So what is is that makes you want to shop at a particular shop? Is it price? Service? Selection?
What kinds of things are important to you as stitchers?
Before you ask, no I'm not thinking about opening a shop. But after speaking with my LNS owner, it's something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. I know things like keeping updated stock are important - who wants to go to the shop and see the same old things on the shelves. And honestly, that's not the issue with the shops I know are having a tough time, they keep up to date with new releases, but that's getting more and more difficult to do when sales are declining every month.
Here are some things that I thought of, let me know if I'm way off base.
Newletters. Let people know what's new, what's coming and what's hot every few weeks. This also keeps your shop fresh in their minds so when they do need something, you're the first place they think of.
Online sales. Make it as easy as possible to get what you want in as many ways as possible. For people who work a lot or live far from shops and can't make the trip often, it makes it so easy to get what you need. Sure it might mean a bit of a wait, but it's worth it if you can't always go in person.
Specials. Nothing brings people in the door quicker than having something on special. And often, people will spend more when things are on sale than they would if they paid regular price, simply because it gives them an excuse to stock up. I KNOW I do.
Fresh Inventory. Keep up to date with what's new, what's hot, what's selling. Put old stock on sale to clear it out the door and make room for new stuff.
Know your products. Even if you don't carry it, it's worth knowing about it, because someone, somewhere will want it at some point. Sign up for every newletter, blog, facebook page you can think of for dyers, designers and wholesalers to get the latest news all the time. Like I said, it's not necessarily having the product on your shelf so much as knowing exactly how to get it.
Of course all of these things are dependent on people signing up for that newsletter, and coming into the shop or visiting the website. How do you get people in the door?
And a few things I wondered about. Is it important to you that a shop carries full lines of threads? Or is it better if they stock stuff that goes with the charts they sell. Are you likely to purchase random colours or do you stick with what you need more often than not? Is it helpful if shops can help you do conversions? Is it very important to you that a shop carries a wide range of fabrics, or are you happy to special order what you need? I know the best option would be for shops to have swatch books of every fabric and thread imaginable, but most companies just don't offer these. And keep in mind that all of these questions are kind of dependent on the size of the shop obviously as to how much they can actually keep in stock.
I suppose for me it's not necessary for a shop to have EVERYTHING in stock all the time. It's very rare for me to need anything right away, as my hubby tells everyone - I have enough stuff here that I COULD start a shop if I wanted to. I know I always have 20 or more things I can work on while I'm waiting for an order to arrive. What I want from a shop, either in person or online is the availability to get what I want. Heck, half of what I buy I special order, and I don't mind if I have to wait a month for a backordered piece of fabric, as long as I know it's coming (of course the exception is if I need it for model stitching!!). Keep me up to date about the status of my order. A quick email or phone call letting me know it might be another week or two is all I need to keep me happy. I know sometimes things are backordered and it's beyond the shop's control. These are the reasons I shop where I do. Because they do exactly these things. Just because it's not on the shelf or website doesn't mean it's not available to me.
So all that said, I go back to my original question. Everyone has a favourite shop or website that they visit for their stash fixes. What is it that makes you choose that one over the hundreds of others out there?