Welcome to Day 5 of How to Earn $ From Sewing and Quilting! Today I’m going to discuss picking a niche instead of trying to sell everything!
When I started my little shop, I put off opening for longer than I should have. I had supplies, but not a lot. I kept thinking – I will open, when I can afford to buy a little bit more…!
My friends finally convinced me to just open – and so I did. I spread everything out, hung some quilts and samples to make it look a little less empty, and had the classroom in the main shop area.
We had a “grand opening”… which wasn’t very grand at all, lol! But I was officially open for business!!
The best thing I did when starting to sell supplies was to get everyone’s email address so I could update them when I got more stock. I slowly built up my stock and let my customers know when I got new stuff in.
By the time I closed my shop down, I was trying to make more space for supplies. My little shop was full!! I had a beautiful range of fabric, notions, rulers, and Go! Dies.
When I closed, I had a huge sale, which by that stage was mostly profit. I then took a bunch back to Australia which I am still selling in dribs and drabs.
When I first started, I sold a lot of precuts. Fat quarters, charm packs, jelly rolls and layer cakes. These were very popular and sold like hotcakes. I was able to get more variety by putting my investment money into these precuts than into just one collection of fabric that everyone would get bored of eventually.
However, because I was the only quilt shop in town (the next one was 400km away), I needed to bring in longer cuts of fabric to match the pre-cuts. I had to try to meet all of my customer’s sewing and quilting needs.
If you are in an area with other quilt shops, then you don’t need to do this, and to avoid spreading yourself thin with your investment money, picking a niche is a great way to get started. Picking a niche can also avoid putting your local quilt shop’s noise out of joint 🙂
What is a Sewing or Quilting Niche?
When you walk into a quilt shop, they generally have a bit of everything. They have a brand or two of threads they promote, same with notions and rulers. They will have a variety of fabric – sometimes all sorts, or they may specialize in a certain type eg Japanese or Country style. They will have some fat quarters, some pre-cuts… a bit of this, and a bit of that….
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Choosing a niche is fun and can be a win-win situation for you and your customers. You will be able to provide greater variety in a specialty area of sewing and quilting.
So basically a sewing or quilting niche is a specialty area of sewing and quilting 🙂
Some specialty areas could be:
- precuts in general
- only jelly rolls
- free motion quilting rulers
- only charm packs
- quilting rulers
- pins and needles
- fat quarters
- Accuquilt Go! products
…… the list can go on and on….
Let’s look at a few of the fabric niches…
Niche down by Selling Fat Quarters
Fat quarters are a great niche. Not everyone wants to buy a yard or meter of fabric. You can get a great selection for your stash when you buy fat quarters.
I had 100s of fat quarters for sale in my little shop. Placed in strategic spots, it was always guaranteed that my customers would grab a few to add to their order.
You can niche down even further with fat quarters by having special fabrics, like cats, dogs, sewing related, golf, etc. Become known for stocking novelty and specialty prints. Once you have a name for yourself, people will be coming to you to find that special fat quarter of fabric they need for an unusual quilt.
With regards to start up costs, this is also a great way to stretch your investment money further. You can get a larger variety with less money invested.
Niche down by Selling Pre-cuts
When I started, I bought a lot of my pre-cuts from a lady who had an online shop. She only sold pre-cuts, and regularly had them on special. The business went well for her, but she got busy with another side of her business and closed the precut section down.
Charm packs and jelly rolls are great to sell because they offer so much variety in one pack. These days there are a lot of books and patterns out for the precuts, so sell or promote them together.
Host a jelly roll race, or pick a free jelly roll quilt pattern and have a sewalong with your customers.
Niche down by Making and Selling your own Pre-cuts with the Accuquilt Go! Cutter
~NB…. I am NOT an affiliate for Accuquilt, I just love their products~
Most shops buy pre-cuts from suppliers like Moda, but you can also make up your own packs. If you do this, however, I would suggest you use an accurate cutting machine. There is nothing worse than buying pre-cut fabric that is not quite the right size.
When the cutting machines first came out I was sceptical 🙂 I thought they would just be another gimick that would collect dust in my sewing room! Then I tried one! And I was sold! I convinced Nora to get in touch with Accuquilt and see if we could sell their products in Arabia. They were a great company to work with. They gave both of us sample Go! Cutters and later we both bought a large one for heavy duty cutting, so we were able to cut our own precuts.
Whenever we got new fabric in we would cut precuts to match the collection. We cut them into 10″ squares, 5″ squares and 2 1/2″ strips. Another popular precut was binding.
It is also a great way to sell your scraps. Often you can buy scraps of fabric from shops or wholesalers, or you will have them left over from your own fabric. Cut them up into charm squares, or even 2 1/2″ squares, hexies, and circles.
When you cut for your customers, make sure the pre-cut is accurate! We had a 10” die that was 1/8” off (a brand new die)… is an 1/8” a big deal? Yes, in quilting it is! And customers get very grumpy when you sell them things that aren’t perfect!!
Selling “Not Quite Right” Pre-cuts
What do you do if you have a bunch of 5” squares that are not quite 5” square?!
You sell them in packs of “Not Quite Right 5” squares”!
I had this happen to me in my shop. My assistant got a little bit excited about cutting scraps on the Go! Cutter, and put too many layers in at the same time. As I was packaging them I noticed a few looked a bit off… and sure enough, when I measured, they were not quite right.
There were hundreds of them! I checked the die, and metal had bent a bit. So what was I to do with them?
I packaged them up and sold them with “not quite right” clearly written on the pack. When my customers bought them, I reminded them that they weren’t quite 5” – remember, we don’t want grumpy customers! Make 100% sure they know what they are buying… they may not have read the packaging.
The result of this little experiment was that I still managed to sell the NQR squares, and my customers were happy to get a bargain. I still have ladies coming to me and saying, look what I made with those NQR squares I bought from you!
Another result is that I still have 100s of NQR squares…. 😊
Well, there is plenty more I could say about selling fabric and lots of ideas… but I have written enough for today….. and I have a lot more topics to cover this month…!
Come back tomorrow for Selling Sewing and Quilting Supplies – Pick a Niche ~ Non-Fabric Supplies!
PS Please remember I am answering your comments in the comment section below and not via email like I usually do. Sorry for the hassle, but I am hoping this month we can share ideas!
PPS The main page of this series is here. along with links to each post for this series.
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