Posted on Leave a comment

Tackle Your Business Stress

Less Stress

Has stress been a big part of your year? If it has, you’re definitely not alone. Don’t let stress run your life. Practice some of these tips to reduce what’s on your plate.

Maximize your time

If interruptions get in the way of completing tasks, plan around that. The most obvious move is put your phone on do not disturb, set an alarm, and get to work.

If not being available for your business seems out of the question, work during the best time that you can avoid interruptions. If you’re a morning person, wake up an hour earlier to get work done. If you’re a night owl, plan an hour before bed to knock those to-do tasks out.

Ever consider NOT attending that webinar you registered for to give yourself breathing room? Give it a try sometime, and see if the world ends.

Lastly, do you have a constant stream of marketing efforts to attract new customers? Word of mouth is still the best from of referral, but social media is the next best. Develop your online persona so your customers can feel the personal touch your business provides.

Automate, Delegate, Eliminate

Do you still do the bookkeeping manually? What other tasks do you do by hand? Set some time aside to research how you can automate through apps, sites, and services.

Further, do you personally answer every email, return every voicemail, go through the inventory, etc.? Delegate those tasks to free yourself to more pressing matters that will take your business the extra mile.

Finally, eliminate the negativity in your life, including the unneeded stressers that your business may cause. Try some of these tips to get you closer to managing the stress in your life.

Inspiration for this post came from “Is Business Stress Ruining Your Life?” by Beth Montpas published in the October 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Art of the Pivot

The Art of the Pivot

This year has been full of pivots. As business owners, we are constantly pivoting to changes large and small. What’s different about this year is that some of the changes we’ve made ended up being permanent.

Re-evaluate your goals

With some of these more-permanent changes, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your business goals. Has new customer retention fallen or remained the same as last year? Don’t look at this like a con, rather take the opportunity to invest more time and energy in the customer base you already have.

Do you feel like you’ve spent all year focusing on short term goals instead of mid-to-long range goals? If you feel this way, you’re not alone. It’s ok to continue responding to you ever-changing short term goals until things feel stable again.

Change marketing

Part of the business shift this year is redirecting your marketing to mainly online efforts. Since we’ve had to remain at home people have been spending much more time online. This is a great way to reach your audience—find out where they are (Facebook? Twitter? Tik Tok?) and spend your marketing budget there.

Pivot from the sale

Selling to someone who recently lost their job or continuing your sales operations as if everything were normal is insensitive. Instead, practice empathy and let your customer base know what you’ve been doing to respond to the health crisis, as well as share that you know what they’re going through. This can mean changing your inventory to include more of what they need (supplies to make face masks) and less of what used to be a trend the same time last year (ribbon wreaths).

As we mentioned earlier, business owners are constantly pivoting to respond to market needs. Why should this pivot be any different?

Inspiration for this post came from “The Art of Pivoting” by Sommer Leigh published in the October 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Inbound Marketing and Your Business

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is a relatively new marketing technique that draws customers to your business through content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and branding.

Read on to find out if inbound principles are something your business should adopt.

The Five Inbound Marketing Principles

The five principles of Inbound Marketing are designed to make your business top of your customers’ mind.

  1. Know your audience. Before writing copy and blasting off messages through your social media channels, know your buyer persona. Identify your buyer’s problem, and cater your messaging to respond to that.
  2. Understand your buyers journey. One of the biggest turnoffs is when a business is desperate for a sale. What stage of the buying journey is your customer at? Are they looking for more information? How can you assist in that way?
  3. Provide value. If your sales clerks are trained to give a pitch, ask yourself if that pitch is always necessary. Be sure you train your employees to be able to respond to the customers needs, not just your business’s needs. In addition to in person changes, what about your website? Do you have a blog? Providing opportunities for education is the best way to add value to your customer.
  4. Promote it, and they will come. Search engine optimization is important during this step, but so is delivering the right messages at the right stage of the buying process.
  5. Trust is the most important value. According to Inbound Marketing, trust is built throughout the process. This means, in summary, you understand your audience and their needs, deliver the messages they want at the correct stage in their buying process, and remain helpful for current and future purchases.

For more information on Inbound Marketing, consider reading blogs by Hubspot.com, or purchase Inbound Content.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

AQR Academy Continued: Social Selling

Social Selling

Miss your chance to attend AQR Academy? We have good news—we’re continuing the series!

Join American Quilt Retailer on November 12 at noon for a Zoom workshop on Social Selling. We’ll cover the ins and outs of selling through social media during a 90 minute class.

Social Selling Workshop

Editor Heidi Kaisand will join a panel of experts for an interactive workshop full of learning and conversation. We’ll help you elevate your online skills to increase sales.

In addition this session will equip you with the resources, solutions, and strategies to optimize social media sales in preparation for the year ahead.

Topics include: What is Social Selling, Benefits of Social Selling, Social Selling Strategy, Social Selling Best Practices and Techniques, and Tricks and Tools.

Help us spread the word; don’t attend alone, and tell your friends! Registration is already open and the event is $25 for subscribers and $45 for non-subscribers.

We also forgot to mention the event will be sponsored by QT Fabrics. Also acting as a contributing sponsor is C&T Publishing. Don’t miss your chance to network with industry experts; invest in your business by attending this workshop today.

AQR Academy

Speaking of AQR Academy, if you missed the original event on October 27 have no fear. You can still get all of the information presented by purchasing the recordings and digital recap of the event.

The fast pace classes include topics covering: Employee Relations, Propelling Your Business Forward in the Digital World, Increasing Profits and Revenue, Inspiration for the Stuff We Sell, and Strategies for Public Relations.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Store Preparation for the New Year

It’s never too early for preparation (especially after the year we’ve had). Consider adding these tasks to your to-do list so you can begin 2021 ahead of schedule.

Event Preparation

If you aren’t already hosting one large event and two smaller events per month, you should. Start 2021 with all three events hosted the first week, then you can alternate weeks the remainder of the year. Some ideas include make-it and take-its, demonstrations, seminars, and vendor days. And remember, an event doesn’t always have to correspond with a sale.

Team Training

Speaking of year long events, if you don’t already have a weekly team training scheduled, put one on the calendar. It may seem difficult to think of topics at first, but eventually your team will have requests of their own.

Some places to start include making a list of “never out” items. These are items that should always be in stock as they can make or break sales. And they should be in extra stock during the busy season.

Another idea includes coming up with bag stuffer ideas. Train your employees to give a 30 second pitch of the bag stuffer as they hand the flyer to the customer. This will prove much more effective than not mentioning the bag stuffer at all.

Finally, review your return policy. Try to be flexible on returns (as other competitors in the market are) but train your staff to ask about an in-store credit or gift card option first.

Gift Cards

If your store uses paper gift certificates instead of plastic gift cards, you’re going to want to switch stat. Retailers that switch from paper to plastic see an increase of sales from 35% to 50%. On top of that, 55% of customers have to go to a store twice to spend the full gift card amount, which is great news for your business.

Inspiration for this post came from 2020 Prep by Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer of Kizer and Bender. For more preparation ideas, visit their business expert page.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Tips for Going Live on Facebook

Facebook live

If you’re like most of the world, you’ve received notifications from Facebook alerting you that one of your friends or the pages you follow are going live. Jump in on the action with these tips.

Promoting your Facebook live

Video is becoming more popular, and live videos get 3 times more interaction than other videos on social media. Promote your Facebook live event before it takes place, and post about it across all social media channels.

When you chose a date and time for your event keep in mind what works best for your followers. Looking at previous engagement data should help you make this decision.

Try a test run

Test run your Facebook live event before the scheduled date and time so you can avoid formatting problems. Try to get this right as watchers will stay on the video three times as long as they would other videos (nobody wants watchers to leave for silly reasons, such as shaky video).

Some things to consider include: lighting, production quality (will you be shooting in your store? Or in front of a blank wall to minimize distractions?), and whether or not you should shoot vertically or horizontally (vertical shooting can sometimes make you look too close to the camera).

Interact with your followers

Remember, Facebook live is to engage with your audience. This means you should be adding context constantly throughout your video so any new followers who jump on know what you’re speaking about.

Interact with followers by addressing their comments as they appear. This will make your stream feel like a two-way conversation, which may explain why live videos drive ten times the amount of comments compared to other videos.

Wrapping up the event

After the event is over, check your data. How are the results compared to other posts? Take the time to respond to any comments you may have missed, and encourage people to continue to comment if they’re catching the video after the event is over.

Interested in learning more? Use this checklist to help you get started with your first Facebook live.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Visual Merchandising for Your Quilt Shop

Visual Merchandising

With the Holiday shopping season right around the corner, now is the time to switch up your visual merchandising to optimize your sales floor.

Whether you know it or not, we make subconscious decisions all the time. Shoppers decide within the first 10 seconds of entering your store if they want to spend time in that space. Read on to discover how visual merchandising influences your customer.

Basics of visual merchandising

Fixtures, a simpler term for shelves and wall units, should look nice in your store but should never distract from the product. Also keep in mind that the American for Disabilities Act (ADA) requires 3 feet between fixtures.

Also include a speed bump front and center of your store to feature new items, tell product stories, and place irresistible items.

As for messaging, shoppers should be able to consume your message within 5 seconds or less. And remember, color is important. No matter what color scheme you chose, be sure to stick with it.

Some other interesting changes include replacing a metal display table with a wooden one. This simple switch will automatically increase sales. Also, profits increase the better your store smells. Grapefruit gives a burst of energy, vanilla calms, and cinnamon attracts money.

Layout options

The way you set up your store can also influence sales. Check out these layouts to find out if your store has room for improvement.

  • Sight line: Allow shoppers to view the entire sales floor upon entering. Place shorter items at the front and taller items at the back.
  • Vertical displays: Because we read left to right, placing items vertically guarantees your customer will view an entire selection in one glance.
  • Visual Curve Merchandising: Using slanted shelves or waterfall brackets will increase your customer’s visual strike zone. Without even realizing it, this layout forces the customers gaze forward, up, and down the product.

What are you waiting for? Make some changes in your store and watch your profit margins rise.

Inspiration for this post came from Visual Merchandising for the Holidays be Rich Kizer and Georgeanne Bender.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Holidays: Social Marketing Guide

Holidays Social Marketing Guide

There’s a reason why Q4 is referred to as the “Golden Quarter” in the retail industry. Make the most of the lull before the Holidays by beginning your social media marketing strategy to plan the best content at the right time.

Rules to follow

Facebook and Instagram are essential. Posting frequently on both of these channels is just as important, but don’t worry, you can repeat what you post on these platforms.

Think of social media as an extension of getting customers to your store by word of mouth. If all you’re posting about are sales, you’re going to have less online engagement. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule of content, meaning 80 percent of your posts should be unrelated to products or deals.

Further, stay engaged. The highest times of social media engagement are at the beginning and end of each day, which means checking your social media content frequently between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily is a safe bet.

On top of that, you should interact with your followers. This means liking their posts, replying promptly to comments, and following similar services to what you provide.

Content for the Holidays

Update your website to include a gift giving guide. Take it even further by incentivizing customers who visit and utilize this page with a discount or gift card.

Also update your social media profile photos with something that reflects the season. Throwing in holiday related hashtags and reusing words like “Christmas,” “Holidays,” “Santa,” and “Hanukkah,” will help with your content engagement as well.

We’re well into October; what are you waiting for? Get a head start on Holiday planning today.

Inspiration for this post came from Social Marketing for the Holiday Season by Rich Kizer and Georgeanne Bender.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Fall Virtual Blue Bag

Virtual Blue Bag

This year has been full of adaptations. In lieu of Fall Quilt Market, we’re continuing our Virtual Blue Bag event! Check out what goodies are in store for the rest of the year.

Virtual blue bag fabrics

  • Beginning Fabrics Gallery has updated their collections. Check both the old and the new as they’re all beautiful.
  • Northcott is continuing their re-ordable Essentials that includes fabrics of all color schemes including light, dark, warm, cool, and more. Check out the Lustre line that includes more colors of their iconic paisley pattern.
  • Continuing with the Northcott theme, Bandana is a collection filled with rich palettes of “bright reds, bold blues, and saturated grays.” Also included are patterns to make your own patriotic themed quilts.
  • Christa Quilts is giving you a free pattern along with their breathtaking fabric (we never get tired of looking at their supply).

Projects, products, and more

  • RNK Distributing: Has been working hard to keep their dealers stocked. Check out their YouTube channel to stay up to date.
  • New Leaf Stitches has you covered for any upcoming classes. Get everything you need including fabrics, patterns, notions, and more; New Leaf Stitches has it all.
  • It’s pumpkin spice time! Head over to Puppy Girl Designs to check out her new line of Postcard Patterns including fall themed patterns.
  • Have you checked out Martingale’s Sew-A-Sample shop program? If you haven’t, you need to. At no cost to you, you can download any sample pattern to have ready to display the day your Martingale book arrives in the mail.

Stay tuned for more Virtual Blue Bag goodies in next week’s blog.


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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Register for AQR Academy

AQR Academy

Have you heard the news!? American Quilt Retailer is hosting AQR Academy; a one day virtual event for quilt retailers. Regardless if you have a brick-and-mortar store or are solely online, this event is for you.

Join Editor Heidi Kaisand on Tuesday, October 27 for a day full of fast-paced classes focused on topics needed to be a successful retail owner. Subjects include: employee relations, propelling your business forward in the digital world, increasing profits and revenue, inspiration for the stuff we sell, and strategies for public relations.

In addition, the event will also include opportunities for virtual networking with industry professionals. We all know this year has been unpredictable; tune in for tips and strategies as we enter 2021.

Academy Pricing

Registration for AQR Academy opened yesterday. Early bird registration prices (if you register before October 6) come in at $75 for subscribers and $155 for non-subscribers. After that, prices rise to $95 for subscribers and $195 for non-subscribers. (In other words, become a subscriber today to take advantage of the lower rates!)

And we forgot to mention; AQR will mail a swag back to the first 200 participants! Next week we’ll highlight some of the goodies that may be included during our Virtual Blue Bag series. What are you waiting for, sign up for AQR Academy today.


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.