My First Quilt Show Vendor Experience

Well I now have one quilt show under my belt. I signed up (for the first time) to be a vendor at our local guild’s quilt show. This show happens the first weekend of May each year. It is a pretty good size show with maybe 250 quilts to look at and about 1100 visitors coming through over the course of the show. I was a bit nervous as I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Overall, I would classify my experience as a huge success!

We set up my 10′ x 10′ booth on Friday afternoon.  My sister, Patti, came up for the weekend to help me. It was such a  treat to work with her and just be able to hang out with her over the long weekend. She came up Thursday morning and we spent the afternoon doing a bit of a dry run in my garage. We laid out the tables, hung the banner, and selected a few smaller props that I had gathered to see what we could fit. On Thursday night, with the help of my wonderful husband (a packing genius who can fit so very much into small, tight spaces), we got everything packed up in our two cars. Ray has a truck which would have fit everything but I really don’t like driving it so we decided to use our two smaller cars.

Hard at work!

Friday morning found us wrapping up a few details and drinking way too much coffee before heading out to pick up Julia from school.  As luck would have it, she had an early dismissal. Having the three of us to unload cars and set up the booth was great. If I had done it myself it would have been a lot more work. Strength in numbers, right?

Thanks for all of the help Patti!!

The show ran from 10 am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. It took a harrowing 45 minutes for the first sale to occur. I was sure we should just pack up and go home (maybe I was being  a bit overly anxious?)

Oh no! Where is everybody??

Once that sale happened, it all just started to flow. We had steady customers up through the last hour. Hurray!!  By the end of Saturday afternoon we were ready to go home and have a glass of wine. We reviewed the day and thought of a few things to change for Sunday.

One thing I noted was we were selling so much yardage and very few precuts. The precuts were too low, out of the line of vision for our customers. Additionally, the FQ’s and FQ bundles were packed too tightly so it wasn’t enjoyable to look through them.

On Sunday morning we moved a few things around. I took the FQ bundles and stacked them on top of the bolts I had cut them from. This way if a shopper was admiring a bolt of something or other, the bundle was right there. It worked out wonderfully and Sunday we sold both yardage and a lot of FQ bundles. I also moved a few of the collections around to see if I would get better attention to some of the bolts that we had not seen any action on Saturday. This was also successful.

While at the show I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly the vendors were with each other. They encouraged me and answered any questions I had once they knew I was a newbie at this. I shouldn’t have been surprised since we are all part of this quilting community, which we all know to be incredibly kind. I had thought since we were (in some ways) competing with each other, it might not be this way.

Also, three different quilt guilds invited me to have a booth at their shows! It had been my hope that I would make some connections and it certainly happened. I have a show scheduled for September, another for November, and the third is next year. This means I have some time to work out any kinks from this show, making the next experience smoother.

As far as selling fabric, I was pleased to see how receptive my customers were to the lines I am carrying. I had a great deal of positive feedback. There were no other vendors carrying Andover or Art Gallery fabric. I live in a traditional area and normally one sees lots of repro and novelty fabric at this show. There was also a booth featuring brightly colored Timeless Treasure paired up with black and white bolts. The most popular fabric in my booth was the Maker Maker linen/cotton blend line and the Gossamer line by Sharon Holland. I completely sold out of a few bolts which was delightful. Also, the newest line I have, Dreamer, by Carrie Bloomston (Andover fabric) was very popular.

I had fun posting progress pictures on Instagram. All of you were so encouraging to me along the way. Now I have a significant amount of tidying up to do in my shop as this week gets back to normal.

I will be posting an update soon on the Sew Along that will commence at the end of June. I want some feedback on the pattern choice.  Also, at the very end of May, I will have the fourth installment of my Meet the Designer series for you (and there might just be a giveaway involved in this one!) Enough for now, I have lots of boring housework to do after ignoring it all of last week. I keep telling myself if I get the chores done today, I can sew tomorrow. That seems fair, doesn’t it?

24 thoughts on “My First Quilt Show Vendor Experience

  1. Edie Forsyth

    Congratulation’s with your 1st Quilt Show. Enjoyed reading your story, I could feel the excitement as you explained the events leading up to the show and during the quilt show. Very happy for you.

    I’m really not a quilter have made many blankets but not really a quilt. Myself I sew I love it as you do quilting. Just recently I have become really interested in quilting since I joined Pinterest. I do have a few projects I have to finish and look forward to making my real first quilt.

    Thank you for sharing your great experience with us all. Best of luck with your up coming show in Sept.,
    Nov. and into next year.

    Edie

    Reply
  2. Angela Short

    Sounds like you had fun! That’s great! I try to work on housework and laundry one day and then I get to sew the next day, like you do. I am so glad you had a great time with your booth!!

    Reply
  3. Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl

    I am so glad you had such a positive experience! And how wonderful to spend the time with your sister and daughter preparing for the show. I hope that all the housework goes by quickly and that you will be enjoying some sewing time again soon.

    Reply
  4. Ykaren s

    So glad you had such a successful weekend! Your booth is lovely and looks really professional. And congratulations for paying attention to how your fabrics were selling and thinking of ways to change things up. You aren’t a quilt show rookie anymore 🙂

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you for the kind words. I am still a rookie for sure. But those few changes seemed to make a difference for my sales on the second day. So glad you stopped by! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Mari

    Congratulations on your first quilt vending experience! I’m so happy for your success. You deserve it! Your booth looked great, and you must be a natural at selling. So glad the other vendors were helpful, too. I’ll bet coming home was great, what with all the fabric you didn’t have to lug back!

    Reply
  6. Yanicka Hachez

    Congratulation on your first experience!!! My first time is coming in June in Toronto….it is the biggest quilt show in Canada. (Go big or go home as they say) I am totally excited and terrified at the same time 🙂

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      How exciting Yanicka. Do you have a shop – is it on-line only or do you have a physical shop as well. I hope it is a success for you as well. I would love to hear what you have planned so far. Have fun with it!! Good luck. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Oh, I forgot about the jar of chocolate. Yes, that was a big draw for people. Who doesn’t like chocolate?? I will definitely serve chocolate again at the next show. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you!! It was a lot of fun – and a great learning experience. The wheels are already turning as I think of changes to make for next time.

      Reply
  7. Vicki in Mn

    Glad it all worked out great for you! I can relate to it in the sense that I do craft shows and one never knows what will sell or how much(if anything!). And yes it is a lot of work, but so fun:)

    Reply
  8. Kate

    I’m so happy it all went well for you Bernie. Like all things it was bound to be a learning curve and it sounds like you responded even as the weekend progressed. Now that you know which types of fabric sold best you can prepare for the next one. My local shops are mostly traditional too, I love shows where I can buy modern fabrics, I know I can get them on line, and I do, but there is nothing like seeing them and touching them. Well done you!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      There is always more to learn. I look forward to trying this again and to refining my booth a bit each time. It was definitely a lot of fun and I really enjoyed helping customers. A great weekend overall.

      Reply
  9. Linda

    I love this update!! Oh I am so, so happy for you – the success of your booth and the networking and the upcoming shows. I would have spent lots of time at your booth because it would be the “fun” booth! 🙂 I love anything by Sharon Holland and Carrie Bloomston, and of course I love the Maker, Maker! So glad you had that experience with your daughter and sister – made it even more wonderful. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      What a sweet thing to say Krisi! I was very happy we had a chance to visit too. 🙂 Hope to see you soon. Bag Day?? I have the robotics kit for your son in the car so I will have it the next time I run into you. See you soon.

      Reply

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