Wondering how to start a quilt shop? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Quilting Industry Demographics
Many people assume that quilting is the exclusive domain of little old ladies and craft club retirees. While quilting is a predominantly female hobby, the ages and backgrounds of today's quilters are extremely diverse; younger quilters are entering the craft in record numbers and causing growth-minded quilt shop retailers to rethink their business strategies.
According to statistics, the majority of quilters are married and college educated. Although the average age is 59, that number is rapidly declining as the next generation is wholeheartedly embracing the quilting lifestyle.
All told, there are more than 27 million Americans who quilt on a regular basis, generating annual industry sales of $3+ billion. Since the typical quilter invests upwards of 40 hours per month in this activity, the need for quilt shops that provide supplies and resources for a cross-section of interests and skill levels has never been greater.
Know Your Quilting Customers
Quilt customers are far from generic. While some are looking for traditional patterns and supplies, others are interested in pushing the envelope and tackling more innovative projects. You also need to recognize that while beginners will be interested in easy-to-use supplies and how-to resources, advanced quilters may be interested in quilting guilds, industry trends and even competitive events.
To accommodate your entire customer base, your startup will need to implement a customer segmentation strategy. Good customer segmentation begins with knowing your customers and researching their buying preferences so you can meet the unique product and service needs of multiple market segments.
Creating Customer Loyalty in a Quilt Shop Startup
Customer loyalty is a key element in a successful quilt shop. Since many quilters enjoy participating in the quilting community as much as quilting itself, you'll want to quickly leverage customer loyalty tactics to shape your startup into a physical and/or web-based gathering place for the quilting community.
There are several techniques you can employ to encourage customer loyalty and community participation in your customer base. Some of the most common strategies leverage quilt clubs, newsletters, shoppers clubs, blogs, discounts and weekly specials.
Best Practices: Business Plans for Quilt Shops
In a startup quilt shop, there is no substitute for a high quality business plan. The effort you invest in the creation of your plan now will pay off later in lender responsiveness, investor attention and strategic confidence.
Business plans address a wide range of issues, including startup financials. Since investors and lenders rely heavily on your business plan's financial forecasts, fudged numbers and vague forecasting are a sure way to sabotage your funding efforts.
With so much riding on your business plan, we recommend getting a firm grasp on business plan financial basics before you start writing the other parts of your business plan.
Evaluate Local Officials
This is a local business, for the most part. That means you need to get to know the local government before finalizing site selection. Are officials truly interested in retaining and assisting existing business, attracting new businesses, providing a pro-business climate for success, and offering services and incentives to small companies? If not, maybe you should reconsider your targeted location for your quilt shop.
Don't Overlook the Competition
Well in advance of opening a quilt shop in your town, it's worthwhile to see how strong the competition is. Use the link below to get a list of local competitors in your area. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of quilt shops that are close by.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
If you are seriously contemplating launching a quilt shop, you really ought to learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. What's in it for them?
However, an entrepreneur who owns a quilt shop in a different city will be much more likely to talk with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
What's the best way to find an owner of a quilt shop that lives outside of your area?
Easy. Find them using our link below and start calling until you are successful.
Financial Benefits of Buying a Quilt Shop
Worried about the financial aspects of starting a quilt shop? Most startup quilt shop owners are.
Although there are many benefits to buying an existing quilt shop, the financial advantages rank near the top of the list. Established quilt shops have reliable revenue streams and loyal customer bases – both of which will shape your company's financial landscape.
An acquired business also has documented assets and earnings - a big advantage with lenders and investors.
Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go
As an entrepreneur, your chances being a successful business owner immediately improve if you go the franchising route and benefit from the prior work of others and their lessons learned.
Before you consider starting a quilt shop, it's worthwhile to assess whether franchising might help you avoid common entrepreneurial mistakes.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.
If you sell to quilt shops, this isn't the right place for you. Try these resources instead:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.