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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!


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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End of Year Tax Tips

As 2018 comes to a close, there are many things we would rather use the remainder of our time with other thinking about taxes. But the changes you make now can help keep the cash flowing come tax season. Check out these tips to help your small business.

  1. Find out if your business qualifies for different treatment. The next time you meet with your tax specialist, check if your status is pass-through and if you can switch to C-corporation. New laws decrease income tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent for all C-corporations, but be sure to ask an expert if the switch makes sense.
  2. Pay your taxes throughout the year. Ask your tax specialist if you can pay taxes at quarterly estimates in 2019 instead of in one lump sum.
  3. Think about retirement. Contributions you make to you or your employee’s plans can be tax deductible. Check with your specialist to see if opening a new retirement plan counts too.
  4. Buy some equipment. This includes both new and used, and equipment bought after September of this year can be listed with 100% depreciation.
  5. Defer revenue. Wait until the end of the month to do billing or wait to get some services until January. On the flip side, if you have events or things you need to buy in January, consider purchasing them early.
  6. Give to a charity. Tis the season for giving, so why not get two birds with one stone and not only give back to your community, but help make your taxes more manageable.

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Hopefully 2018 has been a more prosperous year than the last, and gives you the problem to worry about what your taxes are going to look like. Regardless of your financial standings, these tax tips can help all businesses manage their bottom line.


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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Pantone Color of the Year

coral reef.jpgIf you haven’t already heard the news, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019 is Living Coral.

Pantone has released the Color of the Year every December for the past 20 years. The color is supposed to reflect both trends in design and in our culture.

Living Coral is a shade of orange with gold undertones, and is supposed to be reminiscent of the coral reef. The coral reef acts as a water filtration system and gives shelter to a vast range of sea life.

Pantone said paying attention to the environment and our roles in it has become even more prevalent in today’s society. Living Coral evokes energy, something the environment needs as it’s natural resources continue to be depleted.

According to Pantone, Living Coral creates an “innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits” and “authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy.”

This is Pantone’s way of saying our culture needs to spend more time unplugged and start living in the moment. Living Coral is supposed to evoke a sense of togetherness that technology lacks and can even take away from our lives.

Living Coral has already made it’s debut on the runway and in make up pallets, and you can expect social media influencers to start using the color more too. Living Coral can already be found on beach themed attire and spring pastels.

The pink-orange hue follows last year’s Color of the Year Ultra Violet, a color that many thought honored the late musician Prince and was a nod to politicians working together.


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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‘Tis the Season

Make sure your store is the place to shop for quilt related gifts this holiday season. Check out this quilter’s buying guide for ideas on what to add to your store.

  • Travel steam iron. Not only is the quilter in your life going to love this gift, but you’ll stay well within budget with this item costing just $20.00.
  • Foldaway cutting mat. Whether you quilt on the go or occasionally at home, storing this foldaway mat won’t be a problem (and is the best part about this gift).
  • Quilt organizer. This gift is going to take a little bit of intel to know what exactly your recipient would use the most. Do some investigating to find out what your loved one is wanting or what they already use.
  • Quilt caddy. Organizing is the name of the game this holiday season, if you’ve got room to splurge package this gift with the quilt organizer to make your quilter’s day.
  • Thread. A classic gift never goes out of style and is guaranteed to be something they use (and need).
  • Quilt starter set. Definitely targeted to the younger crowd, this gift is to inspire children and grandchildren to get in with mom and grandma on all the fun.
  • Mini quilt kit. Give an easy project to keep your loved one busy this winter with a kit to make a mini quilt. If the quilter wants to share the love they could easily regift this mini quilt, too.
  • Rotating cutting mat. Long time quilters will have no idea this is what they’ve always been needing, surprise them with this new take on a conventional tool.

Figuring out what the best gift to give someone can be one of the hardest decisions around the holidays. Make sure your store helps to make the process easier for customers.


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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Sales, Sales, Sales

Flash saleWith the close of small business Saturday and cyber Monday, hopefully your sales (both online and in store) exceeded your expectations. Have no fear if they didn’t; check out the below to see what you can do from now until January 1st.

  • Shoppers always want to think they’re getting a discount, so play into that. The two that work best for small businesses include the bundle sale and the two-fer sale. The two-fer sale sounds like it’s buy one get one free, but really it’s buy two items for one price. Since you know the bottom line, it’s easier to make sure you’re getting your profit.
  • Give something away for free. Food and drink go a long way around the holidays, so bake those Christmas cookies and stew up some hot chocolate because free means more customers.
  • Coupons, coupons, coupons. Send coupons via email to your customer base, and post coupon codes on your social media. To make your most loyal customers feel appreciated, send them an exclusive offer, whether that be an event or an even better sale. Don’t shy away from having online-only coupons too.
  • Going off the exclusivity, only stock your shelves with a couple items. When the customer grabs both, they’ll think it was a sign that they came in to shop that day. If you have an option to book appointments on your website, show limited availability. As those times fill up, open up others to make sure your schedule stays full. Being elusive is in.
  • Time is money. Since you’re already sending email blasts and being active on social media, post about certain deals that last only one day or even one hour. This sense of urgency will create the extra push some customers need to get off the couch and in your store.
  • Tis the season, some of these flash deals can have a charitable component to them. Spread holiday cheer by donating some of the proceeds to charity to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

Hopefully these tips will make you ready to enter the New Year with new goals and no regrets left in 2018.


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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All About Video

Continuing with our theme of online stores, this week we’re going to highlight content for video.

For many of you video can be a scary word, but we’ll show you just how easy it can be.

With the close of the 2018 fall Quilt Market in Houston, we came back inspired by all of the businesses and products the industry has to offer.

  1. Check out this video from Brooklyn Haberdashery. This first-time market attendee highlighted this year’s hottest products.
  2. This next video promotes a new tool with a little bit of flare. Pay attention to the detail she’s able to describe that really helps viewers get to know the product. The tutorial is a plus too.
  3. This last video may be short and sweet, but it highlights one product that was the star of the show.

*All of these videos can also be viewed in our digital version of the Fall 2018 Quilt Market Recap Issue

The one thing all of these videos had in common were they knew what products they wanted to highlight. Think about the tools that excite you, then make a video about why your customers should purchase one.

Also note the video quality wasn’t top notch, but all of the videos were interesting. The background noise doesn’t have to be completely silent, and it’s okay to stumble on some words along the way.

Of course, practice makes perfect, so feel free to practice a few times before taping. As long as the display looks great and you have everything you need prepared if you’re doing a demonstration, think about the video as if you were talking to a customer.

The more you try the more comfortable you will become. Take advantage of the holidays to tackle two birds with one stone; promote your products and dip your toes into promoting them through video.


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Customers, online shopping, and you

online storeYou put in all the time and effort to create an online store, but now what?

The next logical step is to get customers to use it. Like anything new, that’s not easy to do. Check out these steps to help drive consumers to your website.

  1. Pay for it. I know, those three words were probably what you were trying to avoid, but you have to spend money to make money. Google AdWords is the best way to see your money well spent, and making this move will almost guarantee increased traffic to your website. Plus, the only time you have to pay for your advertisement is when someone clicks on it.
  2. Quality content, across multiple platforms. We’ll talk about what platforms are the best to use next, but first we’ll go over what we mean by quality content. Think about the last time you searched a restaurant online and thought, “Wow, I’d eat there!” Note that the images you viewed were the images the business put out. Think about that every time you’re thinking of what you want to post.
  3. Now we’ll cover what platforms you should promote your business on. Since you’re promoting your online store, you should promote your business online. The first way is through the medium you’re reading this—a blog. If you don’t plan on being consistent about posting, then you’re better off sending an email blast to your base.
  4. After you’ve posted some initial information about your new website, then you can start having guest bloggers, or an Instagram takeover, to get to people you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. A local celebrity will likely have a different following and reach even further than you could on your own.
  5. Lastly (dare I say it) you need to make videos. I’m sure you’ve figured out that having an online store isn’t all easy, and now you can add video as one of the reasons. However, video is the king of what people want to see.

Stay posted about what you can do to get people to come to your online store. The industry is always changing and we’re here to help each other’s businesses in any way we can.


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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Holiday Window Display

Can you believe it’s that time of the year again? The holidays will soon be upon us and the spirit is already in the air.

It may seem too early to start planning your holiday window display but by the time Thanksgiving comes it’ll be too late. Here are some window display that really stand out:

  1. Lord & Taylor: Less isn’t more, more is more! With 9,000 feet of garland, foliage, and lights, of course this window display takes the cake. Not to mention the hand carved statues of dancing raccoons and smiling polar bears, kids and adults alike found this display a delight.
  2. Barney’s: Another nod to childhood, this window went with the theme of love, peace, and joy, and we’re able to capture that in three iconic pieces. (What word do you think the featured photo is trying to convey?)Barney's new york
  3. Bloomingdale’s: This display had all of the lights. Visual artists created different chandeliers that were auctioned just before the holidays with the benefits going to charity. Although this display stacked third on the list, it wins in community mindedness. (What a cool idea—how could you include a charitable component into your holiday display?) bloomingdale's
  4. Tiffany & Co.: Simple can still be beautiful. Of course you could expect something like that from Tiffany’s, but keep in mind what brand your store has. If you’re known for going big, it’s okay to keep it that way. Tiffany & Co
  5. Saks Fifth Avenue: Think Candyland meets the Nutcracker, this window display captures the magic of the holidays with its breathtaking, beautiful, and perfectly executed curation. Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 7.28.07 PM

I know our small businesses don’t have near the time nor the resources as these big-name companies do, but I hope this list gets you in the holiday spirit. Happy decorating, and have fun!

*Note: These displays were featured in New York stores in December of 2016. Photos courtesy of Jetsetter.


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Navigating Uncertainty

Owning a small business is a dream come true for most of us. But what happens when uncertainty seeps into that dream?

If you think you’re alone in that feeling, don’t worry—because you’re not.

Uncertainty happens to everyone no matter if they’re living the dream or on their way there. Anytime something becomes comfortable to us, uncertainty will inevitably find it’s way.

So what should you do about it? Essentially, it comes down to two options.

  1. Fear it.
  2. Embrace it.

I won’t even spend time going over the possibilities of fearing uncertainty, because we all know that fear doesn’t lead to productivity.

Embracing uncertainty is easier said than done, but thankfully we were instilled with one tool to combat it; reflection.

Reflecting on the past can help us remember the other times you faced uncertainty in the past and came out for the better.

Reflection can also help to identify uncertainty when it starts to come back. Identifying uncertainty provides a concrete thing to wrap your head around so you can take care of the problem sooner.

Once you have identified uncertainty, then that you can start embracing it. But what does embracing uncertainty look like?

Well, it looks a lot like how a child plays.

Embracing uncertainty releases your inner child, and although the feeling of unfamiliarity may be uncomfortable at first, it is what made us into the people we are today.

Trial and error, trying something and having the world as our playground with infinite things to learn can be more exciting than uncertainty is frightening.

At the end of this process you can go back to doing what you love! Life is a cycle of ups and downs and it’s getting through the downs that make the ups so much better so you can go back to doing (and enjoying) what you love.

If you’re interested in more information on this topic, check out this blog.


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Editor’s Picks

Check out editor of American Quilt Retailer Heidi Kaisand’s favorite self help books.

  1. Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This book easily tops Kaisand’s list, showing you how to work smarter not harder. In essentialism you’ll transform your thinking from ‘I can have everything and do it all’ to ‘things will happen in the right time and the right place.’ essentialism
  2. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. If negative thinking gets in the way, follow these ten steps to transform your thoughts into positive ones. Included with each step are insights from Gordon on how he was able to overcome obstacles. energy bus
  3. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell. Some people are able to connect with others. But as it turns out, anyone can learn how. This book outlines out how to become successful by simply connecting with people. everyone communicates
  4. Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze. Learn how to live your life within your means in this financial self help book. Cruze walks readers through a variety of financial topics including prioritizing, giving, and planning for the future. love your life
  5. Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar. Lisa spends her days writing reviews for POPSUGAR, so you know this is going to be a fun read. Learn how to live your life fabulously while also having time for what’s important to you. power your happy
  6. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. What if you woke up one day and your life was transformed? What does that life look life? The Miracle Morning shows that with just six minutes each morning you can do just that. miracle morning
  7. Uncontainable by Kip Tindell. In 1978, nobody could believe someone would sell an empty box. As it turns out, storage was an entirely untapped industry. Read about The Container Stores’ success story.uncontainable
  8. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Written by the editor of SUCCESS magazine, read tips from someone who’s job is to be successful every single time. compound effect
  9. Traction by Gino Wickman. Tailored specifically to entrepreneurs, this book outlines how to take charge of your business through the Entrepreneurial Operating System. traction

Comment or share with your friends to find out what books have helped them.


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.