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