Hen And Chicks Offers Advice To Shop Owners


Heidi Kaisand, owner of local quilt shop Hen and Chicks and publisher of Creative Retailer, offers some tips for local quilt shop owners. Learn about her shop and business practices.

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Hen And Chicks Offers Advice To Shop Owners

Heidi Kaisand has quite the background in quilting, starting when she was nine years old. After college she worked seventeen years for Meredith Publishing which is the firm behind Better Homes and Garden, among other magazines. Just about any quilting magazine/book that came out during her tenure there had her imprint. She then was with APQS Longarm Quilting Machines for a few years. Twelve years ago she started the Hen and Chicks Studio in Conrad, Iowa. Plus she is the publisher of Creative Retailer. So when she offered some advice for quilt shop owners, of course I was listening.

Hen And Chicks Offers Advice To Shop Owners


Kaisand's shop took over a building that had housed two other quilt shops previously. The 1500 square foot shop is "off the beaten path" with just over 1,000 residents. So she relies on selling coast to coast through her website. The shop also includes a retreat center that is booked solid by quilting groups seeking space. Kaisand noted that her clientele is mainly 45-70 years of age and might still be working, at least part-time. Her clients are frequently making quilts for others and focus on more traditional styles.


When looking for fabrics for her shop she is of course constrained by both space and budget. She likes to have 30% of her stock that is seasonal themed for her customers. She particularly seeks out vendors willing to service and accommodate a smaller shop like hers.



Kaisand mentioned that she enjoys checking out fabrics and seeing how a particular SKU "might fill a void in a kit" that she is putting together. Blending different manufacturing lines into a cohesive offering is very fulfilling for her.



Of course her shop offers notions but when it is time to buy something new she has strict criteria. For her customers she is "looking for something that has more than a one-time use." She needs to be able to demonstrate the notion as a valuable tool for her customers


When she started her shop she relied on QuickBooks software to manage the business but soon recognized significant shortcomings. While at the Houston, Quilt Market in 2014 she saw a booth for Like Sew and was impressed. After investigating the software for a while she opted to use their Point of Sale system. Compared to the QuickBook version, "it runs better, is easy to use and has accurate data." QuickBooks was also not linked to her website, so most information had to be entered twice to be consistent and accurate.


When looking at POS software, owners should look closely at the customer support offered. Kaisand advised that her vendor is a phone call away and once, when she had a printer compatibility issue, it was quickly and easily resolved. Shop owners should also seek out software that is focused on quilt shops and understands the offerings of a shop. Not all POS systems would understand yards and fat quarters. Software should also automatically send notices when inventory is running low, so owners can consider re-ordering. Kaisand laments that most fabric is "one and done" and cannot be re-ordered due to the limited production runs. To learn more about Like Sew, click Like Sew



When asked for advice to fellow local quilt shop owners, Kaisand offered some sage commentary. "If shops are strong, we lift each other up". She added that quilting is not just "one thing" and owners should be willing to change focus as needs and interests arises. Sage advice for all shop owners. Visit Hen & Chicks


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Mark Bach
Mark Bach is an accomplished freelance writer covering multiple fields and embroiders on his wife's projects. He features new trends in the quilting industry and is always on the lookout for new tools and tricks to make quilting easier.
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