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Set Up Your Demonstration Station


Showing is always better than telling. If you don’t have a demonstration station set up in your brick-and-mortar store, this is your sign.

Prep for your demonstration

Set aside an area to set up your demo. This should include a sewing machine (even if you don’t sell them) with tasteful and colorful fabric and matching thread in the bobbin (both upper and lower). You should, of course, have the thread and fabric as products in your store. Better yet—products the customer can’t purchase at big box retailers.

Also completed should be a sample with examples of what you’re about to demo. For instance, if you’re demonstrating appliqué your sample should display needle turn, satin stitch, decorative stitch edge, raw edge, embroidered appliqué, etc.


The customer has entered the store, you’ve greeted them, and they’ve asked for your help. Now what?

Simply ask if they have a moment to show how it works. Never make assumptions during the demonstration as to what knowledge the customer is bringing with them.

As you walk through each step of the demo, highlight the products you’re using and show the customer why they’re your favorite. Allow the customer to take a few stitches on the machine, showing the needle down feature and how the knee lift helps with accuracy.

Once finished, ask the customer if they have any questions. The more demos you give, the more objections you’ll learn to handle, and what responses work best.

Inspiration for this post came from “The Power of Demonstration” by Kay Brooks published in the April 2022 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. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Keeping Up with the Competition


Keeping up with the competition can be hard when you’re going against big-box stores and online quilt shops. We’ve got four tips to set yourself apart so you stay in front of customers minds.

Approaching the customer

Keep the pressure off the customer by greeting them as they enter the store. Instead of asking “May I help you?” say “Nice to see you!” instead. The goal is to make them feel welcome, not to put them on the spot, and a greeting is the same as letting the customer know you’re there and available.

Hosting events

Think about it this way; there are two restaurants that serve essentially the same menu right across the street from each other. One restaurant has people inside and around it, and the other is empty. Which restaurant are you going to eat at?

It’s a proven sales tactic that if you make your retail store look like the place to be, more business will follow. Hosting events is a great way to ensure your store stays full—and just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean that fun has to stop. Host virtual events, and personally invite customers to those events. You may want to keep some small (so they feel more exclusive) and others larger to continue to build community with your client base.

Encourage self learning

People like to help themselves. Many companies have guides that answer frequently-asked customer questions. What size needle do I need? What do different thread weights mean? Post these guides on social media (and don’t forget to tag the companies!) as well as by the product on your sales floor.

Optimizing your online presence

Encourage your customers to show off how they use your products on social media through store-specific hashtags. Make sure your website includes photos of employees, the facade of your brick-and-mortar store, and a video of the sales floor. Following these tips will help to set your store apart from the rest of the competition.

Inspiration for this post came from “Become the Go-To Quilt Shop,” by Kate Colleran, Joanne Hillestad, and Kris Poor, published in the June 2020 version 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.