Welcome to Day 8 of How to Earn $ From Sewing and Quilting! Today we are going to talk about how and where to sell sewing and quilting supplies…
So you have decided it’d be fun to sell sewing and quilting supplies (after all, that means you get your own supplies cheaper, right?!). You’ve gone to the wholesalers, set up accounts, done all that jazz…… now what? Where do you sell all the stuff you invested in? How do you get rid of it and start making a profit?!
Never fear, I have some ideas for you… in fact, I have 5! You can do one, two, or all of them 🙂
Let’s get started!
1. Selling Sewing and Quilting Supplies in a Retail Shop
(Awesome quilt shop in Dubai – Classic Quilts!)
Ok, so this is the most obvious place to sell your supplies. Start a real shop! This will of course involve renting premises, looking into insurances, and all the permits that you will need. Depending on your local council, you will need permits for all sorts of thing… like I mentioned in this post, in our area in Australia I would have needed:
- a permit to place items for sale outside on the sidewalk in front of my shop
- a permit to sell food or serve tea and coffee
- a permit to play music (no permit needed to play the radio)
- a permit to have a sign outside the shop
- a permit to have a neon sign in the shop window
- a permit to have a chair and table outside the shop
- a permit to have classes on the premises
- a certain amount of available car parking spaces
- etc, etc, etc……
Is that making your head spin? It made mine spin… then there was all the insurances… contents, building, public liability… I am sure I would have managed all of that in the end, all except the permit to hold classes. That would have required putting in a building plan and all sorts of nonsense. In the end, I was just going to have retail, not play music, not have anything outside, and not serve food 🙂
I do believe if I had set up the shop it would have been successful. The rent in our area is cheap, and we get a lot of drive through traffic going between Ballarat and Adelaide. However, things changed and I moved to Arabia 🙂 But it is still on the cards when we go back one day…. (if I haven’t retired by then!).
So this option has a lot of overheads. You would have to make sure you are going to sell enough to cover the rent, utilities and all the permits and insurance you need. If you stayed small, you would not need to employ anyone. You can easily handle a small retail quilt shop on your own. Of course if your business is going well and you need to hire someone, then that also means you should be able to afford it.
When I had my little shop I had three ladies helping… because I was only open two days a week, they would take turns in busy times to help out. When the shop was open, I’d get a lot of ladies coming at once…. and they had drivers waiting for them, so we got two cutting tables going in an attempt to let them shop quickly!
Let’s look at some other options with less costly overheads…
2. Selling Sewing and Quilting Supplies from Your Home
This is quite a popular one for small business owners who are just starting out, or are not aiming to go “big”. I know a lot of ladies in my country town and surrounds who run a business from home, be it with sewing and quilting supplies, or other crafts, gifts, etc.
This option obviously cuts out the need to pay for rent. You will still need to look into relevant permits and insurance, but the overheads are much less.
You can have a room set up in your house with all your supplies, and have your set opening hours. This option obviously also goes well with teaching classes, as you can teach at home and have supplies available to your students.
I mentioned a friend before who teaches dressmaking from her home. She actually built a gorgeous little cottage in her back yard with a kitchen and bathroom, all separate from the main house. This way no one goes into her house and it is all self contained. She has large cutting tables, individual tables set up for students and then basic dressmaking supplies. That would be my dream!! Obviously there was cost involved in building the cottage, but it is perfect for her and an added investment for her property.
Having your “shop” in your home has some disadvantages… you really have to force yourself to have “shop times”, and not be tempted to work there all the time. But more than that, you can have people calling you outside your set business hours asking if they can just drop in to buy something real quick…. 🙂 I had that with my shop in Arabia. At first I said yes… then I learned to say no!
3. Selling Sewing and Quilting Supplies Online
This has become the modern way to buy and sell. I’m sure many physical retail shops are closing and will close as it becomes more popular to just pop on the net and do your shopping.
The overheads for this are generally low as well. What your biggest investment will be is…. time! You will need to take good photos of all your products, and so setting up your online shop will take a LOT of time initially.
Ebay is probably the most popular, easy and cost effective way to sell supplies. Anyone can set up an account and there are plenty of tutorials and help out there on how to do that, how much it will cost, etc. I know people who run a great little business just by selling on ebay.
Other costs involved are postage – but this is generally paid by the buyer, so no cost to you. You may want to lower your prices to make up for it a bit, however, otherwise your customers will just as likely go to a shop in the neighborhood to save on shipping. Also, many ebay vendors offer free shipping… sometimes I wonder how they make any profit at all….
Selling fabric online is a bit tricky. The photo of the fabric really has to be good quality and showing it’s true color. I haven’t bought fabric off ebay, have you? Did it look as you expected?
I think there is definitely a place for buying fabric online, but if I wanted to match something to a fabric I already have, then I would prefer to do that in a real shop.
Precuts would be a great thing to sell online because there are plenty of good photos of the different collections available, and people would be sure of what they are buying.
I haven’t personally sold online, and now that I live in Arabia, there is no way I could do that because of the postal system – it would be too difficult and too expensive.
4. Selling Sewing and Quilting Supplies at Markets or Craft Fairs
Another relatively low overhead option is to sell your wares at markets. The cost of renting a table is usually reasonable, and the most work involved is setting up and then packing up later. In all my years of selling at markets I think I have only once not sold enough to cover the cost of the table – but that was a particularly bad venue! (So tip of the day for this section is pick the right markets!)
To save time setting up and packing up later, it is great if you have baskets and custom made displays like in the photo above. This makes it much easier and helps with storage when you are not on the road selling.
In Arabia I would regularly go to markets to sell ready made items and promote the shop. I would always put in precuts, fat quarters, buttons and other sewing and quilting supplies to add to the variety on my table. Even my regular shop customers would often buy these because they might not have seen the particular precuts in the shop (because it was full) or they might have seen them in the shop and wondered if they should buy it or not… and seeing it at the market was the little push they needed!
5. Selling Sewing and Quilting Supplies at Other People’s Homes
If we can have kitchenware, scrapbooking and linen parties in our homes, why can’t we have fabric or quilting parties?!
Party plan selling is great fun for everyone concerned. There is no set formula for a quilting party – you can be creative.
Ask a friend to host your first party and decide on an awesome hostess gift. As with other party plans, encourage others to book a party at their home. Offer incentives of course.
If you are already selling at markets, you will have all your stock organized and can just bring it to someone’s home and set up there. Make sure there is tea, coffee, and nibbles. (This is usually done by the hostess, but of course you can chip in!)
Have a demonstration of a certain quilting technique, or a tool… At my first one I did a demonstration of the Go! cutter, which everyone loved. I was also selling kits made up from Go! precuts, so the ladies bought a few of them that day.
(See those bundles of charms on the right?! They are the Not Quite Right packs…! Still trying to get rid of them 🙂 )
Well, I have reached over 1600 words on this post, so it is time to stop! Hope you made it this far!
There is so much more to say about the topic of Selling Sewing and Quilting supplies, but I have run out of time… tomorrow we are going to move on to the next topic: How to Earn $ from Sewing and Quilting – Teaching Others How to Sew and Quilt
See you tomorrow!
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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