I'm devoting quite a few posts a year about the importance of brick-and-mortar quilt shops like ours. At times I feel like people just are not listening. The biggest concern I hear from people whenever I post on this issue is that fabric is too expensive. As I've said over and over again, fabric has only increased $2-$3 since we opened in 2005 when it was $8.99/$9.99 - this is based on manufacturer and of course cotton vs. flannel/batik. That equates to about .23 cents a year. That's hardly outrageous. I even asked this question: "So how much do you want to pay for fabric?" to which no one responded. Completely fascinating.
BTW...I bought a gallon of milk for $3.39 yesterday!
Anyway, I recently stumbled upon this article below and I loved its honesty.
United We Stand
Weeks Ringle, Modern Quilt Studio
The past few years have brought tremendous changes to the world of quilting. Shops have closed by scores. Magazines and book publishers have shuttered or merged with other publishers. American Quilter Society has ceased publishing books all together. City Quilter in New York is closing. Tension has arisen at times between genres of quilters who perceive one genre being intolerant to another.
We began teaching modern quilting in 2001. The ages of our students ranged from twenty-somethings to retirees. Even as early as 2001 we noticed that spending patterns were clearly divided by age. Retirees had large stashes and both the time and money to make lots of quilts. Younger quilters had student debt, insecure jobs and looming college and retirement costs that prevented them from spending as much time or money on quilting. If we had a studio sale with fabric deeply discounted, the 50+ crowd would spend hundreds of dollars and the 30-somethings would buy 4 fat quarters. It was a pattern we saw repeatedly. So we never drank the Kool-Aid about modern quilters or young quilters saving our shrinking industry. They can’t afford to.
Hiring designers based on the number of Instagram followers instead of talent will not save our industry. Deciding which books to publish based on the age of the author will not save our industry. Belittling other genres of quilting will definitely not save our industry. If you REALLY want to save our industry, here are a few things you can do:
1.) Buy fabric and supplies from an owner whose name you know. Buying quilting fabric from Massdrop or Fabric.com might not seem like a big deal but for a mom-and-pop retailer every dollar truly matters. If you buy from Massdrop, the designer makes 15-20 cents per yard at best. If you buy directly from the designer, they make $4-6 per yard. Insert Note from Brian: Why are we promoting buying from a designer over a store??? That's not helping your brick and mortar bring in new fabrics! Girl...don't even get me started. If you buy from a shop even better!
2.) Buy books from authors directly or through local quilt shops. If you buy a book from Amazon to save $4, the author makes $1. If you buy it from the author, the author makes typically half of the cost of the book, usually $10-15. If you buy it from a local quilt shop, the shop owner makes the profit but at least it stays in the industry and they stay in business and buy more books. It’s an enormous difference. Insert Note from Brian: The books have the MSRP directly listed on the book.
3.) Support ALL types of quilting. If you’re a modern quilter, go to an exhibit of applique quilts at a local guild. Do a shop hop of shops you haven’t been to. Take classes that are outside of your comfort zone. All of this money filters down to support guilds, teachers, shops and designers. Insert note from Brian: Exactly! If a quilt shop that is local to you doesn't carry all of the fabrics you want, surely they have patterns, notions and classes! There is more than one way to support your local quilt shop.
4.) Teach someone to sew or quilt. Help a teenager make a quilt for college or for graduation. Show a boy how to make a messenger bag or a pillow for his room. Insert note from Brian: Or take a class at your local quilt shop, step out of your comfort zone and learn something new!
5.) Understand the laws of supply and demand. With fewer shops in business and fewer quilters, the cost of fabric has and will increase. Insert Note from Brian: Revisit what I said at the top of this blog. In 13 years fabric has increased .23 cents a year. Not outrageous. No one is taking advantage of you or ripping you off. It’s just the economics of each yard costing more because fewer yards are being produced. Ditto for the cost of magazines, especially with magazines like ours that has no ads.
6.) Don’t expect everything for free. Unless you want quilting to go the way of tatting, with very few people able to make a living teaching or designing, don’t photocopy patterns for your friends and don’t limit what you can learn to YouTube. I understand that each of us only has so much money and it’s tempting to want to give away your favorite patterns with your guild friends, but if you don’t support shops, publishers, designers and the like, those people will have to find other ways to make a living. The closed shops, the shuttered publishers and those who have left the industry for greener pastures or as a result of closures are proof that it has become harder than it was 20 years ago to make a living in the quilting industry. Insert Note from Brian: "Can I just share the pattern with my friend?" Um...no.
Most importantly, can we just band together to support all quilters? And when I say support, I mean financially as well as sharing with others the work you find inspiring be it at a guild meeting or through social media. Can we decide that each quilt is made by someone who loves quilting as much as you do? If you don’t like the way quilt competitions are structured, suggest a new category. If you want more books on a certain topic, email the publisher. If you want more magazine coverage of a certain trend, let the editors know. If you want a certain fabric your local shop doesn’t carry, ask if they would be willing to order it. We are fortunate right now to have more work than we can manage. However, watching businesses related to quilting close affects all of us.
Please share in the comments section anything you can think of to support the quilting world.
I thought that was an interesting read and it's much appreciated. I REALLY like that they ended it with "please share in the comments anything you can think of to support the quilting world." Support...being the key word.
Obviously the world will not collapse if there are no quilt shops, but I would imagine to many of you it would certainly feel like it. There is a love/hate relationship with the internet. We love the convenience, but we hate that it ends up ruining jobs and the things we love to do in our leisure time. We want our country and quilting community to be productive and prosperous for future generations but if we keep letting big on-line only corporations take over literally everything....just remember we've done it to ourselves.
Stay Seeew-cial... ~ Brian