Quilt Shop Activities & Ideas

We want to help you think of new innovative ways to bring people into your store. We all want to promote frequent visits to your store by customers. The more interesting your offerings and presentations, the more inviting your store becomes, resulting in increased sales. Below is a list of activities and ideas that you may want to add to your store’s offerings. Feel free to make changes to these suggestions to better suit your clientele. We will add new activities and ideas to this column frequently, so check back often. If you have an idea you would like us to include, send it to Joen at jwolfrom@jwdpublishing.com. Enjoy playing with new activities and ideas.   


Make Patterns Work for You---They Offer GREAT Ancillary Sales
Promote patterns as they offer new, exciting quilt designs for an exceptionally good price. Patterns are a great vehicle for increasing sales and providing interest among your customers. Don’t miss out on the opportunities patterns offer you and your customers.
Use patterns to increase and add:

  • fabric sales
  • ancillary sales (notions, tools, batting)
  • projects that excite your customers
  • new classes
  • opportunities for customers to broaden their skills.
  • new demo opportunities
  • kitting opportunities


Kits for Sale
Some quilt patterns are perfect for kitting.  Make it a practice to introduce a new kitted pattern at the beginning of each month.  This Kit of the Month can vary in style and theme, depending on the month and season.

If you live in a tourist area and see many quilters during the summer or winter holidays, be certain to make up kits.  Quilters are eager to purchase kits and other items from stores on their visits to other regions.  Tourists know they won’t see that specific kit again.

Have a list of supplies read and available at the cutting counter or the checkout counter that are both general and specific to your kit of the month. A kit buyer can quickly look over the list to see if she might need anything before beginning her project. It’s best to have her purchase any needed or ancillary items from your store at the time the kit is purchased.   


Girls’ Night Out
If you have a staff member who is willing to be on-staff for this activity, schedule a Girls’ Night Out Quilting time at your store for one Saturday night per month (e.g. 3rd Saturday). People must sign up, as space will be limited.  You may want to charge a small fee, such as $5.00 or $10 to pay for the staff member, coffee, etc.  The time could be from 6pm to 10pm….or longer; perhaps 6pm to 11:30pm.  People should be able to purchase any items during this time. Pick a Saturday in the month that seems not to fall on holidays.


Creating Open- Classroom Time
If there is a time in your store when sales are low and few people visit, make this a published open-classroom time.  You may want to have people register, if space is limited and this becomes a popular store feature. People can work on their own projects. 

When people come to the store to work on their projects, it’s just as likely that they will find they need notions. Also, they have time to wander through the store to find new fabrics,  patterns, books, and sewing gadgets that they can’t live without.  It’s an opportunity for the building of quilt camaraderie and a time when people can finish projects, so they can begin another. It’s a time when the store can have incidental sales during normally quiet selling times.

During this open-classroom time, you may want to make it a practice to make a display of the new items that have just arrived in the store in an area where everyone will see them.


Quilters’ Retreat 
If you have enthusiastic, spirited quilt customers, you might want to plan a yearly retreat for those who would like a weekend of quilt camaraderie, good food, and fun. Depending on your location, you might find an inn, a lodge, a church retreat, a YMCA camp, a hotel, or some other facility that will work perfectly for your needs and group size. This retreat can be used to have participants work on UFOs, take a project class, or work on a mystery quilt. After the experience of your first retreat, you can determine any changes you may wish to make and then begin planning for the next retreat. If an annual retreat is too much for your clientele, consider a biennial retreat.


Summer Youth Quilting Camp
In the summer, begin a youth quilting camp for kids, 9-12 years. Have the camp extend for 3 days….long enough to finish a simple project. Have the students use a very simple quilt pattern, such as Kids’ Night In. Let them select their theme fabric. You might have participants come to the store beforehand to purchase their fabric,  so it can be laundered before class begins.


Volunteer Heart and Hands Quilts
If you sell kits in your store, you may want to make up kits for those people in your community who like to make quilts for people who are in need. For these heart and hands quilts, use fabric that has been a poor seller. These quilts can be made into cot quilts that are given to children in need, homeless youth, homeless adults, elderly people, and those who are ill. 

By providing this goodwill activity in your store, you will generate sales and have an outlet for fabrics that have been poor sellers.  You can either charge a nominal fee for these kits or you can donate them, which gives you a tax contribution write-off.  Quilters who will purchase these heart and hands kits will more than likely purchase other items too. Let quilters and quilt guilds know you are providing these kits. With the kit, have a sheet listing the different organizations that the quilter may donate her quilt to.  If you wish, you store can be the drop-off place, or if you prefer, you can let the quilters be in charge of their own quilt delivery.     


Promoting Community Camaraderie
If your quilt shop is in a small community, sponsoring a community outing can be a fun worthwhile activity.  Whether it’s a baseball game, a soccer match, a 4th of July picnic, a founder’s day celebration, a 5K race, or a charity event, have fun bringing your customers and their family and friends together to enjoy a community event.