Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Support Your Local Quilt Shop

Today was my first day of summer vacation. I just love writing that!

Report cards filled out, all materials safely tucked away in whatever spaces I can cram them, my desk cleared off (for the first time since last August), plan book and grade book turned in, various and sundry paperwork filled out, keys returned, goodbyes to the retirees said.

And so what did I do on my first day of freedom? Sleep in? Begin a new fitness program? Sew until my sewing machine started to smoke? No, no, and no.

I ran errands.

Unfortunately, my eyelids are programmed to pop open at 5:45 a.m. Actually they pop open when my alarm clock says it's 5:45, but the real time is more like 5:30. I keep the clock set 15-20 minutes ahead in order to avoid oversleeping, but that's a story for another day. So basically, I got up at the regular time, because by the time I remembered that I didn't have to get up I was already up, if you follow me.

First I had to go to the dentist. Yuck. Then I had to gas up the car. Double yuck! Then I realized that I better plan my errands rather carefully because I don't want to have to gas up the car again for a long, long time. So I made a massive loop around the city and managed to get everything done.

And you know what? One of my favorite quilt stores is on the way to the drugstore on the other side of the city where my father gets his prescriptions filled. So it wasn't really out of my way to stop by there to see if they had the perfect fabric I need for setting squares on a project I'm about to start sewing together. And the fish market is near the drug store, so that worked out okay. Grilled salmon for dinner tonight--great! After I dropped the prescriptions off at my dad's my next stop was my very favorite local quilt shop.

My LQS is kind of like my Cheers. (Where everybody knows your name.) When you walk in, the owner just kind of involves you in whatever is going on at the time. Today was the big spring cleaning in preparation for the shop hop coming up in a couple of weeks. The shop hop is a very big deal for the LQS because it brings in shoppers from all over the area.

The preparations for the hop take weeks. New store samples need to be made. Kits for quilts need to be cut. Many, many fat quarters need to be cut and bundled. The Big Quilt needs to be made. (The big draw for the shop hop is a special quilt. Individual kits for the blocks are available at each of the participating shops. If you visit each shop you will be able to buy the kits to make the entire quilt.) Store displays need to be planned and set up. This is a lot for the owner of a small shop to do on her own, so she has solicited help from all her friends.

I'm glad to help out because I know how difficult it is to run a small business, especially a niche business like a quilt shop. Margins are razor thin. Competition from big box stores can kill you.
I want her store to succeed because I like being able to go into a friendly, welcoming place to do my shopping.

I have friends who talk about the bargains they can get at the big box store. Sure, you may be able to save a few dollars, but what kind of service do you get? Does the girl behind the counter help you find that one certain fabric that will add zing to your quilt? Does she sit down with a calculator and pencil and help you figure out just how much material you're going to need for the borders? Does she know anything about the right kind of thread to use for your quilting? Will she special order books and patterns for you? Will she troubleshoot problems you have with a pattern?

If you are lucky enough to have a friendly LQS, remember to support it. A small locally owned business gives back to the community in ways that big box stores won't.

I will now climb down from my soapbox.

Thank you very much for all the kind comments on my last post. I've got about half of the first border done--hopefully tomorrow will be a sewing day around here!


Deb Geyer said...

I agree with you on LQSs. I love going to mine!

Pam said...

I agree as well. A friend of mine just opened a little quilt shop and it is a really nice place to stop and visit - she is just starting out and doesn't have 5000 bolts of fabric but the friendliness makes up for it.

atet said...

Go ahead and stay on that particular soap box -- I happen to agree with you 100%!

Congrats on finishing the school year as well -- I can't wait to see how that little blue and white quilt turns out :0).