Saturday, December 8, 2007

Quiet Day at the Quilt Shop

Today was just a quiet day at Yellow Bird Art. There were a few customers, but mostly we were able to get a lot of the "behind the scenes" work done today. Not to say we don't love hearing the bell on the door announce a customer - we love our customers, even when they're just stopping by to say hello and visit for a minute. We selected fabrics and patterns for new shop samples, collected exciting new fabrics to feature at our web site - -, finished our Winter 2007/2008 newsletter and got it off to the printer, and even got some sewing done for some samples of a new fabric line - Michael Miller's "Kitschy Chicky".

Another new line of fabrics that we're all crazy for is from Art Gallery Quilts. The samples we saw at Market were the actual art works. We fell in love with the extremely fine hand of the fabrics, and oh my, the art work was glorious. We ordered 5 colorways of the Kanji prints - you'll love them too, and a nice selection of a variety of other prints that we thought worked well together, and would also be great with Amy Butler's line of fabrics! We'll have these on our web site as a bundle. I've had wonderous thoughts of handbags, artwear, and of course quilts using these fabrics! All the "Birds" at the shop share our thoughts that there simply aren't enough hours in a day to make all the projects that are rolling around inside our minds.

One of the difficult parts of running a quilt shop is defining what the personality of your shop will be. We began the shop two years ago focusing on oriental fabrics, Kaffe Fasset's fabrics, batiks, and quite a few Moda lines. We also carried a nice collection of reproduction fabrics, and homespuns. Our thought was that the reproductions and homespuns represented the history of quilting...... and we believed that was important. Well, sometimes what you think customers will purchase, and what they do purchase are indeed two altogether different cats. Our workshop last weekend with Sue Spargo ( helped us clarify things a bit. Sue told us that when she first began her business, her father (an ex-businessman) told her that she needed to focus - clarify what she was doing - not to just do a bit of this and a bit of that. So, we decided to focus as well. After 18 months of debating on whether to keep or clear our reproductions, we decided to clear out the beloved reproductions and homespuns to make room for the fabrics our customers love, and buy. It is a business, after all.

We think many quilt shops happen because someone quilts, loves fabrics and quiltmaking, and somehow pulls together the resources to open a shop. Exciting, very exciting - gets the adrenalin going at the speed of light! Then you find out that its a business. And if you don't make the right business decisions, you're not going to be a business much longer. Amy and I have been working diligently this past year in learning how to DO business. It's not easy, and sometimes not much fun. Now, it is fun to buy new fabrics, find incredible new pattern designers, or a notion that will actually make quilt making or garment making more efficient or easier. But, you have to be able to pay for all those things - preferably on time. And there's just a huge list of things you need to pay, hopefully including yourself. Mind you, this is not whining - we both love our quilt shop, especially the customers who brighten our days with enthusiasm and creativity, and we're even learning to like the organizational process of business. It feels good to know you made a solid positive decision that's going to keep the doors open, so you can get more fabric, and see the expressions of joy on the faces of your customers as they see new colors and patterns in that silky piece of fabric! And then we all begin dreaming again of the fabulous new things we can do with those fabrics!