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Spinrite Acquires Coats & Clark Inc.

Spinrite acquires Coats

Leading producer of yarn Spinrite diversifies offering with purchase of the North American Crafts business of Coats.

The Canadian based craft yarn company is still closing the deal, but will absorb prestigious craft brands such as Red Heart, Coats & Clark, Aunt Lydia, and Susan Bates.

This means Spinrite will be able to offer sewing thread, embroidery thread, trims, and zippers outside of knitting yarn. 560 employees of Coats will also become a part of the Spinrite team along with manufacturing and distributing centers in Albany, Toccoa and Douglas, Georgia.

Coats Group

Coats, known as the world’s leading distributor of industrial thread, has offices in 50 countries across six continents and employs over 19,000 people.

The craft giant also operates in a variety of industries, including apparel where their personal protection technology uses their in-depth knowledge of digital blends to provide “differentiated flame/cut resistant woven or knit products.”

Other industries they operate in include footwear, automotive, medical, and more.

As for their specific brands that will join the Spinrite roster, Red Heart is known for yarn, Aunt Lydia for crochet thread, Susan Bates for craft tools, and Coats for yarn, embroidery thread, and zippers too.

From the acquisition press release, President and CEO of Spinrite Ryan Newell says, “We are thrilled to add the prestigious Coats craft brands to our growing portfolio… Product diversification is one of the key pillars of our long-term strategic plan, allowing us to offer a broader assortment to our retail partners and consumers.”

Stay tuned to the American Quilt Retailer blog to find out about industry news including acquisitions, events, and more.


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Aurifil Goes Plastic Neutral with Plastic Bank

Plastic Bank - Plastic Neutral

Aurifil goes Plastic Neutral through a partnership with the Plastic Bank.

Aurifil, considered the world leading manufacturer of 100% cotton thread, asked themselves what they can do to decrease the plastic footprint they create from the thousands of spools left over from their thread used to create garments, quilts, accessories, art, and more.

As it turns out, Aurifil customers care about the same issue, too. Aurifil was consistently getting asked same questions about what their spools were made of and what customers can do to recycle them.

Although Aurifil encourages consumers to reuse spools, they took a look at the ever-increasing plastic build up in our oceans and knew that step alone wasn’t enough.

Aurifil Goes Plastic Neutral

Going Plastic Neutral

Enter Plastic Bank, a non-profit based in Canada that works to stop ocean plastic while impacting impoverished areas across the globe.

Plastic Bank accomplished their goal by changing plastic to a form of currency. Impoverished communities can exchange collected plastic for money, items, or rewards. By transforming plastic into a form of currency not only does it incentivize collection but makes an economic impact on communities around the globe who are most in need.

The new partnership will offset Aurifil’s plastic production rate by 8000kg. This means that areas around Indonesia, Haiti, the Philippines, and Brazil will clear 8000kg of plastic from their oceans.

Of course you can help the cause too by recycling spools in the traditional sense, or taking note from Kate Brennan, sales and customers serivce at Aurifil, who uses empty spools to store binding.

Individuals have the opportunity to go plastic neutral too, find out more at the Plastic Bank.


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Threads of Success Registration Open

Threads of Success Registration Open

The wait is over! Registration for this year’s highly anticipated event at Quilt Market, Threads of Success, is now open.

The event takes place from October 25th through the 28th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

Threads of Success will include 35 breakout sessions that include opportunities for networking, lectures from keynote speakers, and educational features.

Geared toward industry entrepreneurs, the sessions will cover topics including writing, inventing, pattern design, Focus Tracks of Fabric Designers, accounting, copyright law, and more.

Of course anyone is welcome at the stand-alone conference but the event will be extremely beneficial to anyone breaking into the industry.

22 industry leaders have already been announced as speakers including Tula Pink of Tula Pink, Inc., Jennifer Keltner of Martingale, Christa Watson of Christa Quilts, and more.

Some of these speakers will present during one of the conference’s three breakfast and two luncheons.

The conference also includes a mentorship program with well-known names in the business and exclusive access to the Quilt Market trade show on the last day of exhibits.

Schoolhouse Series

Registration for Schoolhouse Series is also available upon registration to Threads of Success.

Schoolhouse Series includes over 250 sessions offered in 15-30 minute intervals on October 25th. The information-filled forum provides opportunities for manufacturers, designers, retailers, and veterans of the industry to display new products and techniques.

Both of these events give attendees insider access to a wealth of knowledge. Industry professionals will help you find out how to get published, avoid costly mistakes, market yourself, expand your creative network, and so much more.

Registration for Threads of Success costs $750 for the four day event.

For a complete list of classes and events, check out their website.

Continue reading Threads of Success Registration Open

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How you know it’s time for expansion

Expansion - is it time?

Are you wondering if it’s time to grow your business? Check out these six signs to see if expansion is the best option for you.

  • You’re bored. Do the days feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Maybe it’s time for a challenge, and one challenge that will get you off the hamster wheel is seeing if expanding is the best option for you.
  • You’re overworked. You gotta make money to spend money, and if you’re doing work that could be delegated to someone else, think about hiring someone part time. With that extra time you could find more ways to make money.
  • You’re in high demand. Do you have to schedule orders weeks in advance? Are you having to turn customers away because you’re out of stock? This is a tell-tale sign to find ways to partner to make sure everyone leaves your store happy.
  • You’re profitable. If you’re making a profit in the hundreds (or even thousands) consistently, you are ready to expand. If your profits aren’t trending, then wait a while until they do. Read this article from Forbes to find out more.
  • You have opportunities. Has someone contacted you for a larger than usual order? Are people wanting to partner? Jump on that opportunity before it goes away (after all you never know when it will come again).
  • You have ideas. The best entrepreneurs act on market trends. Do your research first, but if you’re sure something is going to take off find a way to make a profit off it.Expansion.png

Expanding is exciting and can open doors for your business you never imagined. If you’ve been thinking about it, maybe it’s time to take the next step.

This article was inspired by The Small Business blog.


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Colchester Mill Fabrics and Quilting

store front cropped dec 06, 3 34 24 pm

American Quilt Retailer is pleased to feature Colchester Mill Fabrics and Quilting of Colchester, CT, in today’s Open for Business blog post.

mainroomStore name: Colchester Mill Fabrics and Quilting
Who owns the store: Cheryl Dolloff
Years in business: We will celebrate 44 years in business in March, 2019.
Number of employees: I have eight employees. Three are full time and five are part time.
Social media info:  www.colchestermillfabrics.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/colchestermillfabrics/

Types of special services offered — While we are technically a full line retail fabric store, our main focus is quilting. We offer services you won’t find in many other shops. We have on-site scissor sharpening, we can cut foam for replacement furniture cushions, we make bows from our ribbon stock or from customer’s own. We carry a wide variety of yarns and offer help with knitting and crocheting projects.

yarn display dec 05, 4 12 04 pm

Store location — 120 Lebanon Avenue, Colchester, CT 06415
We are in the former Levine & Levine Coat Factory building, a 16,000 square foot free-standing building that still has the old steam pipes and sprinkler system, which adds to the charm of our building.
We are in the south eastern portion of Connecticut, thirty minutes from the capital, Hartford. We are 2.5 hours southwest of Boston and 2.5 hours northeast of New York.

christmas display dec 05, 3 58 24 pm

What is the history of your store?
My mom, Carolyn, was a stay at home mom who made custom drapes, slipcovers and pillows for customers. She shopped at Colchester Mill Fabrics for supplies. She became aware the business was for sale, and in the fall of 1974, asked her mother-in-law for a $25,000 loan to buy the store. The store was purchased in March 1975 and she suddenly lost her lease. My Mom found a small strip mall that was on the main road and decided to buy the location.  It housed several other businesses and as our business grew,  the other tenants were asked to leave. Finally, our store encompassed the entire 8000 sq. ft.
We were truly the one stop shop and had customers coming for as far away as Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York. We carried fashion fabrics, home decorating fabrics, trims, yarns, a vast craft department and every notion known to mankind. If we didn’t carry it, it wasn’t going to be found. We traveled to NYC several times a year to Cranston Print Works to purchase fabrics. When quilting starting to become vogue, we started carrying calicoes and later batiks.
On June 3, 1997, I was in NYC on a buying trip when I got a frantic call that the store was on fire. We had been burned to the ground in an arson fire. We had to decide what our future was going to be. The outpouring of love and support from our customers was overwhelming and Mom said, we had to reopen for them.
Mom had a vision for a new store and spent days trying to make that a reality. She and my stepdad were driving through town and found that an old Harris Tweed coat manufacturing building was for sale. She brought me to look at the building which was “off the beaten path.” I took one look and started to cry. There was no way we could make this rundown, old, smelly building work for us. She pushed me to look past all the ugly.
Exactly one year from the day of the arson fire, we opened in the former Levine & Levine Coat Factory building. We went from 8000 sq ft to almost 16,000 sq ft. We carried the same types of inventory in the new store as we did before but now had a more dedicated quilt department. With such a huge area to fill with product, we expanded in every department including having a classroom. Classes were a challenging and as new product came in, the classroom got smaller until finally, it was replaced with fabrics.

arson fire storyboard dec 06, 6 14 53 pm
Recently you changed from a fabric store to a quilting store. Why did you do that and what were the steps, and challenges, involved?
When my Mom fell ill, I took a more active role in the day to day business. I tried to have my vision but it was still Mom’s store and she had final say. She passed away May 5, 2011. In 2016, we reduced the square footage devoted to our home decorating department by about half, we cancelled our 40+ year contract with McCalls pattern company, and we added a small classroom.  We brought more quilting type products, reduced the square footage that we devoted to fashion fabrics, and rearranged fixtures to allow better quilting type displays. The classroom now has 10 tables, a 18×20 rug, retractable electric from the ceiling, a 55 inch tv and space to comfortably seat 12 people for classes, and about 50 people for guest speakers/lectures.
Mom’s voice is with me every single day. All these years later, I finally realized she was my mentor and without her, I wouldn’t have the amazing shop I have today.

How large of an area does your customer base draw from?
Our core customer base comes from all over Connecticut, but we draw from all the neighboring states including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and parts of New York. We are approximately 30 minutes from the shore, so  tourist traffic is mostly summer traffic. We have great leaf peeping in our area, and we see an upswing of tourist traffic during October as well. Being 20-30 minutes from two casinos, we  many customers that visit them. We’ve heard plenty of stories of wives leaving their husbands at the casino so they can shop with us.

girls night out dec 06, 4 02 05 pm

What makes your business great?
We are much larger inside than what you see on the outside. First time customer stop right inside the door, eyes and mouth wide open, not knowing which direction to look first and just gasp. We carry nearly 5000 bolts of cottons from major manufacturers. We have patterns, books, batting, notions, and gifts for every quilter. Along with all the products, we have samples of many patterns on display as well as the kits to make them.  We also carry fashion fabrics and designer fashion cuts from the New York and Los Angeles Fashion District. We also carry sewing notions, crafts and yarns. We also provide services such as scissors sharpening. We are happy to provide the environment that takes you to another happy place.

batik area dec 06, 3 10 11 pm

You have a lot of great events at your store. How many do you have each year and how do you manage them?
We try to have a big event each quarter. The event can be a guest teacher/lecturer, themed sale or a retreat. Each New Year’s Day we have a Pajama Party. If customers come in wearing jammies, they receive a store wide discount. Staff are required to wear their jammies to keep up the theme. In recent years, we have hosted fabric and pattern designer Toni Steere from Wing and a Prayer Designs, and Timeless Treasures for a trunk show and a two day class. We have hosted former Connecticut resident, fabric and pattern designer Jackie Kunkel from CV Quiltworks for a trunk show. Alex Veronelli from Aurifil Thread taught us all about thread. We were entertained by QT Fabrics and learned all about their long history and everything we wanted to know about fabric printing. We recently had Sue Reich, a local quilt historian with the largest personal collection of historical quilts visit us for a very moving lecture about WW2 quilts and how they related to Connecticut. We hosted our first ever Quilter’s Camping Retreat this past October. We have a Spring as well as a Fall Retreat in the works for 2019. The key to a successful event/sale is cooperation from my staff, delegating when possible, and a wonderful customer base that appreciates what we do for them.

cmf collage dec 06, 5 11 56 pm

What advice can you give other shops about how to run events?
Organize, organize, organize and organize more. Myself and my manager, Liz have a wonderful working relationship. We both have vastly different strengths and we know how to work well off each other. Attention to detail is extremely important to us and while it can make for challenges organizing events, in the long run, it is a life saver for us. Expect the worst, plan for it and know that you can handle whatever situation arises.   I have a large wall white board calendar that is updated weekly that I can glance at for advanced ordering as well as classes and details for trunk show arrivals and return dates. Because we are having even more events in 2019, I’m working on a yearlong calendar that I can events/sales for the year. This will allow me to see what months we have gaps in events/sales. I know I must work harder on my organizational skills this year.

scott fortunoff lecture dec 06, 4 02 16 pm

Do you take time off during the week or for vacations or travel?
We are open seven days a week so I have scheduled time off. I rarely take more than an afternoon off, though. To stave off burn out, I travel to St. Croix 3-4 times a year to spend time at our condo. I’m extremely fortunate to have a wonderful staff and a bookkeeper who keep the store running smoothly. I have access to all aspects of my business while I’m out of the shop so I’m never truly away but I am able to step away and know the shop is in good hands.

kaffe display dec 06, 9 34 33 pm

Do you bring in trunk shows from designers?
We bring in trunk shows or new quilt samples from designers we find at Quilt Market. Right now, we have a trunk show from Pieces to Treasures, a lovely Moda designer from Australia that features patterns using dish toweling. We do base some of our fabric buying around a quilt sample offered through our fabric vendors. We will reach out to designers asking to borrow quilts. This saves me money by not having to have a sample made for display. It also allows our samples to change on a regular basis so we always look fresh.

Quilt room Dec 06, 4 55 26 PM.jpg

Does your area have shop hops? What is expected of you when you belong to a shop hop?
For over twelve years, we’ve had a 12 shop Shop Hop, held every other year, in September.  We meet several times a year to determine what we will feature during the Hop. Each shop is expected to have a sample of their shop project on display, light refreshments and one or two sale items specifically for hoppers. Each hopper receives a free pattern for visiting each shop. We have our own quilt featured on the cover of the pattern we choose making each pattern that much more personal to the shop.  In previous hops, we have given away sewing machines, huge gift baskets and shop gift certificates for completed passports. This year, we are having a party themed hop. Each shop will host a different themed event. Our theme is Country Fair and we plan to offer games like pin the thread on the machine, bobbing for fabric etc.

red button display dec 06, 5 56 42 pm

What kind of advice can you give for creating displays?
Having a large craft department helps us with products needed for displays. Being a very visual industry, our displays need to tell a story but not be so over the top that customers don’t want to shop the display. Various heights, colors, textures and shapes in our displays make a customer stop and see everything. I am a firm believer of signage. Customers need to know what they are looking at and not guess what pattern/fabric etc is used in a sample. We want our displays to make customer just have to buy something! My staff takes a vision I have and runs with it or I leave display ideas up to them.
I was given the ultimate compliment from a staff member this week. She explained that a first time customer commented on what a wonderful first time shopping experience she was having, that she doesn’t have a boss but has a leader that truly appreciates her staff. Appreciate your staff and let them know it often.

This article is proudly brought to you by our sponsor:

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Rethinking Burnout

Rethinking Burnout

Perhaps you read the title to this blog post and thought “burnout doesn’t apply to me, I’m really happy where I am in my life.”

Maybe work is going great, and your relationships are too. You’re sticking to your New Year’s Resolution and you’re looking forward to the future.

But first let’s ask the question, what even is burnout?

Do you have burnout? AQR

A quick Google search shows that burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”

Reading this description may not seem like burnout is present in your life, but what does your to-do list look like right now? Are there tasks on it that you keep putting off?

You can make the argument that these tasks don’t need to be done right away, that they’re more work for little reward, and a million other excuses as to why you’re not getting to them.

The biggest misconception about burnout is that it doesn’t target just corporate executives and high-powered politicians, but burnout lies in the nuances of everyday activities, the same everyday activities that weigh you down.

Maybe to address this you’ve taken a vacation three months ago but have fallen back into the rut. Maybe you take time each day to do a self care routine, but the to-do list stays the same. Maybe you’ve figured out that those things may be fixing other things in your life, but burnout isn’t one of them.

Unfortunately I don’t have a solution to the problem of burnout. At the least, I do hope this article helps you to target the burnout in your life and inspires you to take steps to address it.

If this topic was interesting to you, check out this article from BuzzFeed News.


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Top Trends for 2019

You may have read about this in our digital issue, but the best way to track what’s trending in 2019 is by taking note of what’s popular at quilt market.

American Quilt Retailer did just that and narrowed the list down for you! Check out the top ten must haves your store should stock up on for 2019.

  1. English paper piecing. Popular in Britain, this trend is making it’s way across the pond to gain popularity in the U.S. EPP is appealing for a variety of reasons, including increased creativity and easy to do on the go.
  2. Hand embroidery. You may want to stock up on extra embroidery hoops as this trend doubles as wall decor.hand embroidery
  3. Kitchen. Kitchen themes were prevalent this year; as it turns out quilters love to cook—and it’s influencing their craft too.
  4. Fruit. Going off the kitchen theme, quilters are craving summer, with fruit being one of the main staples of the kitchen theme. fruit
  5. Succulents. Popular for several years in the craft world, succulents are now becoming popular to quilt as well. Chances are many of your quilters like to garden too, so selling some of these plants (and having them as a display) may not be a bad idea.
  6. The color blue. Blue is the new red. Shades of blue could be found everywhere, so consider expanding your store’s options.blue
  7. Pop-up shops. Inspired by the fashion industry, retailers inside and out of that industry are jumping on the pop-up shop band wagon. Have a go-to display and products that are easy to take to and from events in your community.
  8. Small piecing. Attention to detail is what crafters are all about this year. Pair patterns of fat quarters to make your customer’s shopping trip a little easier. tiny
  9. Characters. Everybody has a favorite TV show, and consumers want more of them. Stock up on your children and grandchildren’s favorite characters (think Spongebob, Harry Potter, video game characters, etc.) popularized by society.
  10. Intergenerational quilting. Turns out, quilting can be a bonding experience too. Check out your kid’s selection of books and kits to help inspire the next generation of crafters.

You can read more about what we saw at the fall Quilt Market in the December issue of American Quilt Retailer.


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Sew Simple of Lynchburg LLC

American Quilt Retailer is pleased to feature Sew Simple of Lynchburg in today’s Open for Business blog post.

Shop: Sew Simple of Lynchburg LLC
Address: 2414 Wards Rd. Lynchburg VA 24502
Phone: (434) 239-6708
Website:  https://AmyQuilts.com
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/amyquiltsdotcom,
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/AmyQuilts
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/AmyJohnsonQuilts
Owners:  Amy K Johnson and Eric Johnson
Services: Janome sewing machine sales and service, classes, plus fabric and supplies.
Years in business: 2.5 years as a brick and mortar store, 1.5 years as an online shop before that to support my online classes with rulers, ruler feet, and tools
Number of employees: One part time
Store location:
Sew Simple of Lynchburg is located in Lynchburg, Virginia.  It is in a stand-alone building in a smaller city, in the Mid-Atlantic region.

ofb sew simple 12 row x row

What is the history of your store?
I began as a quilting blogger around 2010, sharing my adventures in free motion quilting and especially with ruler work. Sharing became teaching, often using YouTube, which led to two classes with a popular online platform. I set up an online store to support the classes with rulers and ruler feet. I wanted to grow the small business into something to support our family as my husband’s career became derailed by a bout with cancer. We bought the business of an elderly sewing machine dealer and repairman. We added fabric, threads, classes and moved into our current location just a year later. My husband took to repairing and servicing machines like a duck to water and machine education continues to be the core of our business. We joke that he knows the guts and I know the glory.
Continue reading Sew Simple of Lynchburg LLC

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Lickety Stitch Quilts

lickety stitch front door a

Shop: Lickety Stitch Quilts
Address: 206 S. Main Street, Lusk, WY 82225
Phone: 307-334-9963
Owner:  Karen Wisseman
Employees: 1 full time employee and 2 part- time employees
Website: www.licketystitchquilts.com
Facebook: Lickety Stitch Quilts

Services Offered: We are a full-service quilt shop with fabric, notions, patterns, books, classes, and provide machine quilting services. We have been in business for 8 years.

lickety stitch displayl

Lickety Stitch Quilts opened in March of 2010.  My life-long love for fabric, sewing and quilting was all I had going for me as my education and background were in nursing, and I had worked as a legal assistant but I had no experience in retail.  I was pretty much totally ignorant about owning or running a retail business when I opened my shop. Plus Lusk is in the least populated state – Wyoming – and in the least populated county in Wyoming. So really I didn’t have a lot going for me!  I purchased the remaining inventory of a store that closed about 90 miles from Lusk.  My husband and I purchased an old restaurant on Main Street and remodeled the place into a quilt shop.  Highway 85 goes past our door, and it has been our salvation!  Our local population is very supportive of our store, but it is limited at best – and we could not survive on the local business alone.  We added a website for internet sales a couple years after opening, which slowly grew and gave us one more income source. I also offered machine quilting services from the beginning, another welcome and necessary service to the local quilting community. Continue reading Lickety Stitch Quilts

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Thank You from AQR

AQR Digital IssueAs 2018 comes to a close, we can’t thank you enough for such a great year.

2018 was a big one for us, with the continued release of our digital magazine, more work on videos, and two quilt markets all while juggling the life of a small business owner.

With the craziness of the holidays it can be hard to get away and find some time for yourself. But try to take some time to reflect on your year.

What good things happened? What happened that you would change? What changes did you make that worked? What are you most excited about in the future? AQR Heidi

American Quilt Retailer knows we couldn’t do what we love without you, so thank you for being such loyal followers. We have excited things in store for 2019 and hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it.

Happy holidays and we wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019!


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