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Quilt Market Audience

Believe it or not, quilting is a $3.7 billion industry.

With a number that large, it’s easy to feel optimistic about the futures of our businesses. The next step is to figure out who is contributing to that market, and cater to their wants and needs.

There are anywhere from 7 to 10 million quilters in the United States, and 72% of them are dedicated quilters showing this industry has both quality and quantity within it’s following.

The average dedicated quilter is a 63 year old female with a household income of $93,000 according to this report. They spend over $3,000 a year on quilting and prefer traditional quilting over modern techniques.

To keep in mind the future of the industry don’t forget quilters aged 45 and under, otherwise known as new quilters. Although they are not considered dedicated quilters due to time constraints with work and family, they still spend about 10 hours a week quilting and have an average household income of $98,000. They get their information mainly from video and social media and prefer modern quilting techniques.

By 2020, 72% of all social media posts will include video. Even though video can be a daunting task, it is what the industry is moving to—better to start now rather than later! Making your own videos will make it more likely that new quilters will attend an event in shop considering only 26% of new quilters attended a quilt show last year.

This article isn’t trying to persuade you to only cater to dedicated quilters or new quilters, variety is a good thing! Keep doing what you’re doing and continue to be your community’s expert on all things quilting.


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New Education Director named for International Quilt Market

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 8.45.41 PM.pngYou heard it here first folks—Marcia Barker has been named the new Director of Education for the International Quilt Festival and Quilt Market.

Barker is replacing the late Judy Murrah and will be in charge of directing 150 faculty members and planning over 500 classes and lectures for both the Quilt Market and Quilt Festivals.

Barker’s main goal is to fulfill the big shoes left for her from Murrah, as well as listen to what the consumers want most.

Other team members include Education Manager Jill Benge and Education Assistant Barbara Cline.

In her personal life, Barker has been married to her husband Tom for over 40 years and together they have two children and two grandchildren. She also spends her time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity as well as performing across the world with variety dance group Up with People.

On a professional level, Barker has worked with Quilts, Inc. since 2000, and has been a member of the Education show team (including Education show team leader).

Quilting and planning are not new to Barker as she has been coordinator of the Bernina Fashion Show and has been sewing since she was nine years old.

American Quilt Retailer has been a regular supporter of both the International Quilt Festival and the International Quilt Market; even having an education class at the last International Quilt Market called the “Schoolhouse Series.”

AQR is excited to work alongside Barker in her new role, and wish her the best luck!

Check out Quilts, Inc. for more industry news, classes, and events.


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Stretch the bottom line

In any business, cash is king. Making, and keeping, that cash can be the problem. Follow these tips to make the most of your money.

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Ask for help. Delegating tasks in the most effective way is easier said than done, but it’s amazing how far a little reflection can go in your business. Take two weeks and keep a journal with everything you had to do that someone else could have done, and any question you had to answer that you shouldn’t have had to. After two weeks the answer to making the most of your time (and time is money) will be obvious.

Stick to your guns. The next time you budget, chose a dollar amount for every line item and then refuse to go over it. Download an app to help you stay on track—like Mint—that links to your bank account and shows where you’re spending your money. If you’ve never kept data on your expenses, be ready for a wake up call. Numbers don’t lie though, and sometimes a wake up call is necessary. The app will send you alerts when you’re approaching your budget and tell you when you’re spending too much on something.

Purge, baby, purge. After sticking to your budget, check for ways to cut costs. The ways you can save money begin to be pretty apparent after using a data-driven budgeting app; start making those changes effective immediately.

Weigh your UPS and FedEx packages. You’d be amazed when you start doing this yourself how much you’re overcharged. Of course this isn’t the only money saving tip, but as our stores are inventory-driven, this is one process you could add that may end up saving some big bucks.

Use your resources. Chances are you’re a member of a trade association, but when was the last time you logged in and checked out what options are available to you? Save (and actually read) the next email blast or promotion you receive from them as a reminder to take a minute and peruse new ways to use your association membership.

Take your time. Money can be one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of our lives. If you’re hesitant about making any of these changes, sleep on it. If when you wake up (and after you’ve weighed your options) you realize the pros are greater than the cons, follow through. Change isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it saves you hard-earned cash.

money money.jpgIf you have had any success making a change in your business, and reaped the benefits financially, we’d love to hear about it! Contact American Quilt Retailer through our Facebook page today.


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Affordable Foot Traffic

Affordable foot traffic—is that even a thing? And what does it even mean? If you want to increase your foot traffic without breaking the bank, follow these suggestions.

  1. Ask yourself one question: what is one thing my business could to to _______? Then answer that question honestly.
  2. The second step is to fill in that blank! What is one thing my business could do to increase foot traffic? Host an event! When you answer that question honestly, you’ll probably come up with an event that you would want to attend if it wasn’t your store. Don’t forget to think outside the box, the event should attract a new demographic and offer a sale. And since events are low budget the biggest resource you’ll use is the time it takes to plan it.
  3. Use social media. Email blasts should be sent every 15 days, and budget to spend at least $2 a day on Facebook ads.
  4. Offer coupons. Coupons are different then sales, every store can offer a sale. Set yourself apart by using coupons; statistics show 96% of consumers use coupons and 85% of consumers look for coupons before visiting a store. The more you know!
  5. Last but not least, put time and effort into your store display— it is more important than many business owners realize. The display can also be one of the most fun parts of running a store, so have fun with it!

foot traffic

All of these things take advanced planning, so be sure to include these topics in your company meetings. Not to use one liners, but these are tried and true statements: remember, more hands make light work and the early bird gets the worm.


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What’s in stock?

Inventory management. What a scary phrase, right? And when spoken as a task it can sound even worse.

But all business owners know how important inventory management can be. How is anyone supposed to know how much of a new product a business should order? Being small business owners makes these processes a little harder when time is already thin.

For those of you who don’t know, inventory management is the process of tracking assets and stock items. Inventory management follows the flow of goods from the moment you order product from a manufacturer to delivery to your local store and finally to the point of sale.

The goal is to keep as good of records as possible for each new and returned item in your store.

Inventory management

Building your own excel sheet is a good start for keeping track of your inventory. Another way to make the numbers more personal is by including the cost of the inventory in the spreadsheet as well.

Stock review is an important manual step in the inventory management process; simply analyze what’s on hand versus what you will need in the future. Of course you can always order product for a customer if they request it; but isn’t it handy for both of you when it’s already in supply?

Another plus of inventory management is that the process forces you to keep records; be sure to review these records once a year to know your best selling products during certain seasons. This can also help with new product predictions too. Keep in mind the ABC system when you’re doing this to keep you focused and organized, where

  • A equals high-value, low quantity goods,
  • B equals moderate value, moderate quantity goods, and
  • C equals low value, high quantity goods.

There are systems in place now to help with the financial side of inventory as well. Since each business owner has their own personal preference, I recommend this article that may help you make the best decision for yourself on what system to purchase.

Once you get this system in place, it can help you determine your reorder point and the amount of stock you want to keep on hand. Knowledge is power, and the more quality data you have on your inventory can save you time and money.


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Top 10 Self Help Books

It’s never too late to start caring for yourself! Read the bios of these self help books to see which most applies to you—or to a friend.

1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl was originally published in 1946 and is in the top 10 of the most influential books in America. After suffering—and surviving—four holocaust camps, Frankl writes about how to cope with, and move on from, suffering, and how he used these skills in his practice. 1

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is both a personal and professional self help book that includes in-depth exercises to put into practice what you’re reading. This landmark book teaches you how to live a life through integrity, fairness, honesty, and dignity.

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3. The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz was originally published in 1960, but updated to include modern anecdotes. This book walks with you on your way to success, no matter if your goal is to lose weight or grow your business.

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4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini is a book about why people say yes. Learn how to make people say yes and how to defend yourself against the same tactics through this research-driven read.

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5. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is definitely the most business-oriented self help book on this list. Used on Wall Street, this book teaches you about markets and luck.

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6. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie is exactly what the title says; if you’re wanting a worry-free future then this is the book for you. Other tips include time management and financial planning.

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7. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz is yet another book who’s title accurately depicts what you’ll learn on it’s pages, if you reach for the moon you’ll at least land in the stars.

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8. The One Thing by Gary Keller is also listed on the top five business books and has won 12 awards. This book is about mindfulness, cutting clutter out of your life to be the most productive, and how to work on what really matters.

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9. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is a book that follows over 3000 years of powerful public figures and narrows their common traits into 48 laws to follow in your life. Read about confidence, humility, self-preservation, and more.

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10. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely shows how humans waste time and money on systemic processes in our lives. Whether you’re buying a car or choosing a romantic partner, this book exposes how humans are predictably irrational.

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AQR knows business owners don’t have access to an infinite amount of spare time, but pick up one of these reads as a gift for a fellow business owner or as a way to kill time while traveling.

*Note: this list was found at Medium.com, another blog founded by the creators of a little app known as Twitter.


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Create your online presence

Now that Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday have all come to a close, you can take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for surviving the busiest week for retail stores every where.

And as you prepare for the continuing busy holiday schedule, one thing to keep in mind is your online presence.

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Developing an online presence can be intimidating; especially if your business has never had one. But one sure way to ensure you are getting the most success during the holiday season is ensuring your website and social media are as on-point as your store.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Plan ahead. Have a goal and outline for what you want your website to look like. Think of it as how you plan your store; your business’s website should be clean, welcoming, and easy to manage. Try to follow the three-click rule, meaning you shouldn’t have to click more than three times for customers to find the information they need.
  • Write. Write your own message but keep it short and simple. Feel free to use calls to action and advertise what sales you have going on. Make sure you tell customers what you can do for them even if you don’t have an online shopping option.
  • Seek help. Designing a website isn’t easy, but it is so important in today’s industry, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. The most cost effective way to build a website is through a website builder rather than hiring a designer. Check out this article for an in-depth review on which website hosts are the best for you.
  • Keep it professional. Make sure your website is heavy on visual content; but most importantly, make sure you’re happy with the product! Take your time building the website and try to keep your online brand as consistent as the physical store.
platforms
Another important tip is to test your website on a variety of platforms. Ideally, your website should be transferable to all three. 

I realize the holiday season isn’t the best time to make a website, but with the new year comes new goals. If you already have a website, now is the perfect time to freshen it up! Creatives love to create, think of working on your website as another outlet for your creativity.


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.

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AQR Releases Digital Issue

Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is excited to announce the special digital issue is available for download at our website! And did we mention it’s free?

In this issue you can read all about the International Quilt Market and get bonus’s compared to our print issue, including links to other articles. Just click on the links to dig deeper into your favorite pieces and ideas.

Articles include a synopsis of the Schoolhouse Series presented by Heidi Kaisand and Jody Sanders, product snapchats of favorites found at the market, and who’s who at the market (remember, it’s never too late to start preparing for next year)!

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Heidi Kaisand (left) and Jody Sanders (right) present at their Schoolhouse Series at the International Quilt Market. 

The 50-page issue highlights more than the market in Houston, but includes advice on increasing foot traffic and this year’s quilting industry results. But don’t just take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

The special digital issue is in addition to the regular print magazine, so take advantage of this opportunity! What better way to recommend our magazine to fellow quilt retailers than by referring them to our free issue?

Reading this issue is the next best thing to attending the market, so what are you waiting for? Check out our digital issue while you have the time before the busy holiday season.


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.

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FreeSpirit Partners with Morris & Co.

William Morris’s legacy lives on thanks to a partnership with FreeSpirit and Morris & Company.

FreeSpirit just released the Kelmscott and Merton lines designed from the archives of The Original Morris & Company. The FreeSpirit line is the most authentic and only place to get designs as close to the Morris style.

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William Morris was born in England in 1834 and was most known as a poet during his lifetime. Posthumous Morris is most known for his design work and influence on pattern through both textiles and wallpaper.

Morris’s style includes influence from nature and has inspired designers for the past 120 years. The possibilities of using this traditional line of patterns in contemporary quilts has the AQR team excited to try them out.

Two designers also excited to try this line are Justin Hancock, third generation quilter of Hancock’s of Paducah, and Pokey Bolton, founder and CEO of Crafting A Life.

“I have such an appreciation for William Morris as both an artist and fabric printer,” Bolton said.

And agreeing with California-based Bolton is Hancock who owns a quilt shop halfway across the country in Kentucky.

“William Morris clearly tapped into the intersection of art and artisanship and I have long been a fan,” Hancock said.

FreeSpirit Fabrics started in 2000 with a goal of being a catalyst in the quilting industry by providing inspiring fabrics with character. Visit their website to peruse their lookbooks, patterns, and designs. You can also read more about Morris by visiting AQR’s first-ever digital issue.


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iDiscover Chats

Tune in to the Creativation show on Facebook on Wednesday, November 15 from 2:00-2:15 CST to listen to an inspiring talk given by American Quilt Retailer and Hen and Chicks Studio owner Heidi Kaisand.

The topic will be on creative store design tips, so be sure to schedule this into your day as the video will be broadcast live. Also be sure to join the Facebook page  before this time to make sure you have full access to everything the page has to offer.

Creativation is hosted by the Association for Creative Industries. AFCI is a trade association for creative arts and provides a platform for creative arts professionals to connect and learn from one another.

Creativation

AFCI started in 2004 when two leading crafts associations decided to merge. Since then the association has been dedicated to keeping up with the evolving craft world in order to stay up to date with how ideas are spread as well as encourage creative souls to succeed.

The non-profit is based out of New Jersey and their mission is to “unify, connect, represent and support the growth of the global creative community. We serve members who provide products, services and marketplaces which entertain, educate and instruct and above all inspire consumers.”

AFCI

Past iDiscover chats include “The Future of Storytelling,” by Heather Roach Heuman of Sweet Tea Social Marketing and “Discover the New Generosity Paradigm” by Leann Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing. Click here to view a complete list of past iDiscover chats.

Outside of their shows, AFCI is also hosting a Creativation convention in January in Phoenix, Arizona, and AFCI even has a philanthropic arm to their non-profit. AQR is excited to contribute to this association and hope you can all tune in to find out how to best style and design your store.


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.