Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dear KateJ

Thank you for your comment on my latest post.
What a shame you gave me no other way of contacting you to offer my response.

I agree with you. It is important to support local fabric stores as well as other crafts people.
Please see my recent posts here, here and here!!!!!

But as a buyer (both for personal and business purposes) it is hard to go past prices that are less than 50% of the local prices.

What price should we be expected to pay to support the local industry at all times?

What do other people think?

Andi :-)

33 comments:

CurlyPops said...

It's extremely difficult to buy local at the moment with the exchange rate being so good. Even with international postage, it's still cheaper to buy online from overseas.
Of course, there's never a substitute for being able to go to the shop and see it in real life and feel the texture of the fabric, so bricks and mortar shops always win on that front.
Maybe shops should reduce their prices at times like this like Aussie sellers do on Etsy to allow for exchange rates???

Holly Jane said...

Here in Hawaii it's tough to buy local, too. I try to drop money on a few yards and skeins where I can, but it's just too expensive for big projects. There's very little competition and selection, so they can pretty much charge whatever they want. It comes down to a balance between sticking up for the little shops and little shops sticking up for you. It would be great to only shop local, but sometimes it's nice to be able to have a hobby and also buy groceries.

Julie said...

I buy local but sometimes its hard to go past some of the OS deals. Its catch 22 because if I pay more for fabric for little dresses etc its makes my end product much more expensive. If I can buy it cheap, my product is cheaper and I sell more. My end product might be made from OS fabric but its manufactured here which is better than buying imported clothing, its still supporting a local business. I'm not sure that makes any sense except in my head. Sorry. Why is it always the anonymous comments asking questions, I get that too. I figure if I can't reply they don't get an answer.

rachelmp said...

It is totally up to you how you spend your money. I do both and I think I do support my local store very well too. I generally buy ranges that the local store does not stock overseas but a bargain is a bargain and my dollar only stretches so far. (and I am quite happy to sell stuff overseas if they choose to buy from me too)

thornberry said...

Hi Andi, I had this very discussion on my blog a year or so ago when an owner of a local patchwork store left a comment upset at me (and others) buying via the internet and not locally. While I can understand their concerns, the price differential is way too much. I buy a lot of my quilting fabric from overseas with the current exchange rate, and I'm not going to apologise for it. I have a budget to stick to. Someone is making lots of money with the prices to buy fabric in Australia, and I suspect that it's not the fabric shop owners. However, when you can buy exactly the same item for less than half the price, why would you buy locally? That said, I do buy locally when it suits me, or for very specific projects, or when I need to match colours, or when I need advice. The local shops that have value-added well with classes, good service, and niche areas definitely get my custom. But I probably buy more online from overseas than locally now.

Lizzie said...

Hi Andi, I agree with everyone else. I buy locally when I can but we don't have bottomless purses, if I can get twice as much for my dollar, honestly, why wouldn't I. I'm with Julie, if they can't leave contact info they don't warrant an answer.
Lizzie
XXX

Judy said...

Hi Andi, Just discovered this conversation and have to add my two cents. As a teacher and designer at a local patchwork shop I have to say I am worried about the extent of the overseas purchasing. Its not that I don't understand that it is a great deal cheaper to buy online, but from where I and my co-workers sit, how long will we even have a job at this rate. The patchwork shop owner is not rolling in it and the hours and hours spent running such a business are huge, add that to overheads and staff costs etc. and distributors who often do not even pass on a beneficial aussie dollar rate, it is a difficult business to make a living in. I love teaching and helping people in the shop play with colour and design and time is never an issue. It would be a shame to lose that one on one contact with customers in classes as well as in the shop and that is what is at risk.

Kate J said...

Hi Andi,
Sorry I didn't leave my e-mail address or any contact information. I am new to blog land so therefore didn't realise there was blogging etiquette but I don't have a blog or a website and don't know how to leave my e-mail address (I tried but it blocked me).

I am glad this has sparked this debate though. I find it interesting to hear other peoples opinions on the matter. There will be a lot of long term pain, for short term gain. I understand that the fabric is considerably more expensive here down under, but I would hate to think that my small, local craft store would go out of business. I have become quite friendly with the owner, she is a one man band who works incredibly long hours always willing to help me out with suggestions and support.

We need to stop and think about what would happen to the industry here in Australia if we don’t support these hard working business owners (and I don’t just mean fabric stores)!

Kate

Lorraine said...

I struggle with this issue too.
I buy from local shops when I make the trip to our nearest large centre but I live around an hour from the closest shop so buying online is far more convenient for me.
I have at times been disappointed with the service from some of our local fabric stores with experiences of unhelpful staff attitudes & sometimes plain rudeness.
The other reason I buy online from the US is the huge choice & all the most recent lines readily available.
Then there is the PRICE which is hard to beat.
Having said all that, I'm visiting my old hometown of Sydney next week & guess what's on the itinerary .... all my fav fabric haunts .

Jo (sparkly green knickers) said...

I had a similar comment made on my blog when I bought ribbon from OS a year or two ago. As much as I'd love to support local stores, I'm on a very tight budget. And in the end, my budget is the deciding factor in where I buy my fabric. I only really shop from my LFS when I'm incredibly impatient, or there is a sale on. Unfortunately not all of us can afford to support local.

Lara said...

Interesting topic of debate Andi! I buy online. It is 3 times cheaper for me in NZ (shipping and conversion included). I don't have a lot to spend, so what I do spend, I try to spend it wisely.

We also don't have the selection the online stores in the US has. NZ suppliers don't buy the full range nor do they bring any licenced fabrics in because of the cost.

I do try to buy my notions and extra bits of fabric from my LQS or Spotlight, but I just can't stomach paying NZ$30 a metre plus when I know I can get it for US$8 online. Especially when I know it takes me an hour away from my two boys to earn the money to buy a metre!!

But I get to go to the USA for work in 2 weeks so I am going with an empty suitcase :)

Danielle said...

There are a lot of people who do not shop online. I now do some work in the shop I visited each week as even though I could go online and buy cheaper, I loved the atmosphere of the shop, the lovely ladies there and of course hand selecting the fabric and yarn, and it was the thing I most looked forward to each week. Sure most of us buy online and if we have a lovely shop nearby no doubt we all support it. x

beccasauras said...

Not going to say too much, as I agree with everyone, I think shop owbe no right being upset, they would turn around and make a profit as fast as the next person. Instead of them saying 'poor us' how about moving with the times, and having an online store as well, or actually appreciating that most people do both!! It's only going to get bigger, this whole internet thing!

Kelly said...

I try to support my LQS, and will occasionally buy from there, but the price difference is massive, and quite frankly, I cannot afford it. Its either buy overseas or at spotlight or quit sewing, and I have no plans on doing that!

Syndey Kings said...

Agree with lots of the comments - but mainly I really don't want to feel guilty for making a wise choice with my money and getting great value if I do decide to order from overseas.

One Flew Over said...

I think if we all do a bit of both (which most seem to do) then everyone is happy!

Katy said...

In the Uk the choice is extremely limited, so I have little choice but to go overseas. My LQS has nothing I would buy - it's all catered to a much duller pallette and not my kind of thing. When I shop online I prefer to support smaller outfits - like the sellers on etsy, because I hope that I'm helping out the little guy...even if it's not someone local to me.

Amy said...

it's a tricky question. i live in a small town that has a few 'mom and pop' type stores. their prices are substantially more than the 'superstore' (target) a few miles down the road. of course i'd rather support the local merchants but it's true that i have to consider my own budget. usually i choose to support the local merchants for two reasons: one, if it's a small item and their markup doesn't equal too much or two, if my purchase requires a lot of sales help. for all else, i end up buying from the superstore. tricky subject.

audreypawdrey said...

I think we all do what we can with regards to our finances. It is interesting to consider the debate from multiple perspectives of shopping locally at a local independently owned store vs. a huge corporate store vs. a global independent shop vs. a global corporate store. I tend to buy from local independent shops when I can afford it or when I really want that new designer line of fabric. If I really need to make something, but I don't have extra money then I go to the local corporate store because I just can't afford to pay more when I can get it for 40% off with a coupon. Of course, I haven't tried the global route because I am in the US and can't even fathom spending more than $12 a yard for fabric-that is expensive fabric to me!

Tania said...

Boy did you ever start a discussion. I sit on the same fence as the majority - in theory. Were I purchasing more than small amounts of fabric at a time, no doubt the international prices would win me over. But I'm not and I do think that nothing beats the skip of the heart that I unfailingly have every time I open the door to a gorgeously presented fabric store. Not to mention the banter and sage advice at my local. For this reason, I go out of my way to support the Aussies.

Megan said...

I generally try to buy fabric for the tops at the local shops, but Thousandsofbolts is my go-to for backings. You just can't beat their prices!!

Kelly O. said...

I think a deal is a deal. I buy local when I need it fast, but otherwise i shop for a deal...
I first have to support my family on what is left after I shop for fabric so --a deal is a deal. end of story for me :)

62cherry said...

jeeez!! ANDI!!!
I LOVE my local shop I love the staff I love the help I get I love the community I love to touch the fabric I am just in LOVE with my store. However, I do buy from O/S as well. Like Kate (OFO) said doing both is a happy medium. Like Bec said - get with the times peeps - ON-LINE is where it is at - if you have a store front you MUST have an online presence as well and work it baby! Aus fabric store owners need to KICK fabric wholesalers BUTTS and let them know it is not on to be charging so much. I understand that everyone needs a piece of the pie but someone (not being the shop owners) is getting more than their fair share. As I said I love local- nothing beats it. Something needs to be done...

Lesly said...

We are in a similar situation here in Canada. Fabric costs roughly double here at the LQS what I can find online from the States, not to mention the variety is infinitely greater. Shipping charges do not change the picture for me. I do shop for fabric at my LQS, as well, and by all my notions and supplies from them. but I do a lot of online fabric buying. I couldn't find most of what I buy locally, and the exchange rate is favourable at the moment. It won't always be thus, and then no doubt I will buy more locally.

Urban Crunch said...

I'm in the US and I have a hard time buying from the local quilt shops in the area. I'm in an area where the nearest quilt shop is almost a 1/2 hour away and that shop doesn't carry fabrics I like. There is a LQS about 45 minutes away that carries some fabrics I like, but it's usually just one line of fabrics.
I tend to shop online because of the selection. I like to stop by my LQS every so often to see if they have anything I like, but I usually leave empty handed. It seems the quilters in my area are more traditional than my style and that's who the LQS order for, that's there customer.
If ever a quilt shop opened in my area with modern designer fabric, you'll find me shopping there often. Until then, it's online for me.

Kathryn said...

Great Discussion. I buy from both local shop fronts, and online from local and international sellers (etsy, ebay and actual stores) and think for me what has happened is that I buy MORE, it hasn't reduced the local amount that much...
From local sellers I buy interesting locally printed fabrics (too many to name) and staples. The OS online retailers seem to better at showcasing their wares (pics of fabrics, etc) and bigger variety but local stores have it in the "have to have it", remnants, and sales advice appeal when there is good service.
Hopefully everyone wins.

Michelle said...

I have been a quilter for about 10 years. I also am a very 'thrift' driven person. I believe people should never judge what another is doing with their money (or about anything else in someone else's life, other than their own). You just never know what kind of trials a person might have, but quite frankly, people should MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS, and keep their noses out of others. I also believe if you read something on a blog that you don't like, wouldn't it be kinder to just NOT leave a comment, than to leave one which upsets the author? In my eyes, there is NEVER an excuse for being unkind.

Of all the quilts I have made, 99% of them have been made from reused items from thrift shops. Sure, you can look at my quilts and see they are not designer fabrics, but they are in the colors I like. A quilt is a quilt, isn't it? Is it not a quilt if it is made from a repurposed sheet, or a valance which I have torn apart? Isn't that how the original quilters began? By using old clothing and feedsacks, etc? Since when it become a designer thing? Just because I can't afford (or choose not to pay $10 a yard for) quilt shop fabric, does that mean my creations are not still quilts? I think a lot of quilters have turned into fabric SNOBS. Some quilters are on fixed incomes. Does that mean if they can't afford quilt shop fabric that they should just go sit in the corner and read a book?

Bottom line for those people who are screaming that people like me are a threat to brick and morton stores....were you in danger of going out of business before I became a quilter? Do you even know that I am a quilter? Yes, I do occasionally buy online. In fact, more and more. I work 10 hours a day on my feet, on a cement floor in a factory. It's easier for me to sit in my chair and shop online, and it is delivered to my door. The closest quilt shop for me is 35 miles, but it kills me to pay full price for anything. When I do go to quilt shops, I RARELY buy. If I do, I come home feeling guilty for spending the money. The fact is, I think I still have a bag from a quilt shop that still has my purchases in it. Guilt. Being thrifty is the only way I can still quilt, pay my bills, and have a halfway decent life. Does that mean if I don't buy from quilt shops and I shouldn't be a quilter? I would bet that my joy in making a quilts is just as good, or even better than those who HAVE to buy quilt shop quality fabric to make quilts.

For those who DO buy from quilt shops....good for you. Your quilts are beautiful, and I will tell you so. But does the fact that you spent a minimum of $200 to make it, make it a better quilt than mine, made from thrift store fabrics? I think not. I bet my quilts cost under $25 to make. Any size. I use used sheets for the back. Shoot me.
be blessed,
Michelle

Matthew 7:1-5 "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye.

Copper Patch said...

I don't see why we can't do both. I love going to new PW shops as well as my trusty faves. My closest is 20 mins away (and it's great) but that's the only one nearby. I love getting parcels so I buy online too. I'm conservative with my money and plan my spending well and that way I can afford splurges when I am at a PW shop or online from OS. I don't believe there is a right or wrong.
Abbe

nikkishell said...

I've not bought fabric from o/s for at least 4 years, i prefer to support local. Having said that, i DO work in a fabric store (and get a staff discount) and i live near to some other great fabric stores so i don't feel the need to buy o/s.

Krafty KJ said...

I love how this has got everyone putting their bit in. I know for myself I will order from OS (I did tonight...) and with little children, online buying can be the only way I get fabric at times. This is balanced by support of the local of course - but mainly on sale days as I have a budget to be aware of too!

The Calico Cat said...

I went on holiday to Australia & intended to make a quilty purchase at a local quilt shop... The shop that I found had nothing but Robyn Pandolf & other sweet/soft/pale prints.

I wanted to make a souvenier quilt...

In the end I bought handkerchiefs & when I got home I ordered a kit from an Aussie shop that I was not able to visit in person & I ordered Aussie (themed - NZ Made) prints from equilter.com.

Please don't ask if I hsve made the kit or used the other items... I bow my head in shame...

Cynthia said...

It reminds me of the worry that movies would kill radio, that video would kill movies, that the internet would kill video, etc.
The market will change and what used to be fabric stores might morph into something new--perhaps focusing on classes, or on getting together as a guild might.
If the world works more effectively with fabric being shipped from huge central depots where a buyer could find anything she wanted, that is what will slowly happen.
Here in Canada quilt shops are closing too and I mourn the loss.
Cynthia

Kris said...

This is definitely not a clear cut problem. I love my LPS, but I don't think some of those from overseas realise just how much quilting fabric costs here in Australia. Last week when I visited my LPS I paid from $24/m to $28.50/m. I don't think it is all the fault of "greedy shop owners" though. The wholesalers here (and possibly in the US) are to blame. The wholesalers also seemimgly restrict the amount of any one fabric. I know there is a limit on certain moda bakeshop items here in Oz. Once they're gone that's it. Too bad that the fabric range is still only relatively new, Oz has had it's share and that's it. Of course, I can still buy them from US online stores, so why wouldn't I? It is a conundrum because I want my LPS to be there when I need it, but it just seems unfair that I should pay so much more than others do. A jelly roll might cost me anywhere from $65 to $69, so when an online shop has them on sale for $35 which would I choose? Part of the joy of fabric for me is looking and touching. But should I be charged twice as much as someone in another country for that priviledge?

I do think the LPS will survive. After all, the atmosphere is wonderful and it's a place where I can meet like-minded souls. Good LPS trade on this and base their businesses around it. I do try to shop local in all that I buy. Would be nice if it was easier!