Here We Go Again…

I’m not as good about going thru my shop e-mails as I was when we were open every day.  I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing it’s because I don’t go downstairs every day to piddle around in the shop.  I haven’t decided whether that’s because I’ve gotten lazy in my old age, or because I have the distraction of Rick still working from home.  It’s probably more of the latter since I tend to stay upstairs where he is and actually stop to eat lunch when he’s here, neither of which I used to do.  Don’t get me wrong now, it’s been quite nice having him here every day to have tea with.  That alone has gone a long way in getting rid of my huge stash of tea.  But I digress…

What I really wanted to tell you about are the e-mails I’ve been getting from various vendors over the past couple of months.  Each of them contain pretty much the same information which boils down to price increases on both fabric and other items we quilters purchase to facilitate our need for creating and the ability to display our creations in a fitting manner.  While it’s never fun to be told that you’re going to have to pay more for the pleasure of using something you love, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us given the events of the past year.  How any independent business, i.e. non big box retailer, survived is not only amazing but a testimony to their ability to problem solve and to the loyalty of their customers.  The fact that any “non-essential” company survived is nothing short of a good-sized miracle.  Personally, I thought all along that quilt shops and similar venues were just as essential as the big box stores.  While we might not have offered food, we did offer our own form of comfort to those who would have soaked it up had they been allowed to get out and about whenever they wanted.  I actually wrote a blog post on how quilt shops were essential but never posted it as Rick feared it might ruffle some feathers.  Again, I digress…

It seems like I blogged about price increases only yesterday, but when I looked back it was actually in December 2010 that I brought it to your attention.  Talk about flying time!  At that time, I had been told by a sales rep that fabric would be going up to $10 per yard.  Right now it’s coming in at $12 per yard, although last year, or maybe it was the year before, I heard through the grapevine that some shops were already up to $14 per yard.  WOW!   

So, what can you expect this time around?  Well, here’s a little sample for you.  In future, you can expect the price of precuts to be 10% higher.  That means that the 5” charm squares you like working with will now be $11 a pack instead of $10 as they have been for the past few years.  The 2-1/2” mini-charm packs will go from $4 to $4.50.  The wire ware vendor that we’ve used ever since I bought the shop back in 2004 will have a 12% increase according to one source from which I received an e-mail, although I have not verified that directly with the vendor.   This doesn’t bode well and isn’t news that I like passing on to you.  Looks like we just might have to cut out another latte at our favourite coffee shop in order to feed our fabric habits.  Since fabric doesn’t add to the waist line, I think it’s a pretty good trade off.  What do you think?

I’m a Bit Concerned…

Last year we lost Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. A publication that was the prototype for all those that have followed. Sadly, it wasn’t the first quilting/sewing related publication to fall off the newsstands in the past few years. AQS has stopped publishing new books, and although they’ve added a fall show in Paducah, they’ve cut others out of their lineup. In the past few years smaller publishers have been bought out by larger ones. Several well-established quilt shops across the nation have closed their doors. Now, we’re losing some of our fabric options as fabric vendors cease operation or are phased out, namely Kona Bay and Red Rooster (see their posting of March 16). Why?

After being told last year by a new-to-me batik vendor that they have to pay for their orders up front, I better understood how challenging, not to mention expensive, it must be to produce fabric. While I rarely cancel an order once I’ve placed it, there have been a couple of times in the past that I felt I had no choice. I have no doubt that other shops may find the need to do so as well from time to time causing the fabric vendor(s) to be “stuck” with excess fabric that they thought was sold. Thankfully, quilt shops are usually given 30 to 60 days to try and sell some of their new fabrics before having to pay for them, but apparently not so for our beloved fabric vendors. It could be that more established vendors might not have to pay the full amount of an order up front, but still. I don’t even want to think of what the bills are for some of the well-established fabric vendors we know and love. Then there are the book vendors, the pattern vendors, the thread vendors, the batting vendors, etc. How are we to help sustain all of these folks in the current economic climate?! Not to mention the current mindset of many quilters (a topic for a future post) based on personal conversations coupled with social media discussions and comments.

“What on earth is going on?” you might be asking. Well, it’s simple really. Ye olde trickle-down effect has gone, or rather has been going, into effect. Quilters aren’t buying as much fabric as they once did, so obviously, quilt shops aren’t buying as much fabric as they once did, at least this shop isn’t. Surely I can’t be the only one out there who has cut back. While I know I’m stating the obvious here, fewer sales to shops, be they online or brick-and-mortar, means less fabric needs to be produced. Fabric groups used to have upwards of 40+ SKUs. One Benartex group several years ago had 72 SKUs! That was a lot of fabric of one type for a shop to add to their inventory for the express purpose of making all the projects for which that line was designed. More recently, some vendors have scaled their offerings back to somewhere between 12 to 20 skus in many cases. This makes it much more feasible for a shop owner to purchase a whole group rather than pick a few pieces from a group hoping all the while that they’ve picked the right few pieces, i.e. those that the customers won’t be able to live without. Vendors ha
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