Someone asked recently how a shop owner goes about choosing fabric. Well, shop owners love fabric just like you do, and we have budgets to stick to, just like you might have. The difference is that shop owners have to choose what we think you will love, where you just get to choose the best for you.
We can shop in several different ways. All fabric companies have pretty good websites that we can view and use. Problem there is we can't touch the goods or see the true colors and scale. We save web shopping for any reorders, when we already know the feel and true color representation.
We can visit the Spring and Fall Quilt Markets. Most fabric companies set up elaborate booths to show off their designers and new lines. It's great to see samples and get ideas for display in the shop. Visiting Market allows the shop owner to see new companies and possibly add their fabrics to the mix. Only trouble here is that there are a lot of distractions at Market, with so much to see and do! Plus, this only happens twice each year in different cities across the US, so most shop owners can't get to each one.
We prefer to choose most of the shop fabric when our sales reps come to visit. We can see the new fabrics, ask questions about the lines, take our time choosing and not feel pressured by distractions. The sales rep arrives with suitcases full of samples - some actual fabric, some paper renditions. He/She opens up all the sample boards and gives a short description of each, talks about the designer, when the fabric ships and shows posters with sample ideas. Fabric orders for spring happen in the fall, and orders for Christmas happen in January!
A BIG stack of sample fabric accumulates on the table. After going through each sample, we get to make decisions on which to buy. It surprisingly doesn't take long to whittle down the stack of new fabrics. Some of the things they show don't suit the shop. When we get down to the ones we think will be popular, we have to pick the best of the best, and stay in budget! Sometimes easy, sometimes not - but always FUN!