July 18, 2014

Opening a New Quilt Business – The Reality

Back in the late 1970’s I worked at a quilt shop in downtown Flint, Michigan called “Quilts, Kits and Caboodles.”  It was in an old Victorian house which had been painted bright pink, a stark contrast to the neighboring court house and legal offices.  There, I had the opportunity to learn what it was like to organize a quilt shop, run sales, cut fabric, accurately measure how much fabric was left on a bolt without unwinding the bolt, and so much more.  But nothing prepared me for operating an ONLINE quilt shop; that has been learned by jumping into the water feet-first and just doing it.  Since the business will be one month old this Sunday, July 20, I am still learning and will be for quite some time.


The hardest part about starting an online business,  www.HandQuiltingSupplies.com,  is navigating through the creation of a website.  I went with a company that offers “shopping cart” website services, as doing that took a lot of the technical work out of my hands.  I have been pleased, though I want to make some changes to the design of the opening page.  What you see there is temporary. 

Setting up credit card service was a challenge, and I wasn’t fully aware of all the fees that were involved in the process. Holy Rip-Off, Batman!  I much prefer the use of PayPal, and am pleased to see that many of my customers like PayPal as well.  However, not everybody does.  Opening a business meant opening a business bank account, which was not very difficult, but involves more paperwork on a regular basis.  Dealing with all the legal documents, financial advisors, accountants, forms and procedures adds a lot to the schedule when you are starting out, and I’m glad I’m past that initial hurdle.



Because my focus for the business was on supplies for HAND quilters,  that meant that I didn’t need to worry about locating and purchasing lots of fabric or supplies and notions that machine quilters need.  I did need to find sources for hand quilting supplies, and fortunately most of that fell into my lap or was suggested by friends in the business.  Each supplier has their own legal forms to fill out if you are going to be a wholesale customer. Choosing which items to carry took careful planning, and knowing how much of each to stock was mainly guess-work.  I didn’t want to buy too much at first, yet didn’t want to run out during the first week.  Even though the business is still in its first month, I have found myself reordering already, and have added more items to the inventory. 



What am I enjoying the most?  My customers!  I can’t begin to tell you how heartwarming it is to get so much positive feedback from you, and I love that you are asking questions and wanting suggestions, not only for what supplies you need, but HOW to do things.  My goal was to offer a personal service to hand quilters, and I hope that offer comes through loud and clear.  Any time you have a how-to question, please know that you are welcome to contact me and just ask.


What do I like the least?  The shipping costs.  If I could remove all shipping costs, I would.  I realize that shipping outside of the United States is so expensive, but unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about that.  It’s out of my hands.  If we all had a quilt shop within five miles of where we live, AND if that quilt shop had a hand quilting expert willing to help new hand quilters, we wouldn’t have to talk about this.  But sadly, that’s not how things are. 
Kudos go out to Colonial Needle Company and Tom Collingham for being so supportive of this new venture!  Tanya in Customer Service and Sherrie in Graphic Arts have been a tremendous help to me, and are worth their weight in gold.  And I could not have done this without Pepper Cory’s friendship and guidance, and Tim Latimer’s friendship and encouragement.  That means SO much!


Lastly, to my AWESOME husband Dean for being open to this new venture, his excellent ability to look at all sides of any issue and make suggestions and discuss pros and cons, and his tolerance for my less-than-stellar organizational skills.  I couldn’t do this without you!
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Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts! 2014. Visit Michigan Quilts on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/119294870401/

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4 comments:

  1. Congratulations! I opened a B&M shop a little over 1 month ago so we're in the same boat! I feel your pain at the process but I've enjoyed this so much already thanks to my customers who make this all worthwhile! Good luck!

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  2. I ordered from your site and received my order very fast. Thank you for creating your great site. The hand written thank you was very nice.

    Tracy

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  3. good luck on the shop - I'm fully stocked up in supplies at the moment but well keep you mind

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  4. Congratulations and best wishes for success with your new endeavor.

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