I recently had the chance to visit five quilt shops in
two days, which is something I don’t get to do very often, as where I live on the Big
Island of Hawaii, where quilt shops are few and far between. All of the aforementioned
quilt shops I had been to at least once before, and I was struck by how consistent my
feelings about each one have been from one visit to the next.
Any quilter will tell you that every quilt shop has a
personality and an aura all its own. Just walk through the door and you can
immediately detect the ambiance inside. If a clerk smiles and/or says hello you feel
at home right away. Or, if all of the sales people are busy at that moment, but as
soon as one is free, she comes over and asks if you need help, you reassured that your
wants will be met, and your business is important to her.
One of the five shops that I visited recently I have to
wonder sometimes why I go back. It is a small shop as quilt shops go, yet each time I
have walked in and wondered around looking at the fabrics, books, notions, and the
like, and never been approached by a sales person. If I do decide to buy something,
I have had to seek out a sales clerk. Once, I made the mistake of asking a question of
a woman who turned out to be the shop’s owner, and who obviously was a member in good
standing of the Quilt Police. She abruptly set me straight about the fact that quilt
shops do not sell Thermalam™, even though I meekly explained that one about 20 miles
from my home does.
On the other hand, another of the five shops I went to is
like walking into an old friend’s home. Although I only get to the Mainland at most
twice a year, the sales person who waited on me, remembered me from when I was there
last fall, for we had discovered that we had quilting acquaintances in common. There
is another clerk who works in this particular quilt shop who originally is from Hilo on
the Big Island, so we always “talk story” each time I’m there if she is working that
There is a favorite marketing adage that goes “Sell the
sizzle, not the steak,” and the same is true of quilt shops. The vibrations that a
shop gives out as you cross its threshold are what make it different from the chain,
“big box” stores that have fabric departments, but often lack sales personnel with a
genuine interest in and knowledge of fabric and quilting.
You may end up paying somewhat more for your fabric,
books, and notions at an empathetic quilt shop, but it will have a far wider selection
and a better quality of fabrics from which you can select. I guarantee that you will
feel like a valued customer who has all the resources that quilt shop has to offer
available to her if you should need them. (And you will probably end up spending a lot
more money at such as shop. I know I did!)
An erudite quilter was Hermione Jane
who read as she quilted to improve her brain.
Kierkegaard, Descartes, Albert Camus,
and Emmanuel Kant, to name just a few.
With each block that she stitched and quilt she designed,
she read and she read to better her mind.
A hui hou,
©2004 Patricia Littlefield