Store name: Quilter’s Cupboard
Owner: Cindy Peters
Store Location: 706 SW 3rd Ankeny, Iowa (We are located in a old house in Uptown Ankeny.)
Region of the country: Midwest: Northern Central
Years in business: 10
Number of employees: 7
Types of special services offered: Quilting fabrics, patterns, and notion, Babylock sewing machines, as well as classes and clubs.
What does a customer see first when they come into your store? Lots of samples, bright colors and inspiration. It’s extremely important to me that each customer is chatted with soon after they come in. Because we are in an old house, I feel like they are coming into my home and I want them to feel welcome!
How has the All Iowa Shop Hop (Link to: https://alliowashophop.com/) added to the success of your store?
The All Iowa Shop Hop has been a great way to get new customers into the store. I create an exclusive Barn Block each June that we introduce June 1 and also roll out exclusive patterns for Shop Hop fabric to set us apart from the other stores. We have so many hoppers that come back to see us every year because they’ve enjoyed the experience they had with us and bring their friends. It’s just a lot of fun but a lot of work!
You do great videos on your Facebook page. What are some of the things you do?
I’ve been doing “What’s in the Box Wednesday” video every Wednesday for the past two years. Whatever freight comes in that day we open and show to our customers. It’s always a one-take video so sometimes it gets a little out of hand but it’s always entertaining (not always on purpose!)
What kind of return do you see in your store because of the videos? The videos have grown to have quite a following and it has been a great way for customers to see our new products. They are enthusiastic and call or stop by right away to get the new goodies. It has become an excellent way to reach our customers, both local and out of town and has definitely increased our business.
Any tips for shops who are thinking about trying their own videos? Make them fun and fairly short. Have a set day so your customers have something to look forward to. Not everyone does Facebook so we upload them to our website besides posting them.
How do you manage the number of classes and teachers you have? I love to teach so do the majority of classes myself. I like to fill the calendar so we have something going almost every night. Not all the classes will be go, we have a minimum of four students, but by offering a wide selection we can appeal to a large audience. For the first time I did a video showing all of our upcoming classes for July – Sept. That has helped our signups and increased sales because even if the class time didn’t work they still came and got supplies to make it on their own.
Which do you find have better attendance – your clubs or your classes? Our clubs like Machine Embroidery Club, Accuquilt Club and our new Sew Kitchy Club do very well. Our customers like a reason to meet each month and we love to teach new techniques and show new products. Classes are great to teach a new skill or technique. We do well with both and I enjoy teaching both!
What are some ways you’ve created a store community? Having our clubs, classes and events is a huge way that we’ve created a feeling of belonging to many of our customers. Our What’s in the Box Wednesday makes both our local and out of town customers feel they are special. Being a part of a special experience, like our online Mini Mysteries has had a big impact on the feeling of being part of something.
Which do you feel sell faster in your online store – kits or fabric? We are still tweaking our online store and need to focus more attention on promoting it. Kits and patterns would be our biggest sellers, especially our exclusive products.
What are the store successes you’re most proud of? The growth of our Babylock sewing machine and Accuquilt sales. Customers trust us to teach and support these products. They know we know our stuff and can call for help with anything. I’m also proud that my store is not just a store but a place where my customers who are now friends can come for a little relief from real life. Giving them inspiration, personal attention and really listening to them makes me feel good.
How has your store evolved since your first day? I purchased an existing store that I had managed but it didn’t have my personality. Over the years have changed the feel to lighter and brighter. I really think samples sell and we have tons (maybe too many!) of inspiration all over the walls and now the ceilings.
What has been the most surprising part of owning a store? Developing such close relationships with my customers. I owned a fabric store in California for 20 years before moving to Iowa so I already knew what hard work it would be to do it again, but the friendships I’ve developed have made it so much more fun.
What jobs do you expect employees to do and which do you do yourself? I tend to do too much myself but my employees are great with the everyday chores and taking great care of our customers. I love the creative and coming up with new ideas for events and promotions. Sometimes I overwhelm them with all my ideas!
When you take you take time off, what do you do? I don’t take a lot of time off but when I do it’s to work on sewing projects for the store. I also have a 6 month old first grandchild so babysitting is my new job on my day off! He’s so cute, it’s not really hard work!
Do you have a hobby that isn’t sewing related? I do not. There is nothing I’d rather do than sew!
Fill in the blank: My life would be perfect if only I could find — someone to help create my emails, class supply lists and all the things that I put too much effort into . If I could do everything as a video life would be great!