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Meet Back Door Quilts

Store name: The Back Door, Inc, DBA Back Door Quilts

Linda (left) and Teri in the front of the shop

Owners: Linda Hale and Teri Dougherty
Store location: 2503 Fairview Rd, Greenwood, IN 46142
Phone: (317) 882-2120

Greenwood is a suburb of Indianapolis, and we are located in a strip mall

Region of the country: North East Central. Midwest
Years in business:  46 in May 2019
Types of special services offered: Longarm Quilting, plus the usual quilt shop expertise on all things creative!

Number of employees:  19 including the two owners, mostly part time, plus Club Hostesses and teachers

Website: www.backdoorquilts.com
Facebook: backdoorquilts
Instagram: @backdoorquilts

Forty-five years is a long time to be in business! Can you give us a history of your store?  Linda lived in a neighborhood where the women would get together and do crafts.  They kept wanting her to teach them how to do things, so she started the shop in her basement with two other neighbors.  She would tell them to come to the back door, since her babies were sleeping.  After just a few months, they moved to a storefront, which was expanded several times.  The shop moved to the present location 30 years ago, and has expanded several times again.  Linda’s partners have changed as their life circumstances have changed, and her present partner, Teri, has worked at the shop for 36 years, becoming a partner 25 years ago.

How has the store evolved and changed in order to continuously stay fresh and current?  Linda was once told to watch the trends, get into the latest and get out before it became old and stale.  She has a particularly good sense of what works for us!

How do the partners split up the duties? Linda is the creative visionary force behind the shop.  She stitches and makes samples and works tirelessly to make the shop the very best it can be, one that she would love to visit.  Teri takes care of the class schedule, weekly e-mailing, and social media.  She also helps with samples, kitting, and whatever needs to be done.

You have an extensive education program. How do you decide what classes to put on your schedule? Who teaches your classes?  Most of our teachers also work at the shop.  They have a good feel for what kinds of classes the customers want.  Our best filling classes are the Beginning Quitlmaking Class and the Beginning Machine Embroidery Class.  Other popular classes include monthly bag making classes.

With the amount of shows you do, how do you keep organized so you have the correct merchandise and can get set up and taken down easily? Any tips for others who do shows?  We have a show inventory list that changes a little with each show, depending on the duration, location, and what other vendors are there.  A couple weeks before, we see what we have in the shop and what we need to order, and make notes of what has been ordered.  As we are packing, we note the number of each item we are taking, and at the end of the show, use another color to note what we have  left.  We don’t have a POS, so this works for us!

Standing at the cutting table, you see a beautiful section of batiks (we have 1000!).

What are the store successes you’re most proud of? We were really pleased to be included in the Quilt Sampler in the Spring of 2005.  We also love hearing new customers (and their husbands!) say what a nice shop we have.  We have had visitors from all over the world!

Hand Embroidery Section

What has been the most surprising part of owning a store?  After all these years, it is still fun to get up and go to work every day!  The customers have become friends, our staff are our family, and there’s something new every day.

Once you’ve exhausted the opportunities for a sample, what do you do with it? Do you create your samples to be timeless?  Some of our samples belong to the sample maker and go back to them once we’re done with them.  We usually have a sample sale before Thanksgiving and weed out samples that are no longer selling patterns and fabric.  We usually make our samples to be timeless, like using batiks that are easily substituted to keep a sample relevant for a long time.  If we use a specific fabric line, we make an easy sample that can be completed quickly.

Our best example is the Glad Creations pattern Summer Romance.  It showed up in several pictures in Quilt Sampler 2005, and was one of our most popular patterns for several years.  Batiks got brighter and clearer over the years, and we made an “anniversary” version in 2015 with brighter batiks.  Recently a customer said she had never seen it before—she thought it was brand new!

Wool supplies are a large portion of your inventory. Do you still find that area going strong? Do you buy your wool from individual dyers or rely on distributors? It’s hard for us to buy wool over the internet.  We buy some basics from fabric companies, like B. Black or Marcus or Moda, but often pick out wool for specific projects at shows from vendors like One Wing Wool and Blackberry Primitives.  Occasionally Teri will cook a batch of wool to tone down the color, and she washes all the basic wools at home.

Wool Department

Where do you do the work of the business? Is there an office in the store or off site?  Linda’s husband Jim does all our bookkeeping in his home office.  Teri does almost all the other business from her phone!

With a busy store, how do you balance your life?   We both work Monday-Saturday but there are other employees there as well.  We try to leave around 3 or so every day, spend lots of time with our grandchildren (who sometimes come to visit), and use our travel time to shows to discuss new projects and the directions in which we want to go.

What are your biggest frustrations as a business owner?  Having people come in the shop or to classes/clubs and brag about their cheaper purchases.

What does a customer see first when they come into your store?  Our Christmas Tree that changes with the seasons, and lots and lots of quilts!

Here’s our seasonal tree as you enter the shop, and a view to the back of the shop.

How have you created and maintained a store community? We have lots of different Club meetings, and often invite new customers to come and try a meeting to see if they like it.  It’s a blessing to see the friendships that have formed in the Clubs, and on our First Saturday events.

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Meet Apron Strings Quilt Shop

Apron Strings Quilt Shop
Located in historic downtown Maysville, Kentucky, Apron Strings Quilt Shop is a 2017 Better Homes & Gardens Quilt Sampler Featured Shop. In 2013, Apron Strings relocated their shop to Maysville, a traditional small town “river town” with a charming historic downtown area.

Shop Owner: Mary Honaker
Address and phone number: 52 West 2nd Street, Maysville, KY 41056 (606)584.7414
Region of the country: Southeast Central USA
Years in business: We have been open 12 years, as of July 2019.
Types of special services offered:
We sell quilting fabric and notions in a happy friendly environment. We also offer a small selection of Janome sewing machines and provide longarm quilting services, too.
Number of employees: ASQS has one almost full time and four part time employees, in addition to myself.
Social media info: We are active on Facebook and Instagram. We have a twitter account, but frankly, I use too many words to tweet!
Website: www.apronstringsquiltshop.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ApronStringsQuiltShop
Instagram: instagram.com/ApronStringsQuiltShop
Twitter: twitter.com/HappyQuiltShop

How wide of an area does your store draw customers from?
With a geographic location so relatively close to Cincinnati, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky we regularly draw customers from both of those regions. Much like our local folks will take a trip to “the city” to buy fabric at some of the great shops in the Cincinnati area or the Lexington area, those folks come to visit us too. Part of the fun is the journey, right?

Do you find your proximity to Paducah is an asset or a distraction? We are still more than five hours from Paducah, so it doesn’t really impact us on a regular basis. When we are nearing the spring show, however, many of our regional folks that go to Paducah will start saving their fun money to take to the show, so we won’t see them as often. Many times they come back and show me the great stuff they bought at the show … that we also have on our shelves. Again, part of the fun is the journey.

How did you choose the colors for the interior of your store? I’ve always been a “blue” girl, but a chance encounter with aqua at a gift shop several years ago led me to my love affair with Tantalizing Teal from Sherwin Williams that is going strong after seven years. Even my daily travel mug and computer cover are nearly the exact color of my shop walls! (Sometimes, my mug “disappears” into the aqua abyss!)

What do you find are some ongoing challenges you need to deal with regularly? When we first started renting our current space, the original family that owned our building was still in possession of it. Although it was for sale, there hadn’t even been any legitimate offer made on the space in over seven years. It had been basically storage for some building supplies and other things. After getting it all cleaned up and painted, we had been open exactly six months (to the day) when someone came in and fell in love with our building. By some amazing stroke of luck, that deal didn’t happen, but shortly thereafter, the building sold. The original family was gracious enough to include us as part of the conditions of their transaction. We were to remain in the space for two years without any type of rent increase. About six months after our two years had passed, the second owner decided he was going to put the building up for sale, so we had to go through that agonizing experience again. We were fortunate enough to sign another two-year lease that was agreed upon by the purchaser. Thankfully, the current owner is remodeling an adjacent space in our building for his own offices.

Although we are going through some demolition and re-construction side effects, I think we will be all the better for having someone with a vested interest in building maintenance occupying the same building. He has also expressed that they have no interest in the shop leaving.

Otherwise, my ongoing challenges are the same as I’m sure we all face. How do we stay relevant? How do we continue to appeal to new quilters, while keeping our more experienced customers challenged? More recently my challenge has been with balancing work and family life. My mother is aging, so I want to make sure I’m available for her. I also feel like while working to grow our business, I’ve become less and less available for maintaining friend relationships that are outside of the industry. I’ve been making more of a concerted effort to devote some time for relationships outside of the shop.

You create a lot of kits for your store. What are some of the components you feel are important in including in them? Most importantly, I want to ensure that everything that is supposed to be in our kit is in our kit. I also want a kit to make life EASIER for our customers. They shouldn’t have to figure out what we used where. Labeling all of the components helps to ensure a good experience. Frankly, it’s a LOT of extra work. Sometimes I jokingly think that this would be a great service to provide to other shops.

Which social media platforms do you use the most and how have you trained your customers to look there first? I use Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is still the most used platform, although I feel like there was some sort of step away (in general) from Facebook for a lot of people. I believe it was prompted by too much political drama but many people have enjoyed the departure and didn’t come back. I still see more interaction from actual customers (both near and far) from Facebook than with IG.

What are the store successes you’re most proud of? I feel like our shop still has miles to go but just the fact that we’ve been able to reach some of the milestones we have never fails to amaze me. When you consider that I opened a quilt shop in 2007 and didn’t sew a stitch at that time to being able to sustain nearly 12 years of business, while gaining a loyal brick and mortar customer base and a small but growing online customer base, is truly humbling. We’ve been able to garner some national press both in print and online, and each time I question whether they meant to contact us. I was brought up to not talk about yourself, so it’s been difficult at times to realize that when I’m promoting the shop, I’m not bragging about me. The work that my staff and I have put into the shop has created an environment that people want to experience. That’s a pretty cool thing! If I’m not willing to shout that from the roof tops, then who will?

How has your store evolved since your first day? We met with our very first industry rep in early 2007. I asked Kim Polson (Moda) “so do you think 50 bolts will be enough to open a quilt shop?” She looked me squarely in the eyes and said “no” in a very sisterly kind of way. She was so informative, supportive, and honest. I knew from that moment that she was my go-to gal when I needed information that wasn’t sugar coated. She is forever entwined in our quilt shop story. When we moved our shop to Maysville we got another great Moda rep, Mark Pytel. It took me a while to get past being required to change reps. Mark is also an important part of our story with his ability to connect the dots and present opportunities that we might have otherwise missed.

Speaking of change, our first six years in Flemingsburg we were a very small very traditional shop. It was supportive of what the ladies in the area were interested in using to create their beautiful quilts. We decided to move the shop from the small rural community of Flemingsburg, Kentucky just a short drive away to Maysville, Kentucky. Many of the core customer group that had supported us originally in Flemingsburg had stopped sewing as often. Some had stopped sewing at all. I decided that if we were going to close, I wanted to know that I had done everything that I could to make the shop work. This meant trusting my own instincts in ordering, presentation, displays, and customer service. It also meant I needed to be present much more than working full time had allowed me to be. I quit my full-time job as a high school video production teacher, moved the shop to a bigger location, and became the full time shop owner/operator.

Although we still have traditional fabrics represented, I focused my ordering on two words: Bright & Happy. Things that made me smile to look at. Fabrics that would attract new sewists. Prints that were modern-ish, but not in a way that were too far out of the box for our customer base. We ramped up our pre-cut selection. We created an atmosphere where you are welcomed, and hopefully inspired. We painted our walls aqua with a splash of lime green on the upper level. We made sure our kits were never just thrown together in a bag. We revamped our logo. We created classes and events that catered to folks that were beginners, new mothers, new grandmothers, teenagers, retirees, or anyone else that wanted success and a tribe of people to be their cheering squad.

We hired employees that were younger and have different ways of thinking so we could see things from a different perspective on not only fabric, but also social issues. We don’t always agree, but it’s okay. (For the record, matters of religion, politics, societal injustices, etc. aren’t discussed by staff around customers.) My point is that I have a different view on some of these issues than the amazing ladies that are older than I am who operated the shop while I worked full time. The girls who are younger have different viewpoints than I do. We can all learn from each other and hopefully be able to assist all our customers from a place of greater understanding …  that even if we don’t agree about everything, we can still create and supportively coexist in this space.

What has been the most surprising part of owning a store? There is NEVER a moment where you can safely feel like you’ve reached your goals. There’s always something else to learn. Something else to achieve. Something else to dust. Because of that, you’ve got to do your best and know that it’s okay if it doesn’t all happen today.

Do you take business classes, either online or locally? I had a few business classes in college but this shop wasn’t even a “what-if” at that point in time. I do read a lot of blogs, business magazines, etc. but I’ve not had any real training of any ongoing nature. (Wait – does learning from your mistakes count?)

Do you bring in designers as teachers for special events? How far in advance do you plan these? Do you have some tips? A few years ago, we took over the planning for our regional quilt show. Since that time we have brought in at least one nationally known “sew-lebrity” to teach and lecture at that event. The best case scenario is to start planning for the next event right after the last event is over. That’s not always practical if you are wearing a lot of hats. I guess my best piece of advice is to have a plan B, and also a plan C … and then be willing to roll with the changes while everything that you’ve planned on falls apart. It will fall back together. Hopefully, the grace you’ve extended to someone else will be returned to you when you need it. And trust me – you will need it.

What jobs do you expect employees to do and which do you do yourself? How do you delegate the work? I expect everyone to be able to assist customers. Everyone should be cleaning when something needs done. Otherwise, myself and one other employee handle the website/point of sale input. That employee also does most of our longarm quilting. The two ladies that ran the shop while I worked take care of most of our sample creation now. They also come back in for special events like shop hops or quilt show week. I’m horrible at delegating, so I’ve been fortunate that on MOST days, things fall into a groove and we all find the space we are needed for most.

What kind of store security precautions do you take? We have two sets of security cameras. One that is just on while we are gone, and one that runs all the time. Both can be viewed remotely. We are in a relatively safe area, so there are probably some security issues that I should have a plan for that I naively haven’t addressed yet.

When you have a day off, what do you typically do? Who manages the store when you’re out? I’d love to say I sleep in and then watch tv or read a book. However, at some point I lost the ability to sleep in. I miss it! I typically will cook a great comfort food kind of meal. You know – the kind you can’t pull off in an hour after work. Laundry is also always on the agenda. I get the biggest sense of satisfaction for the 20 minutes that my laundry is absolutely completely finished.

Do you have a hobby that isn’t sewing related? Aerosmith. Weird hobby, I know. I’ve been an obsessed fan since I was 12. I’ve seen them 50 plus times in concert. We have shop posts on band members birthdays. Sometimes, we have cake at the shop to share with customers! I know it’s not professional, but it’s who I am. Our RowByRow was Steven Tyler’s Mic Stand.

What do you want your customers to feel when they come in the store? I want them to feel like they can do it! I want them to feel happy, and to feel comfortable. I most of all want them to feel inspired.

QT FabricsThank you to our Open for Business sponsor
QT Fabrics for making this feature possible.

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Meet Back Porch Fabrics

Back Porch Fabrics
Store name:
Back Porch Fabrics
Store owner: Gail Abeloe
Address and phone number: 157 Grand Ave, Pacific Grove, CA  93950; (831) 375-4453
Region of the country: California West Pacific
Years in business: 23
Website: http://www.backporchfabrics.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Back-Porch-Fabric

Back Porch Fabrics is located in an old warehouse which has been renovated and updated for retail use. The warm, pine flooring, rough textured walls and high ceilings with massive support beams provide a wonderful backdrop for the colorful fabrics and quilts that fill the store. It is a full-service quilt store located on the Monterey Peninsula of central California. The shop has been in Quilt Sampler, 2003 and an Encore Shop, 2011.

How has your store evolved since your first day?
We are celebrating 23 years in business. Lots of changes have occurred in the quilting industry over time, however, we are still playing with fabric and having lots of fun. We sell inspiration by the yard! Running a quilt shop is like having a party every day but you don’t know who will be coming in and what they will bring to show us.

What are the store successes you’re most proud of?
My favorite part of owing a quilt shop is the constant new ideas for what can be done with fabric. I enjoy attending Quilt Market twice a year. I’m always looking for creative ways to sew with fabric and I usually find lots of books and patterns at Quilt Market. We stock and sell over 400 book titles.

How have you created a quilting community through your store?
Since we are located on the Monterey Peninsula in California between Monterey and Pebble Beach/Carmel, we get lots of quilters from all over the world. Our local quilters are very loyal customers and put on a quilt show each year two blocks from our shop. I always do a special on-going demonstration at our shop for customers attending the quilt show.

The Empty Spools Seminars are held at Asilomar, one mile from our shop. We run a shuttle bus after classes to our shop. Each of the five sessions has over 150 happy quilters who spend the entire week with one teacher.  I have learned a lot about choosing fabric to sell from the wonderful teachers and their students at Empty Spools. In 2014, I got to be Artist in Residence and spent the whole week creating a different quilt top each day from left-overs from different projects.

I have also attended Empty Spools many times. Last year I took Kathy Doughty’s 60-degree shape class exploring triangles, diamonds and hexagons.

How do you manage classes and teachers?
Twelve super employees work part-time at Back Porch Fabrics. Some of them also teach classes in addition to four local teachers. Our local quilt guild brings in national teachers.

Every month, Back Porch Fabric has a demo day. There is a Free quilt pattern and the demo shoes how to sew the pattern. There are two sessions and door prizes at both sessions, as well as show and tell. Customers just show up and enjoy the fun! When they attend four demos and bring back three projects made with Back Porch fabrics, they earn a gift certificate for a free class!

Download the Saturday Demo information HERE!

Can you explain what your Quilt Gallery is about?
Our classroom also serves as a Quilt Gallery. We always have a quilt show on display. We usually feature talented local artists, and occasionally feature quilters with a national reputation. The large walls and high ceilings in our gallery accommodate even the largest quilts. We do six shows a year. Usually the show is local quilters, but we have also had several shows of work by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. Del Thomas (who owns many of Ruth B. McDowell’s quilts) will be showing quilts from her Contemporary Quilt Collection again this year. We just hung the quilt show. Our website hows current and future shows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to our Open for Business sponsor
QT Fabrics for making this feature possible.

 

 

 

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Meet Quilted Ceiling

Store name: Quilted Ceiling
Who owns the store: Steven and Mary Lee Nielson.
Address and phone number: 316 Central Ave. N, Valley City, ND; 701-845-4926
Years in business: Quilted Ceiling opened its doors November 4, 2005 – 14 years in 2019.
Number of employees: The store employs one full time woman (manager/buyer), five part-time women and also have five ladies who will fill in when needed

All social media info:
Website:
quiltedceiling.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/QuiltedCeiling — Facebook is used to show new items in the store as well as new finished quilts, or other happenings in the store.
Email: info@quiltedceiling.com

We send out an email newsletter with dates of classes and other special events.  A copy is available on our web site.

Types of special services offered: Quilted Ceiling has a web store that showcases all the fabric including, jelly rolls, charms and layer cakes.  Bridal couples are also listed on the web site with the date of the wedding and a listing with pictures of what they registered for.

Where did the name for your store come from? Our unique name came from one of our employees who said we should have quilt squares on the ceiling and call the store Quilted Ceiling.  We had 50+ people helping us paint the ceiling panels.  Each one has a different quilting pattern. A teacher brought her class of first graders and did the actual name and decorated the letters for the panels above the door when you come in.  This brought a lot of buy-in for the store as the artists brought in their families to show them their quilting square on the ceiling.

 

What do customers see first when they come into your store? When you first come into the store you are greeted across the room by beautiful sample quilts hanging from the ceiling.  As you gaze downward you will see a display of gift items.  Walking towards the back you will see rows of fabric and several walls filled with notions.  In the summer we get quite a few tourists and ask them to sign our guest book by the door.  It is so surprising to see where they all come from.  We are also supported by our local community and smaller towns around Valley City.

How do you delegate the workload among your employees? The work load is shared by all who work here.  Each employee is in charge of cutting at least one block of the month and they each have to be in charge of ordering for a category in the store.   One gal orders all the notions each week, one orders for the kitchen area, one does all the books and patterns, manager does all the giftware ordering and fabric ordering and so on.

From your social media: “Just a warning, you may laugh a lot if you come in. We have a lot of quick wits around here!”  Does your staff get along well? Many say Quilted Ceiling is the happiest store in town.  I don’t know about that but we all seem to have a good time and get along well.  One customer has said many times “if you ever need a volunteer just let me know, I love this happy place!”

How do you select teachers for your classes? Teachers are usually hard to find but we have been fortunate to have some of our employees also teach classes.  We also have about six ladies that do samples for us and some also teach classes.  We have had several teachers come in and show their new patterns and teach the technique used in their patterns.  At the present time we haven’t been doing a lot of classes as it seems it is getting harder and harder to fill the classes.

What are some of the ways your community shows support for your store? We are lucky to have three long arm quilters in our area and are happy to have their customers drop off quilts to be quilted and then pick them up when finished.  We have a list of sewers who will do alterations and give out their business cards for those in need.  We have a group of ladies who come every morning and afternoon for coffee in our break room and the best part is quite often they bring treats.  Not too long ago there were 17 ladies in our small break room, some standing and some sitting. Word of mouth is our most effective advertising.  We wouldn’t exist if quilters didn’t talk to each other!  It is amazing when folks from other states come in because they heard about us from other quilters.

How does your shop hop work? We have been in several shop hops over the years and each one has their own way of doing things.  The shop hop we will be part of this April will have around eight shops in it.  Customers draw for a 10, 15 or 20 per cent discount on their purchase, we stamp their pass port and usually give them a recipe for the treat we are serving.  We also give them a free pattern for the block our store created and show them the finished block made up.  We have kits made up for sale for those who want their block to look like ours.  Each store makes up a block and if the customer goes to each store they will have eight free block patterns for a quilt.  Those customers who have gone to all eight shops and had their passport stamped at each store turns it in at the last store.  Shop owners meet the week after the hop and throw all finished passports in a basket and draw for 1st prize and 2nd prize.

Your website says you have the largest notions supply in the area. How do you keep up with what’s new with notions as well as keeping your notions area well stocked? We are known for our large selection of notions.  Each week the gal in charge of ordering notions goes through the notions and makes a list of missing notions (this is where inventory tags are a must).  Unless it is something that has been on the wall a very long time she reorders each notion and then she goes through all the new items from each distributor and decides what would be good notions for our customers and adds those to her order.  We have slat wall throughout the store, most of our notions are easy to see and access as they are hanging.

 

 

 

 

What are your biggest frustrations and struggle as a business owner? It is most frustrating to hear a customer say “I didn’t know you were here.”  When we started we were on TV. We are on the local radio station weekly and advertise in the paper.  QC is part of a billboard on the interstate.  We are on FaceBook and have a website.  What more can you do?

How does the gifts area fit into your store? What advice can you give quilt shops who want to add gifts? When you live in a smaller town it is very hard to be a store that only sells on thing.  You have to be diversified.  We have our gift area in the front of the store, which includes an extensive kitchen area, picture frames, religious items, stoneware dishes, Oneida flatware, glassware, candles, jewelry, purses, signs and home décor.  The manager does the gift ordering as well as the fabric ordering.  We use to go to Minneapolis Gift Mart but in the past few years’ reps from different companies call on us and we order from them.  Having the gift area helps to bring in people that aren’t quilters and sometimes they end up buying something that has nothing to do with gifts.  If you are thinking of adding a gift department in your quilt store, I would start out small and see how it goes.  Remember you can’t just order what you like.  It is just like fabric; you have to order somethings that others will like.

Are there certain fabric or pattern designers you typically stock? Quilted Ceiling orders fabric from Wilmington, Moda, Riley Blake, Quilting Treasures, Hoffman, Northcott, RJR, Studio E, Free Spirit, Marcus, Shannon, Windham, Benartex, etc.  Right now Kimberbell seems to be the patterns of choice.

Open for Business is brought to you by American Quilt Retailer, a trade publication for independent quilt shop owners, and sponsored by QT Fabrics.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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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Bolt Quilt Shop

pat at doorShop Name: Bolt Quilt Shop
Owner: Patty Rowley
Address: 12 Main St, Cornish, Maine 04020
Phone: 207-625-4255
Located in the center of a small historic town in Western Maine- 10 miles from the NH border

Website: boltfabricsmaine.com
Facebook: Bolt Fabrics
In business 5 years in August of this year!
No employees
Special Service: Small shop full of Inspiration! Offer classes. Vend at local quilt shows and guild meetings in Maine and New Hampshire

inside of store

How is your store different from other quilting stores near you?
The first thing you notice is how bright and colorful the shop is. I am grateful to have such good natural light! Visitors and customers always comment that I have such a wonderful variety of Fabrics in this small shop! I use vintage singer sewing machines in the shop including a 1910 Red Eye Singer treadle, so there is a unique mix of old and new here.

It’s important to me that when people walk through the door and feel welcome and when they leave they had a good experience and they are inspired (whether they are quilters or not). Music is very important in my life, and there is always music playing in my shop – mostly Vivaldi! Continue reading Bolt Quilt Shop

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Seams Like Home

Open for Business: Seams Like Home

Let us introduce you to this week’s Open for Business featured shop.
Shop: Seams Like Home
Address: 2153 E. 88th Ave., Anchorage, Alaska 99507
Phone: 907-677-8790
Website: www.akseams.com
Instagram: akseamslikehome
Facebook: www.facebook.com/akseams
Owner: Maret Anderson
Services: Fabric, classes, Bernina and Juki dealer, longarm rental and certification, guest teachers
Seams Like Home is located in Anchorage, Alaska (population 300,000) and was established in June of 2002.

Seams like Home: Sunrise
AQR: What does a customer see first when they come into your store? How often does that change?
Seams Like Home: Main Floor
Anderson: When a customer first walks in the door they usually pause and take in the wall of color. With our long Alaskan winters, bright colors are truly an inspiration. We display our new fabrics on rounders with lots of signage and samples. Our displays are constantly changing and we rearrange the fabrics often.

Seams Like Home has a unique variety of classes ranging from hand embroidery to machine software and everything in between, so we have samples everywhere. The main room is filled with our fabrics and we have a side area that focuses on sewing machines. We are a Bernina and Juki Dealer and offer certification classes where customers can be trained to use the Bernina Q24 long-arm, and then rent the machine to quilt their own projects. We have two Bernina Q24 long-arms set up. My daughter, Enjoli, is the owner of her own business, Doodle Quilting Studio, and she teaches the long-arm classes, does private quilting as well as quilting the shop samples. Continue reading Seams Like Home

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M&E Quilt Shop

Open for Business: M & E Quilt Shop

Let us Introduce You to This Week’s Open for Business Featured Shop

Shop: M&E Quilt Shoppe
Address: 279 E. Market Street, Sandusky, OH 44870
Phone: 419-502-9123
Owners: Debbie Neill & Jackie Sennish aka Mabel & Ethel
Website: mequiltshoppe.com
Instagram: mequiltshoppe
Facebook: mequiltshoppe
Special Service: You’ll leave our shop with a smile on your face laughing!
Located in a historical 1884 stand alone building in our downtown. Established in February 2014

Mabel and Ethel of M&E Quilt ShoppeAQR: What does a customer see first when they come into your store? How often does that change?

M&E Quilt Shoppe: View to the right of the front doorM&E: When you first enter M&E you are greeted with the newest fabric collection that has come into the shop.  This changes 1-2 times a month based on the number of bolts received.  Our store is small and open so you really do see everything upon entering the front door.  Our displays pieces are unique (the majority having been found on the side of the road) so a customer really has to stroll around the shop several times to see everything we have to offer.  Since we are so small we cannot really move display pieces but we do move fabrics around quite often as well as change out the quilts on the walls as samples are made.  It always surprises us when we move fabric we have had a while and customers all of a sudden think it is new to the shop. Continue reading M&E Quilt Shop