Customer Relations For Your Quilt Store


Great article that discusses how a quilt store keeps their customers coming back. Repeat customers are the life blood of your business. Let's do it right!

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Customer Relations For Your Quilt Store

I loved owning my quilt store! It was a part of my life for thirteen years. Now I design patterns, quilt with friends, and make quilts for a local cancer center. What was the best part of owning a quilt store? Those huge boxes of fabric that were delivered to my door! I was like a kid in the proverbial candy store every time a fabric sales person stopped in. It was so hard to stop myself from buying every single line of fabric.

Customer Relations For Your Quilt Store


What was the second best part of owning a quilt store? The customers! I was truly blessed and enriched by the customers that came into my store over the years. Many became fast friends. Many are still my friends yet today. I also thoroughly enjoyed teaching classes and designing the store's Block of the Month designs.



Be Friendly And Giving

So how does a quilt store keep their customers coming back again and again? Can you keep everyone happy? No. But you do have to make that special effort to try. I think there's a certain type of person who can own a small business like a quilt store. They have a happy, giving, open type of personality. I will admit I've seen my fair share of quilt store owners who appear to be in the business solely to make money and do not have that welcoming personality.

I picked the brains of several of my friends about their likes and dislikes of quilt stores. Which were their favorite stores and why? And then, which stores they didn't like and why? I got a lot of feedback!


Greet Your Customers

One of the first things that were mentioned by almost everyone I talked to was that they want to be greeted when they enter the store. They don't need to be greeted by every single employee, but they'd like a warm welcome. As a quilt store owner we know to ask if the customer needs help. But for the customer - go ahead and ask for help if you need it! Don't be shy! If the quilt store owner and employees are worth the task of owning a quilt store, then they should all know the quilting basics in many different quilting categories. Now it's going to sound like I'm eating my words: talking to customers is nice and friendly, but please don't follow them around and talk their ear off! I was informed that many of the customers go into a quilt shop for the peaceful atmosphere and the ability to just wander, look and lust!



Appealing Look To The Store

Next, I was told that many, many of the favorite quilt stores had that laid-back, homey, yet eye-candy appeal as the customer walked in the door. So that everywhere a customer looked there was something fun or amazing to look at, and nearly every nook and cranny was filled with enticing patterns, coordinating pre-cuts, and notions.

Beautiful Shop


The quilt store owner wants to pull in the customers so that they have that feeling that they could stay all day! The look of the quilt shop interior can speak volumes to a potential new customer. One person told me that if the quilt shop is stark and looks like the inside of an organized pharmacy versus a Hallmark Gift Store then she doesn't buy and she doesn't return. Wow! I thought about this comment and realized just how true it is. A quilt store needs to be aimed to be in business for the customer, and not just to make an income.


Highlight Fabric Lines

I have a very good friend who has a degree in marketing. She said to me recently that "you want the customer to walk in the door, spot that new line of fabric delightfully displayed with its matching pre-cuts, individual fat quarters, patterns to use the fabric on, and several samples. You want that customer to think to themselves that they HAVE to have that fabric and that they can't move beyond that display until they bundle it in their arms!" In her words, "you don't want that customer to pass over a line of fabric that they really like because they have no idea what they can make from it". Quite often the customer needs to be guided or given ideas when they spy that "ooooh" fabric! Don"t expect a fabric line to simply sell itself.

Another mention to me was that customers really like it when they know where a specific line of fabric is going to be. For example: the civil war fabric, or 1930's line, or even the children's fabric. A few quilt stores I love always keep their distinct lines of fabric in the same area of the store. The owner of the store will make neat displays of the new fabric lines in that category with the pre-cuts and new patterns with samples, but I always know which area of the store I want to be for my specific taste in fabric. Don't worry - I always look everywhere else too! There's ALWAYS something I can't leave a good quilt store without!

Do you know that there are actually quilt stores that will not cut fat quarters? It always dumbfounds me. Why would they choose to lose that type of income? Recently, three of us were in a quilt store and wanted quite a few fat quarters cut so we could make our upcoming projects. We ended up leaving the store empty handed. No purchases at all. The owners comment was that she didn't want a bunch of fat quarters lying around that she couldn't sell. We all noted that the store was not the "homey" type at all, it was perfunctory. We marked that quilt store off our list. What a shame, eh?



Tips On Teaching Classes

So who is going to teach the next quilt class? The teacher makes all the difference. He, or she, can often make or break a quilt store. Several of the people I asked my questions to mentioned that the teachers themselves in a quilt store will often bring them back for more classes or just to shop. A quilt shop teacher really needs to know their stuff! Lots of quilters feel that because they know how to sew a seam on a pretty quilt that they have the ability to teach quilt classes. *Sigh* I've run into this problem more times than I want to count. The quilt teacher needs to not only know how to do basic quilting, but how to TEACH - and teach everyone from beginners to advanced students. Don't leave the beginning quilters hanging! The quilt teachers should know all of the mainstream quilting standards, be able to answer most any question about quilting that is thrown at them, and have a wide range of quilting knowledge that involves the different applique techniques, machine quilting, the different binding techniques, different stabilizers, different threads, and on and on. Teachers also need to know WHY the different items are used! This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine! Can you tell?

sewing hands


Social Media

A big item for customers and quilt store owners is media! If you don't have a Facebook Business Page - make one! Quilt store owners (or an employee) should be posting on their page daily. Showcase those students! That new line of fabric! And customers - you should add your favorite quilt stores to your "like" listing. You never know what a quilt store might have in mind - we all like surprises. Hint to the quilt store - offer a discount or special word of the week to those who bring in their smart phone or use the special word. You'll then know who is visiting your FB page!




Not only can you, as a quilt shop owner, boost your business, but you can post about upcoming classes, new sales you’ll be offering, and even add any Shop Hop’s you’ll be participating in. Add a few photos of your shop because, well, we’re proud of our quilt shops and who doesn’t like to boast a little! Check the "Quilt Shop Owners Click Here," and watch the tour video to see how it works! I know you’ll want to join me and many others who use this site. How does half a million viewers monthly sound?



One friend told me that she often by-passes a store's newsletter in her email (even if she's signed up for it at the store) if it is notoriously bland. Hmmm. Customers - don't be afraid to let your favorite quilt store owners know what you want to see in their newsletter. More classes? What new fabric is coming in? Is there that quilt book, ruler, fabric bundle that everyone's been waiting for that is due to ship after Quilt Market? How about letting customers pre-order? Mention it in the newsletter. We all love to feel special and that we're the first to get in on the newest quilting trend! Make that newsletter bright, fun, and friendly! Make sure that not only do you send the newsletter out by email, but that you add it to your web site and a link to it on your FB page. I'm now a customer and not a store owner so I love getting a newsletter that makes me feel that it is speaking just to me!

And, lastly, many of those brains I picked with questions before writing this article expressed that they are most unhappy when a quilt store displays a quilt sample and doesn't have the fabric or pattern available anymore. I agree. It is SO disappointing when that occurs!

Owning a quilt store is hard work. You have to absolutely love the genre of quilting and all that it encompasses. Opening a store just because you plan to get rich (it never happens!) or because you like to quilt just won't cut it. Knowledge of all things that pertain to quilting is key. Teachers and employees who are very knowledgeable in quilting is important too. The love of people, sharing your knowledge, and being willing to share your talent is what makes that customer and quilt store owner relationship magical!


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Machine Quilting
Creating quilting stitches on a quilt using a sewing machine instead of sewing them by hand.
Small sewing supplies such as pins, scissors, rulers, seam ripper, and so on.
A heavy plastic measuring guide that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Barb Grutter

Hello! I'm a work at home mother to two adult children, married to my best friend and biggest fan for 36 years, and we are owned by two lovable miniature dachshunds.  I owned a quilt shop for 13 years, taught classes almost daily during that time, and always designed my shop's Block of the Month programs.  I've been quilting for about 25 years. 

 After I closed my shop due to illness I began working on making my block of the month designs into sale-able patterns.  I've now design more than 20 patterns that are available on Craftsy and Etsy.  I still teach now and then, and have a wonderful group of friends that I quilt with weekly.   Check out my brand design page and my store page on QuiltingHub.

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