American Quilt Retailer: December 2018



As shop owners, we can so easily get caught up in routine tasks like paying the bills, ordering fabric and notions, or even cleaning the bathrooms. We are, of course, jacks of all trades, right? But those things are going to happen for the most part whether we have a plan or not. It may not be the most successful, but things do keep turning.

But how are we thinking forward? How are we thinking outside of the box? How are we solving problems for our customers? It’s that last question that has me pondering many things recently.

For Hen & Chicks Studio, my retail business, what are my customers’ problems? Is it the amount of fabric in their stash, and either helping them use it up or not feel guilty about it? Is it finding the time to be creative? Maybe their problem is not knowing where to start? Or is the problem our store hours and our availability to them? Or do they need a social circle?

  • And what are possible solutions to these problems?
  • Establish a Stash Buster program that allows your customers to use that bulging fabric pile.
  • Create a program to acknowledge or reward their finished quilts/projects.
  • Offer retreats or work sessions to encourage making things, but also allow them the chance to set aside time to work on those projects.
  • Send a survey to our customers in the next newsletter to help identify their needs or wants.
  • Communicate store hours on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels.
  • Develop bag stuffers to include in all outgoing packages to describe store services and classes.
  • Create displays that offer new customers and/or new quilters the opportunity to quickly find patterns, kits, and tools that go together.

Both the list of problems and the list of solutions are just the beginning of a brainstorming session for me. Maybe it will jump-start your thoughts on this, too. I’d like to know more about what you think your customers’ problems are that you need to solve. Write to me at, and let’s talk about how American Quilt Retailer can offer solutions to some of those problems. I’m looking forward to working on this with you.

In Every Issue

  • From the Editor, Connect with AQR Online
  • On the Cover
  • Cash in on Embroidery, Free-to-Use Pattern: Designer Tracy Souza walks you through how to use embroidery in your store to make a pro t. Use the Sweetheart Spring pillow as your next Free-to-Use pattern.

Business Savvy

  • DO Sweat the Small Stuff: It’s all in the details, and life coach Beth Montpas helps us sort those details out.
  • Avoid these 6 Common HR Issues: With guidance from HR specialist Melisa Morrison, you’re sure to steer clear of staffing headaches.
  • Classroom Lessons: Every inch of your store can make money—including your classroom.
  • Listen to Me!: Learn how influencer marketing can get customers’ attention.
  • Deconstructing a Big-Box Store: Retail experts Kizer & Bender consider how independent retailers can learn from larger competitors.

Check It Out

  • Book Nook: Learn about the latest books in the quilting industry.
  • Designer 15: Meet Kari Carr, a designer who has made teaching others a lifetime passion.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Blog Writing: Review key steps to creating a sustainable blog to improve your search engine optimization.
  • Market Finds: Trends, products, and ideas our staff discovered at the Fall International Quilt Market.
  • Quilt Shop Owner Q&A: Retailers have questions, and expert Tom Shay tackles them head-on.


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