Have you ever wondered how your favorite craft or fabric store determines what to carry in their shop? I have been a customer at Always In Stitches for years but recently I became an employee. It has been an interesting transition to see what goes on behind the scenes in their efforts to ensure the shop offers the classes, fabrics and accessories that are what the customers are looking for.
I was recently invited to sit in on a meeting with one of the fabric reps. The rep sat down on the opposite side of the table and began laying out swatch after swatch of fabric including patterns as fast as he could pull them from his case and talk about them. The swatches included the various fabrics included in the line. When he finished the pile on the table was huge! Then, they went back through the fabrics more slowly picking and rejecting different lines. There is no way any shop could handle all the fabric available from each rep. It was amazing to me to watch Lyneen and Capi pick and chose fabric, not based on their personal likes or dislikes, but on what they knew you, the shop customers, would like. Decision were made based on what was already in the shop, what was available with the line and what ideas they could rapidly come up with on how a fabric could be used.
Fabric that was picked recently won’t be in the shop until early 2020. The shop works 6 to 8 months ahead on selecting fabrics. Fabrics are printed based on the orders that the reps receive, and designers are working 1 to 2 years ahead so fabrics you see today started as an idea about 2 years ago!
Do you know what “hand” is in reference to fabric? I didn’t but quickly learned it was how the fabric feels. I am very tactile so running my hand over the fabric to see how it felt was so fun! It was amazing to me how different the fabric felt even with all this from one rep. I also learned that whether a fabric has a 108 made a difference. What is “108” you might ask? I did. It is a wide back that goes with the line. Always In Stitches is carrying more and more wide backs and whether a line had a 108 available was another determining factor in choosing between one line and another. Patterns available also figured into decisions.
The experience Capi and Lyneen have in making these decisions was quickly evident as the entire meeting lasted less than an hour and a half and included visiting and many discussions. It was daunting, at first, to sit in the meeting but it quickly became evident that first and last, the decisions being made were based on you the customer and what they felt would best meet your needs. Never hesitate to ask if there is something you would like to see that is not in the shop. We can’t carry everything but maybe you have discovered something that we haven’t thought of yet.