Thank you to everyone that left a comment on my last post!! You all had such great ideas for what you like in an online quilting store. I continue to work on the store, but have hit a slight snag. Hopefully it will not hold me up for too long, I am thinking it will not. As of now I do not have an official opening date, but I am plugging along, putting together all the little pieces.
Before I get to the next story in my trials of opening this store, I wanted to announce the winner of the pattern from last week.
By way of random.org, The winner is:
Frances AltBahr says:
January 17, 2011 at 3:55 am (Edit)
I have only made 3 quilts, so I am pretty new to all of this. I search alot but never have ordered online I wasn’t sure how the colors came out by not seeing the items. I love your store name and wish you much success! I got your web from the quilting board which I love to read. I will be checking this site often also, and marking this in my ‘favorites’ Again, good luck and have fun!
Contact me and I will mail out your Schnibbles X-Rated pattern:
One of the biggest challenges of starting up an online store is deciding what inventory to stock. It took a little work to find wholesalers and set up proper accounts, but once I was all set up I was staring at thousands of potential products. Which ones should I choose? What colors should I pick? How many of each item do I buy? Do I want to cut fabric? What tools are useful? Which patterns are hot? What books are useful? So many questions!! Answering these and making a decision was not easy.
The first decision I had to make was whether or not I wanted to sell fabric. Buying bolts of fabric is not an inexpensive endeavor, so I had to decide right away what kind of store I envisioned having. There were many considerations that went into this, how much time would I have to pack boxes? Where would I cut fabric? Where would the inventory be stored? Would I sell pre-cuts? How much could I invest? But most of all, what is the need for quilting stores online? Where and how could I differentiate myself? The questions never end!
There are a lot of quilting stores online, I have shopped at quite a few of them. All the stores I have been to sell a drool worthy selection of fabrics. However, there does not seem to be a good selection of stores that only sell quilting supplies and notions. Yes, many fabric stores sell notions as well, but there is only so much of those that they can stock. I am sure they have storage and cost restrictions as well, and buying bolts of fabric uses up a lot of these resources. What if there was a place where you could buy thread, batting, rulers, needles, spray adhesive, books, patterns and more all in one place? There aren’t many stores like this and that could mean that either 1. No one has given it the old college try yet, or B. It just wouldn’t work. These are both considerations to take into account.
Another consideration was where I would be keeping my inventory. I have a nice spot in my house that is secluded and gets no traffic. It would be perfect for storing inventory. Although the space is perfect, it’s also not very large. There wouldn’t be a lot of room in that area to store bolts of fabric, nor would there be enough space to put a cutting table. Of course if I felt that having the room for these items was very important, I could find a way to expand the space, but I really wanted to keep things contained in the one area for the time being.
So with all these thoughts in mind, as well with a few other considerations like being able to pack boxes quicker and being able to use my husband and son more, I decided that my store would not sell fabric by the yard. It was almost a relief when I made that decision actually because I have a hard time picking fabrics when I go to a fabric store. Making a decision like that actually almost makes me hyperventilate! So I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t have to decide what fabrics to stock, which ones would sell well, or what colors pop with each other. I could leave that to all the other stores out there that do such a wonderful job at it. I may perhaps sell pre-cuts one day, but for now my store is a fabric free zone.
Once I decided that my store would be notions and supplies only, I was still faced with which notions I wanted to stock initially. Ideally I would love to stock everything out there, but that’s not feasible nor does it make sense. I don’t want to have items in my store just for the sake of having items in the store, I want to have things that people want. So I did a little ‘market research’ asking around what people are buying for notions right now. I follow over 100 quilting blogs already, so I watched what the bloggers were using, and I put all this information together to make a list of items I wanted to sell. The initial list was small and included things like this book:
Written by a blogger I have been following for quite some time.
I also had the ever popular Schnibbles patterns and books on my list:
And how could Dear Jane not be on my list:
I also added a few items that I have enjoyed using to the list. Like this pattern:
Or this one:
And this chalk pencil:
Plus there were so many more items on my list!! As I poked around the websites and fliers I found new and exciting things that I had never used or weren’t mentioned in my research, but I thought they would be fun and useful to people. I kept a list of all these items in an excel spreadsheet plus the cost (lest it get out of hand). Soon I had a nice long list of items I could stock for my store. I went back and forth with myself of how many of each item to buy, what colors to stock, and how many varieties of similar items I needed. I know my store will grow as business comes in, but I also want to have a good selection for opening day. It wasn’t easy, but after talking with people I know that run online stores, and just sitting there crunching numbers, I finally settled on amounts and colors and was ready to place my order.
It took me two months to place the order for the items though. Why? Because what if what I ordered wasn’t right? What if none of it appealed to anyone? I think this is a common fear, but it would have been enough to shut down production right there. Once again though, my husband stepped in and and told me to just go for it. We have a back up plan if things shouldn’t work for some reason. Plus he reminded me what I always say “If you don’t try you have already failed, if you try at least there is a 50% chance of success!” I processed his words and swallowed my fears and jumped in and placed the order.
Thank you again for listening to my tale. Of course there is so much more, but I do want to save some for another day!! I would love to have another giveaway today as well.
This mini self-healing mat is from Omnigrid:
At 5 7/8″ by 8 7/8″, this little mat is just perfect for rotary cutting smaller blocks. The small size makes it easy to turn the block around for easy cutting, which helps you be more accurate than if you had to constantly shift the block itself. I use smaller mats like this for making a disappearing nine patch where you are making multiple cuts that must stay lined up.
All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment by January 29th. I would love to hear what non-fabric notions, patterns, books or quilting supplies you are using lately or are looking to buy. You can also just say hi! If you are a blog follower (either through the widget over to the right or through any blog reader like Google or even if you have my site saved in your favorites and you check back often for new posts), feel free to leave a second comment telling me such and you will get a second entry.