In an ever growing trend of online shopping, your local quilt guilds can be a great source for repeat customer business. Try some of these ideas to keep local quilters returning to your store instead of online.
Many shops have a common 10% discount for guild members but how appealing is this in actuality? Online competition often discounts fabric more than 10% due to not having a high overhead as storefronts and multiple employees to cover. 10% is a nice offer but not a guarantee to get guild members in your door.
Instead create a shopping discount card. Basing the value on what works well for your clientele and area, create a reason for guild members to return to shop at your store. With a Guild Shopping Discount card, after either a certain dollar amount or number of purchases, guild members may receive 25% off a single purchase.
Do you have guilds meet in your classroom space? Create a BOGO option on their meeting days where guild members can purchase a yard of fabric at full price and receive a second yard at half price.
Does your guild have a quilting specialty? What type of discount would attract the business of that specific guild? If your local guild is into applique, create a guild discount on applique notions, patterns, and materials specific for their group.
Are you often requested for a raffle basket for a local guild’s show? Getting your business seen at a quilt show can draw in new and returning customers but think carefully about what you put in that basket. Consider the type of show the guild is hosting to make sure your basket fits with their theme. If it’s a local modern quilt guild you wouldn’t want to put in civil war reproduction fabrics. Make sure your basket reflects your store but also the visiting quilters attending the show. If your store doesn’t necessarily match their theme, consider a ‘new quilter’ basket. Create a basket of a beginning quilting book, sewing staples, and a gift certificate for a beginning quilting class at your store.
Along with some of your best fabrics and tools, add a store gift certificate in your basket making sure it is visible among your products. If quilters see they can buy a raffle ticket for a dollar to win a $25 gift certificate to your store, there is a higher chance they will aim for your basket and in turn remember your store when they leave the show.
Consider other items in your basket that gives the winner reason to return to your store. They by all means will be happy if they won, but what would be more exciting: 15 fat quarters that hopefully are a color they like or a certificate of 15 fat quarters of their choosing? Spools of thread they may be too timid to try on their machine or a certificate to come pick five spools of thread from your full thread selection! A reason to come into your store after their winning will be better than taking a basket home and forgetting who they received the basket from.
Quilt Guilds are always on the lookout for teachers and education. Perhaps you or one of your employees is highly trained in a specific quilting technique. Offer your expertise to come visit local quilt guilds and teach classes. Consider yourself as how any teacher would be invited as it should be a paying gig. Being local, you can create a price range that will be affordable to the guild but still ensure it will be worth your while. If offering a class, you can give the guild a discount if they purchase the pattern in a large quantity from you. Consider creating a ‘guildsale’ purchase price compared to a wholesale price you receive from distributors. If a guild needs to order 15 patterns for you to teach a class to them, offer the quantity at a small discount. This will ensure they have the pattern from the class and receive it from you. Insert a gift certificate/discount inside the pattern that each attendee will receive to encourage them to return to your store.
If the class is based on a specific type of pattern or designer, create an ordering sheet for quilters to preorder more patterns of the same type at a small discount good only that day. If your class is on paper piecing and they loved the process, have an order sheet of similar and next level paper piecing designs for them to select. Have them order at the class event and call them when the order comes in, giving them a reason to return to your store after the class occurs.
Hopefully some of these ideas will encourage you to reach out to your local quilt guilds and get more reoccurring customers in your door. Becoming known as a store that is helpful, educational, and welcoming to guilds will keep business rising in your storefront instead of online.
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Ellen Ault is a professional long arm quilter. Her quilts have been in national quilt shows and in numerous publications. Ellen is a graphic artist and assists local quilt shops with social media.