Why not ‘Shop Online – Pick Up in Store’ from Local Quilt Shops?


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First of all, I want to give huge ‘thank you’ hugs to all of you for your kind words and encouragement after I opened up to you last week about a difficult experience.

As you might imagine, I had been a bit fearful before letting that post go public, but you reminded me once more that quilters truly are the sweetest (and smartest!) community of women (with a few cute men too).

Our ‘conversation’ in the comments led me to wonder if we might offer some suggestions to our dear local quilt shops, because it’s obvious that most of us enjoy shopping at the local shops, even if we shop online too.

My first suggestion would be to make sure they have the best in-person customer service and classes around because that’s the one thing they have the chance to do better than the online shops, right? But I’m sure they already know that.

So here’s another idea my local quilt shop owner might not have thought of yet…


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Let me buy online and pick up in the store a few hours later!

This is not a new service – I already do it at Target, Lowes, and Panda Express (yum!). Joann’s and Michaels also offer pick-up ordering (but I haven’t tried them yet).

I think one of the biggest advantages that LQS’s have is immediacy. When deciding whether to shop online or visit a brick and mortar shop, I have to weigh the benefits of both.


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If I shop online, that saves me time finding the right bolt, waiting for it to be cut, searching for matching thread, etc. But then I have to wait days or maybe a week for my order to arrive.

Visiting a shop requires more time to do the things I just mentioned, but then I walk away with my items immediately – bonus!

And then there’s the social anxiety issue which I’m sure you are all tired of hearing me talk about. But really – online shopping wins almost every time when you have social anxiety. I’m just putting it out there.


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So here’s the scoop:

What if I could visit my local quilt shop online (in my pajamas), pick out my pattern, the fabric, ask you to find a matching spool of thread and maybe a solid fabric too, and then you email me when it’s ready?

And then when I go to pick up my kids from school (mayyyybe still in my pajamas) I could pop in to you and pick up the order.

Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, we all win!


This would give you lovely experts at the little quilt shop the chance to help me with your amazing knowledge of what will work best (and where everything is in the shop). And it helps me soooo much because I will be able to sew my project that very night!

I realize that there would be some practical details to work out – like setting up a suitable online platform first. But I know from visiting Quilt Market that there are several online shop and inventory management platforms that are fighting for your business. You just have to ask them.

And what if someone orders fabric, you cut it, and then they change their mind? I guess it could happen, even if the customer paid online at the time of the order. What is your usual return policy? What if you add a ‘re-stocking’ fee in case a customer changes their mind about cut fabric? I would be willing to pay that because I understand it would be fair and I think most other customers would too.

Would anyone else like to weigh in on my hybrid online/LQS shopping idea?

Or do you have a different suggestion that you’d like your local quilt shop to hear?

Tell us in the comments – oh and if you are currently wearing pajamas I think you should fess up – I am! ❤️

xoxo,


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P.S. On the topic of shopping… don’t miss the 5 Hidden Sewing Supplies you can find at the Thrift Store!

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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23 Comments

  1. Sandy Allen says:

    Love this idea! We have had two LQS close here recently. Neither one had much of an on-line presence. I think if they had and offered something like this, I would have shopped there more.

    I’m down to having one fabric store that sells more than quilt fabric nearby as well as Joann’s. There are two more locally, but they are at least 30 minutes away on a good traffic day. Looks like I will be shopping more on-line now, too!

  2. Caroline,

    that would be a dream come true for so many of us crafters!
    xoxo, Damjana

  3. Deb E / Oregon says:

    That’s a great idea — and if they had a drive up window where I could pick up my purchase (since I already prepaid on line) I could wear a coat/sweater over my pajamas when I picked it up, too. Yes, I AM wearing my pj’s but then its 4:36 in the morning while I’m typing this….but I’ve been known to STAY in my pj’s until early afternoon on my day off, quilting! LOVE your blog – and your honesty, too! Far too many people have forgotten kindness and MANNERS in this world today & hit the "RUDE" button in their behavior at every opportunity with pride….very sad commentary on today’s world and those people. Deb E / Oregon

  4. What a great idea! It’s perfect when you know exactly what you need (1/2 yard Kona Tangerine!) and you can just pop in, grab, and go. It also fits with the future of brick and mortar stores by giving shops an online presence. Shop owners could put little incentives in the shopping bag to get you back in the shop (in-store only sales, upcoming guest teachers, etc.). Fabric manufacturers should also help these shops by offering easily uploadable images of their fabrics so shop owners could quickly add them into their online platform. Everyone wins!

  5. If they have a website, call your LQS and ask them if they are open to it. I work at my LQS and we occasionally have out of town customers call and ask us to hold an online order for them to pick up when they’re in town for their doctor appointments. We also have a regular customer that will call and make her "order" and have her daughter pick up for her on her way home.

    That being said, I’m not sure how I’d feel about having an actual online pick up ordering system. My very favorite part of my job is the customer interaction. I love talking to each person, hearing the story behind the quilt or project, helping in the fabric selection process, and giving how-to’s when needed. I’m afraid that would be mostly lost when a person has ordered online and is just "swinging through" on their way home from school pickup or embarrassed to stay because they’re in their pajamas still (I am totally in pajamas right now, and would stay that way all day if I didn’t need to work today!).

    Part of the appeal of a LQS, in my opinion, is the interaction with a person who knows how to help with quilting/sewing questions, but also enjoys this wonderful hobby as much as the customer.

    1. Melissa Shultz says:

      I can understand your point of enjoying the conversation. However, consider the fact that if you were to offer this system of ordering, not every customer would automatically switch to using technology. Most people that still shop local do so because they like the interaction and therefore you would still have that. Those that don’t care for the interaction will just go elsewhere that either offers what they need or shop online. So with your reasoning you are losing those customers that quite honestly don’t want to spend the time conversing but would prefer to support local businesses. If you are looking for interaction with those who don’t like to stand around and chat in the store you could also add a social media component to give you that extra interaction moment with that part of your customer base.

  6. Linda Rife says:

    Since I’m retired, time usually isn’t a big issue for me. However, your idea would be great for people with busy schedules. They one thing it might save me is time spent in the quilt shop. My husband is always baffles how long I take when I run to the quilt shop to pick something up. 🙂

  7. kristie jarchow says:

    I like this idea. One of my near local shops has an online etsy shop since 2009. That is a way to get your preorders in on new lines of fabric and you have many choices to how to buy what you need. I know you can get free shipping if over a certain amount or you can request or negotiate the pick up process. While you don’t have access to the whole store there is a lot there and you can message the owner with any inquiries. win win

  8. Our quilt shop already has this option. You can leave a note in the comments or note section and they will contact you when your order is ready.

  9. Melissa Shultz says:

    I think it is a good idea. Shoppers may need to accept the fact that they will "pay" for this service. Typically that type of service causes stores to lose out on the impulse buys that come along with browsing the store rather than a website.
    But I do think that local shops do need to embrace technology or risk losing business. People shop in the manner most convenient for them. They don’t really concern themselves with what the company owner prefers. I also find that most local shops tend to have very inconvenient hours. So those of us who work full time usually can’t make it into the store to browse because there is that limited time window when the store is open and I’m not working or have other plans.

  10. I love this idea! An order-online/pick-up-in-store service would definitely give me the incentive to shop from my local stores more frequently. As you mentioned in your post, it would take some time and effort for the LQS staff to build the platform on their website, photograph, categorize, list their inventory, create an online ordering system, etc. I’m fortunate to live close to four (soon to be three) really great LQS in my city. However, working full time, it’s not always convenient for me to shop in my local stores. If I know exactly what fabric/notions I want, I’m more likely to shop online. In some cases for me at least, the online shipment can be delivered to me at home – before I would find the time to go hunting for it at the LQS. If I want to browse or pick out a new project – I would probably go to one of the local shops. Great idea!

  11. michelle barkley says:

    That is an idea I haven’t thought of! What a great idea. I would be willing to mention to the LQS that I try to frequent the most to help her stay in business. I know that she has ordered bolts of fabric for myself and held it for pick up. She also special orders a particular color and held for me. I do order fabric online from a few companies, mostly if I need a particular color for a long arm customer. It’s very tempting to look at fabric online while on the laptop and order right away!! Impulse shopping!!

  12. I think that is a good idea. So many businesses do that, it surely can’t be too difficult or expensive. I actually have three local quilt shops and visit 2 of the 3 fairly often. It would be a way to get customers in the store so they could see new things.

  13. Caroline, what a wonderful idea! I have health problems which cause social anxiety and I would so much rather order from home and run to the local shop and pick it up. Or even my sweet hubby could pick it up for me which he does with nearly everything else. He’s so very supportive of my issues. I think I’ll mention this to my local quilt shop.Thanks for a great idea!

  14. I for one am tired of apologizing or having to be politically correct. We are part of a world-wide group of people that works and plays on-line. The LQS cannot expect us to stay in the past. I do my level best to find what I want locally. But sometimes on-line is my only alternative. No more apologies from me for on-line shopping.

  15. Interesting idea. For me, the issue with my local shops is not knowing what they will have that day. If I could browse what is available the same way I can with the larger shops, that would let me know if it is worth my time to drive 25-45 minutes to my local shop. I’m in a big metro area with 4 LQS, but only one carries my brand of solids (and no, I do not stray from that brand). But I never know which colors they have and if I could know ahead of time, that would let me know if it’s worth the drive.

  16. Deborah W says:

    This is a slap-the-head-V8 moment!! Surely any LQS with the ability to cut fabric, ring and bag it would love this idea, fits both of our needs perfectly. Specially since we all could still shop in our jammies at any hour, but this is especially great if you find out your yardage calculations weren’t correct, or the color you have just doesn’t do it for your project. Just think of all the busy moms whose kids remember to tell them that ‘I forgot to tell you, but I need ____ made for school tomorrow’!

  17. JoAnn Fabrics already does this. I wish, wish, wish my local shops did it too, but they don’t have much more than a front page with their address on it.

  18. Vickiejoy says:

    I think this is an excellent idea.
    I already do this with Target and occasionally Joann Fabric. And guess what? It works to the stores advantage! Inevitably, I will remember something I forgot to order, or see something on sale, and end up buying more when I go in to pickup my order.
    Besides, this is just moving along with technology. Let’s get the word out to our LQS that this is a service we would like for them to offer 🌻

  19. I mentioned it on face book but my LQS does this! https://drygoodsdesignonline.com

    I’m in Seattle and while you can’t get quite the level of service you’re describing you can order cut to the 1/8 of a yard fabric from them. It is life changing. They have a small but super cute selection of yarns and fabric and they offer awesome classs. So it’s possible! And a great idea!

  20. Yes, I am still in my pajamas! I think most of the shops I’ve visited offer this service. I’ve shopped, paid and picked up my orders later at one of my favorite shops. Since I don’t live close by local quilt shops, it’s a win/win. I know the shop has quality fabric and I can take my time rather than being limited because I may have more errands to do. The only negative is the ladies are so wonderful I miss their company but I get to see them when I pick up my order! It is a fantastic service to offer customers.

  21. LQS will eventually have to come into the new world if they expect to stay in business. The new generation do a cook majority of their shopping online. My DIL very seldom goes into a store to shop. She orders online and picks it up or has it delivered. Though I love to touch and feel the fabric, sometimes it isn’t possible time wise. I have used JoAnn many times for just this reason and it works very well. Just wish there was a way to touch and feel online… :))

  22. Barbara Gilbert says:

    Not every town has an LQS. I live in a city of nearly 60,000, and the only thing that could be considered as one is Joann’s, and I wouldn’t buy quilting fabrics there. The nearest real LQS is about 30 miles away, and they don’t put their fabrics or other supplies online; just class information. I’d have to order fabrics online, but shipping costs are just prohibitive and so are their fabric prices, generally. Social Security income has not risen with wages and salaries! We elderly are falling behind every year because food, medication, and fabric prices go up but our income stays the same. I am in my mid-70s and can no longer drive, so my poor Hubs has to transport me when he’s off work, and that’s very limiting. I now make smaller projects, and most lately are from the Waverly bolts at Wal-Mart. They also have Waverly fat quarters, and that gives me variety to a degree. Christmas gifts this year will be small items, accordingly. I have also ordered some specialty coated canvas from Amazon; my online savior for nearly everything else! And yes, I shop in my jammies at 2 AM or whenever I want, and that’s outstanding. It isn’t just the youngers that are ordering online; we seniors have been doing it since it began! I may soon have my groceries delivered, too.

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