ending to-do list. But when that to-do list has purpose behind it, it doesn’t seem as daunting. Living a balanced life while trying to accomplish our goals sometimes feels like an extreme sport, but as we entrepreneurs know, the reward is so worth it.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

 

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Finding the Perfect Exit

Exit strategy

This topic may not be something you want to think about, but it’s something every small business owner will have to confront; what is your exit strategy?

An exit strategy is exactly what it sounds, an outline of what will happen to your business when you leave. The goal is for the transition to be as smooth as possible.

There is no right or wrong reason for wanting to leave your small business, but the best exit strategy is making the best decision for your business.

Exit strategy options

  • Lifestyle entrepreneur. Although this isn’t technically an exit strategy, reframing your business plan from growth to stability is an option if you have a steady income.
  • Give the business to a family member. This tactic, also known as having a “legacy,” is great if you have a family member who wants to do what you do. What’s even better is the extra time you have to groom your successor for the position.
  • Find an acquirer. This option is for those who don’t have a legacy, but want to take care of their employees. Remember when it comes to negotiating that your employees came to work for you, not necessarily the business.
  • Get bought out by current employees. This option typically goes a little smoother than the latter option, but don’t forget that different management can have growing pains come with it. It’s also easier to negotiate staying on and working part time if you’ve worked with your successor in the past.
  • Sell your stake. The most “business-as-usual” strategy is to sell your stake to a partner.
  • Plan an IPO. Only 7,000 out of every 1,000,000 companies go with this option, but the more you know.
  • Liquidate the business. This is the most final and no-strings attached option. The cash you make from liquidating will need to go to any debts or unpaid bills, so if making money from your exit strategy is what you want there may be better options.
  • File for bankruptcy. Although nobody wants this, it is an option during times of trouble. Remember, it’s not the end of the world.

Questions to ask yourself

How long do you want to stay in the business? Don’t get offended by this question, everyone wants to enjoy retirement eventually! This will help determine the best option for you.

What are you financial goals? When it comes to planning (and let’s be honest, running the business) this is one of the most important questions. Knowing the answer to this before consulting with your lawyer or accountant will make your choice much more clear than if you go in unprepared.

Of course American Quilt Retailer wishes you the best of luck in your retail endeavors, but we’re also here to help with whatever question you may have. Feel free to comment below what’s helped you the most with your exit strategy.

 


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Quilt Market Boot Camp

Boot Camp

What’s a Quilters Boot Camp? Do you want to own a quilt shop? Is that your lifetime dream? We have a must-attend event for you coming up in mid-May.

Build your retail muscle in this spring quilt market boot camp

If you’re attending spring Quilt Market in Kansas City, don’t miss your chance to learn from seasoned industry veterans Pepper Cory, Cathy McKillip, and Janice Pope in “The Power of Three – A Blueprint for Success from a Trio of Experienced Quilt Professionals” on Wednesday, May 15 from 9 AM-4 PM.

In this day-long Boot Camp, the three experts will provide insight, business advice, and guidance from their individual perspectives and cumulative knowledge. Providing a mix of corporate business background, quilt shop ownership, and a healthy dose of creative solutions to employee and customer problems, this is the place to get answers.

Receive a guide of “How to Shop at Quilt Market” plus a marketing system for successful shop owners that will grow your business by 15%! Focus sessions include hosting events in your store, improving your customers’ shopping experience, handling difficult customers and “weirdo” employees, and more. Receive a book filled with strategies that can be customized for your business’ success. Leave with a personalized blueprint for actions to take as soon as you get back home. This panel will help you navigate problems and share solutions. And by the way—there will be fabulous door prizes!

About the presenters

Pepper Cory: Longtime quilter, former shop owner, author of seven books (and counting) and present-day fabric designer and teacher, Pepper brings her knowledge to the table with a side helping of humor.

Pepper Cory-boot camp

Cathy McKillip: Daughter of a quilter and seamstress since she was a girl, Cathy McKillip left her high-power corporate job to buy a quilt shop and opened April’s Fool Day 2007. Since then she’s never looked back!

Cathy McKillip-boot camp

Janice Pope: An entrepreneur since childhood, Janice has managed a quilt store, repaired antique quilts, owns a pattern company, and is currently a fabric sales representative. Her store owner customers love her advice and assistance.

Janice Pope-boot camp


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Schoolhouse Series

Schoolhouse Series

Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the premier and opening session of the Schoolhouse Series at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City.

This year’s quilt market officially runs May 17 – May 19, but the Schoolhouse Series starts May 16 at 10:00 a.m. Be sure to check in before, and breakout sessions begin immediately after.

The goal of the Schoolhouse Series is to provide quilt industry professionals opportunities for increased profitability through education.

Five business experts will help present during AQR’s session over topics including marketing, branding, social media, business coaching, and finance. The goal of this premiere session is to get you started with a mindset inspired to move to action.

Schoolhouse Experts

Here is a breakdown of the opening session presenters:

  1. Life coach Beth Montpas. Beth spent 20 years as a small business owner and now helps women regain confidence saying, “if you don’t like the part you’re playing in your life story, you can write a new script!” Certified by the John Maxwell Team, Beth is a frequent public speaker and contributor to AQR.
  2. Consumer anthropologists Rich Kizer and Georgeanne Bender. This duo has been helping businesses since 1990 while making appearances on MSNBC’s Your Business. They’ve also been named two of Retailing’s Most Influential People saying “Consumers can buy what you sell in any number of places so the experience with you has to be a stand out, every time.”
  3. CEO Leann Pressly. This self-proclaimed #bosslady is CEO of Stitchcraft Marketing and does consulting for craft companies. Leann pulls from her over 20 years of experience to give tips on both Stitchcraft’s blog and podcast and has spoke at such conferences as AFCI.
  4. Consultant Sommer Sharon. Sommer is a long-time business owner who’s company, Sleigh Consulting, specializes in search engine optimization and digital marketing.
  5. Business savvy Tom Shay. Tom offers business help and advice through a variety of platforms including through his website, podcast, speaking engagements, and articles. Tom gets more than anyone what it’s like to own a small business, so that’s why he created Profits Plus, a tool to help small business owners everywhere.

Register Today

The first 800 attendees get an exclusive article by American Quilt Retailer (available only after quilt market for purchase) and 400 blue bags stocked full of giveaways. Check out the link in the signature to register today.


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Declutter Your Digital Space

Declutter

It’s easy to remember to declutter your home when it’s a daily reminder, and easier to ignore one of the tools you use everyday—your computer.

Plan some time this Friday afternoon to clean up your digital space, within one day you’ll notice how less stressful your life feels.

Tips to declutter

  • Unsubscribe from emails you never read. Even notifications can be distracting and contribute to the everyday stress you feel. When you check your email you won’t even notice those subscriptions are gone.
  • Clean your desktop. That’s right, you should actually be able to see the background image on your desktop. It may have been years since you’ve been able to do this, but an organized desktop is the best time saver you can do for yourself.
  • Turn off notifications. If it really is important enough to check, you will.
  • Upgrade your systems. That’s right, the next time a reminder to upgrade pops up on your computer, don’t press ignore. Upgrading makes sure your computer has the best and safest software.
  • Download screen time monitoring apps. The nice things about these apps is they allow you to specify how much time you spend on what sorts of things, ie social media, learning, work, etc. We all know blue light isn’t good for our eyes so try to make the most of the time spent looking at it productive.

Increase digital space

  • Uninstall software. The easiest way to figure out how to do this is to Google it, this trick is more preventative as it will free space down the road.
  • Delete your downloads. Continuing on with the preventative tips, delete your download folder. This will save open up even more space and may also speed up your system.

Decluttering your digital space will make you feel more organized than you realize. Nothing is better than knowing exactly where something is, and these tips will help you get there.


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Think Outside the Box

Class ideas

Is it difficult for you to decide what classes your quilt shop should offer? This blog post is all about outside-the-box class ideas your community is guaranteed to love.

Class Ideas Everyone Will Love

  1. Flower arranging. There is beauty in every day things and flowers are full of that beauty. This craft is sure to attract both current creative customers and new creatives too. I remember this class being a hit back in my university days and currently with the Minneapolis Institute of Art offering a similar event with a twist. Invite your local greenhouse gardeners to help make this class a hit.
  2. Cocktail lab. With opportunities to make this class seasonal, this also provides another way to get outside community business owners involved. Have bartenders from your favorite local restaurant help attendees learn about flavors and pairings, how to make their most-sold drinks, and more.
  3. Watercolor. This craft is a great entry for those wanting to learn how to paint. This class could be a series, or a girls night out. With minimal set up and supplies needed, a quick rearrangement of your shop makes your business the perfect venue.
  4. Dancing. When was the last time you and your partner danced? After a class of movement (and remembering how to waltz), you’ll also remember how much fun it used to be for you. This course is great for all ages—consider pairing youth with elderly, or having a couple classes for different age groups.

What classes have worked for you? Share in the comments below what continues to be a hit for your shop!


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Why You Should Shop at Small Businesses

Small Business

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but this post serves as a reminder to how supporting small and local businesses impacts you and your community. Feel free to share with your customers the next time the topic comes up!

Small businesses define communities

Think back to when you were a child – what stores do you remember and why do you remember them? Likely these stores were a staple of your community, that also happened to have great products. Local businesses add character to a neighborhood, and provide it’s employees freedom that large companies stifle. Thanks to this, innovation is more likely to thrive in a small business. Do you remember the last time you were sad hearing of a business that closed down? Small businesses become more than just an economic driver and add to the well-being of a community.

Small businesses have better service

Local businesses face many challenges to stay afloat in their respective marketplaces, marketplaces that are only becoming increasingly more competitive. Because of this, you’re likely to receive better and more personalized service; this means you’ll never be put on hold when you call and they’re going to know your name when you walk in. You’ll never have to worry about who’s interests are being met, whether it be stockholders, boards, or an algorithm, small businesses have your needs in mind.

According to Forbes, shopping at small businesses is a sign of respect, not only for the product but for the owners, too. It takes a lot of work and heart to get something going, and supporting that benefits all parties involved. Share your tips below on how you encourage others to support local businesses, and what small businesses have inspired you.


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Check Out Your Checkout

Checkout

Have you ever thought about what your checkout counter should or shouldn’t have? When you think about it, it’s the most important part of your store (aside from the window display, but that’s encouraging business from the outside in). By the time customers make it to checkout, they’re ready to spend their hard earned cash on the products you’ve provided. Here are some ideas to make the most of that space.

  • Encourage impulse buys. This is a great place to put gift cards and small, must need items. Examples include thimbles, rotary cutters, needles, and other quilting notions. Anything you can think of that would nicely round out a crafting project should be placed here.
  • Spice up the place. Adding a plant to the counter or quotes that inspire you are easy ways to do this. This is also a great place to put seasonal decorations, and to make a statement with your personal style. Having art on the counter can transform the entire room. Also make sure you have great lighting here, too.
  • Advertise. This is the one place in the store customers are static and attentive. If you’ve been thinking about adding a TV to your store, behind the checkout counter is the perfect place to do it. Have a slideshow of different store products run all day. If you’d rather skip this, then definitely put your social media handles in the vicinity to grow your social following.

What else can I add to my checkout?

If you contribute to a charitable cause, your checkout is a perfect place to display that, and to encourage others to donate. Every business has a checkout counter, so take note of what they include and what you’ve bought last second. Talking to other business owners is always a great way to get ideas. Share your thoughts by commenting below; let us know what has worked for you.


Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is hosting the opening session at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City! Their Schoolhouse Series includes breakout sessions and an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge from the people who make, design, or write about the products you sell. Register to attend today.

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Industry Changes

Industry Changes

The quilting industry, like anything, is constantly changing. These changes vary from learning how to promote your business on social media or building a website, but there are still trends that affect your brick-and-mortar store.

A Sustainable Industry

Consumers are becoming more aware of where their products come from and how they are made. Nobody feels happy about giving money to a company who makes goods out of sweat shops, or a company with blatant disregard on their waste. How much do you know about the products you carry? How could you go about finding out more about their carbon footprint?

Payment

Consider how many customers wrote you checks this month, compared to 10 years ago. I would guess the amount of electronic transactions your business receives (and let’s be honest, gives) has drastically declined. Look into different payment options; does your store have an iPad that could benefit from Square? Has anyone asked you recently if you accept Apple pay? Does setting up direct deposit to pay your employees make more sense?

Customer Data

Online customers and in-store customers are equally important. How much do you know about the purchasing history of people who walk into your store? What customers prefer shopping online? Who does both? With multiple ways to get to your product, it’s important to keep tabs on this information so you can tailor an amplified experience when a customer comes in your door.

People who say retail is dying is missing the point; what is retail but an experience? Those who can maximize the experience for the customer while maintaining their brand are the retail stores that will continue to thrive.

Of course, there are many trends that effect the way customers shop, and how stores can meet their needs. Leave a comment if you’ve noticed any changes or have any suggestions.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Inspiring the Next Generation

Next Generation

How can quilters inspire the next generation?

When I started thinking about this topic I imagined kids, young girls (or boys) around eight to 14 who like to spend time with grandma and want to learn some of the things grandma can do.

As I started researching this project, I soon found out my idea of the “next generation” needed to be much broader.

As it turns out, many young people—think ages eight to late 20s—want to learn how to quilt but don’t know how to start.

Young Adults

There are many obstacles preventing these young adults from taking the next step; they don’t have access to a sewing machine, they weren’t introduced to the craft until they received a baby blanket for their first child, etc.

But there are many ways quilt retailers can help. Having classes where everyone is a beginner is a good place to start.

Also reaching out to this audience where they already are is a good idea. This social media-saavy demographic can even help you, if you don’t feel comfortable with Instagram take a poll at one of your events to find out what content your audience would like to see, then cater to that. As with anything, the more you use something, the easier it will become.

Youth

As for youth, it turns out classes are a good way to reach them too. Consider having a mother/daughter event that goes over the basics of sewing, and have easy projects so attendees can leave feeling accomplished.

The DIY industry is bigger than ever, it’s just up to us to tap into new talent.

Leave a comment below of your favorite children-inspired or quilting for beginners products and media.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.