By now, you are probably aware of my little attempt to push for change at the international quilt market for the benefit of its exhibitors. This push is based on the new reality of the downturn Quilt Market has taken over the last couple of years. If you aren’t aware of my push, here are the links to several posts I have written on the subject for you to review and get up to speed.
As per my most recent blog, I am throwing in the towel on a public battle due to my belief that I won’t have any public support. That being said, this doesn’t change my belief that many things need to change with the Quilt Market and it doesn’t mean that I am going to stop talking and blogging about it. I do have a lot of private support for the crusade, but just not any public support. Somehow those people at Quilts Inc. have managed to silence the masses. That is pretty powerful and I guess scary to many.
With that, I wanted to share with you some excerpts from various emails I have received to my personal email account on the subject. I am truly shocked about how the emails to me have increased in quantity as time goes on….I guess bad news travels fast or I have some how hit a soft spot with many. The irony of the whole thing is that I probably have made more new contacts through my little crusade than I did at market. Unfortunately, that isn’t very funny. Without further ado, here goes in no particular order some slightly edited anonymous quotes from real people in varying roles in the quilt industry:
You make some very good points and one that will never see the light of day may have credibility. That is joining up with CHA, and yes they are having their own difficulties. The problem is that Karey’s show is a business for profit and she would not want to split that with anyone. Another reason why the show will never be reduced to only one show.
I’m not sure what the reasons were but this show was the worst for us in 20 years. Could be export, but doubt it. Could be the fact the whole thing was torn to pieces getting ready for Super Bowl 2017 so anyone trying to get to the end I was on had to walk a ½ mile from one end to the other…or people who decided not to brave the pending hurricane to drive to the show. Whatever…it sucked.
Keep me posted on any good comments as I too would love to see this perk up. We’ll see.
Scott-you make some very valid points…to be continued.
I am a very, very small minnow in this Quilt Market pool. I do believe that you are on the right track and something will need to be done soon. I chose to stay home from Market and spend those dollars ($1000+) on fabric selections and notions. I did spend a considerable amount of time watching Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for any updates that might come from market. I took notes and did research to find out more about the things I saw that would be of interest to my customers.
I can fully understand how it is becoming economically unfeasible for your company to pack up and attend market twice a year. It might make more sense to put that money into virtual salesmen – gather your designers in one place and have a video conference call using something like Google Hangouts. This conference call could be recorded for those who would be unable to be present for the actual conference.
We have very nice reps in our area, but they have to be feeling the economic pinch as well. It’s difficult to make a living on the road selling anything these days – expenses are skyrocketing and shop owners are way more conservative than in the past, just like their customers.
Being a small shop with a very small budget, I’m very conscious of not asking reps to come visit. I know it’s their job but time is money and I don’t feel right about asking them to drive miles to my shop and not walk away with enough orders to make it worth their while. I do use the internet and social media to watch for new items that are being shown.
I would like to join your Fix Quilt Market Crusade. The time has come to explore other avenues before it’s totally ‘broke’.
Scott, I just saw your blog. I guess I live under a rock and am not part of the QM buzz feed. You certainly lay out the issues. I’ve been thinking the same thing since I got into this business several years ago.
I’m going to be in NY this Fri for some meetings and would love to stop by and meet for a cup of coffee if you have the time.
Thank you for forwarding the below blog post to me. I cannot express to you how timely its arrival was, as I was just talking to my partner this morning about how out of control the Quilt Market expenses are. The cost to move items from the dock to the show floor is highway robbery, not to mention all of the other incidental expenses that come along with exhibiting in such a way as to be impactful. Your post was right in line with my thoughts exactly. I also read your first post, which I agree with as well.
The idea of one show per year is a good one, especially now because QuiltCon (which takes place in Feb) is taking some attendees away from the May show. There has to be a better way.
I would be most grateful if you keep me posted as to how your suggestions are received. The fact that Karey, rather than taking the opportunity to open up a dialog with you, said “if they don’t like it, they don’t have to come” is completely preposterous. Not a good indicator as to the mindset of the folks at Quilts Inc.
Enjoyed your Quilt Market post— and would like to be on your mailing list for future posting about it.
(everything you said was TRUE!)
I loved your blog. People have been talking about it saying it sounded a little harsh, but my response has been “can you disagree with anything he said?”
Thank you for getting out there. I’m interested in your email and blog. Good job.
The 9th email I can’t post because based on what is written in it, people can figure out who it is. So I am going to summarize here….The Quilt Festival was an even bigger disaster than the quilt market. This person was told that there were 60,000 visitors, but it ended up that there were only about 20,000. Said person increased their market footprint based on this and got absolutely killed. Also included was a litany of other complaints about the quality and price of the internet service, the parking fiasco, the constructions disaster, the blown transformer at the Hyatt Hotel which caused heavy smoke at the show for people to inhale, the fact that the show was filled with jewelry and crafts people when it was supposed to be for quilters, yada, yada, yada, etc. More of the same that we quilt market people dealt with minus the smoke.
I enjoyed reading your blog and agree with most of your points about the current state of quilt market. I have been in the industry since 1980 and have seen many changes. Not many for the better. I have personally felt that market has become irrelevant to attend for quite some time.
However, I (foolishly) exhibited at fall market this year. I thought I would give it one more try. And, I lost my shirt. And, I only rented 1/2 booth! I shipped the boxes to my hotel and dragged each and every one of them to my booth myself to avoid the drayage charges. I learned my lesson about that several years ago.
However, i don’t necessarily agree with you about joining up with CHA.
Several years ago, I was involved with a group of industry professionals (including two presidents of sewing machine companies) who were trying to organize an organization to promote sewing (I am using that word as all inclusive with quilting). We met several times and held several events over the course of 2 years. We got no support from the industry as a whole. So, the cost of this was absorbed by the executive committee and we could no longer throw money toward that direction. We had invested thousands and thousands. And, part of our efforts was teaming with CHA at a national show. It was not a match. Their customers were not our customers. And, our customers did not follow. I am afraid that will happen again. People are all talk. No action. And they are familiar with quilt market. the routine. the people. the venue. Teaming with CHA is starting from scratch and if you don’t have enough vendors there, the customers won’t come. If the customers won’t come, the vendors will back away.
Personally, I think there should be only one market a year. I think the industry needs to take a good honest “state of the industry” look at themselves. Creating two entirely new product lines is simply nuts. But we have created our own monster with the “new, new, new” mentality and I see no end to that plight in sight.
But the bottom line is that Karey can run her business any way she wants. She is laughing all the way to the bank. However, it is of my opinion that the product they are selling has lost its effectiveness and they need to reevaluate. But that is not going to happen. My major complaint with the tightening up of the credentials is that you are either a buyer or industry professional or exhibitor. I had many individuals in my booth that took up my time only to tell me they were a long-armer. And, may I buy one pattern at wholesale, please? I don’t mind them coming to market, but I wish the name tags would be more specific. They have an interest in being at market, but they are not qualified customers for my product.
I could go on and on, Scott. But I am tired of fighting. I (think) I am glad that I am on my way out. However, it does sadden me that I am kind of being forced out before I want to go because of the way the industry has changed. Many things that I used to include as a revenue streams have dried up with no financial returns. I am afraid I have no other options than to close my business doors.
I am a manufacturer. We stopped attending Quilt Market because we were experiencing an increase in the costs and dwindling attendance. We decided to place our emphasis in other craft areas.
We also stopped attending CHA, because it was even worse. It was a four day show. They, at one time, took seven exhibit halls. When the bottom fell out of the scrapbook market, they were down to 1 1/2 exhibit halls with no traffic. On one day, 3 years ago, almost no one passed my booth in an eight hour period. Last year, I drove down to Anaheim, after the TNNA (The National Needlework Association) show and wanted to walk CHA to determine whether I should do it again. They told me that I would need to pay $1800 to renew my membership before entering or pay $450 because I would be going in as a manufacturer. Needless to say, I did not venture forth. I later found out that it was like a bowling alley, no people.
I believe the arts and crafts industries are at a crossroads Young people who are opening small shops tend not to go to shows for they either can not afford the expense or they feel that they can find anything on the net. They text or email and are not accustomed to face to face in this touchy feely industry which is truly a shame. We may be headed for “virtual trade shows”.
I am interested in what you have to say.
I am a designer. I create designs for clothing and accessories.
I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is that you wrote what you did. It is reaffirming to know that someone besides the independent designer is seeing what is going on at market. I have read both of your blog posts and can’t possibly agree with you more. We have been exhibiting at Quilts, Inc. shows since 2002 and have seen the decline.
We haven’t attended the Houston market for the past 2 years as we saw no reason to go. The attendance has been poor and it costs a lot to be an exhibitor…and we actually live in Texas, so we can drive to that show and carry our own stuff to the booth!
We have decided to exhibit at the spring show only until something changes. Even the spring shows are not as well attended as they used to be. I have spoken with many fabric designers from different companies and we have all been talking about how good it would be for there to only be one show a year that would move around to different parts of the country. I agree that it costs a lot for shop owners to attend and when they can stay in their shops and basically have market come to them, what’s the point of going?
Market needs to be more of a destination that it has been made to be. I am not completely sure what needs to happen, but it seems like there needs to be more value added to attendance. Perhaps keynote speakers? Or how about round table discussions with designers and shop owners about how to improve business instead of the way Schoolhouse is done now? Just a few ideas. I know a lot of us have many ideas to kick around to make market vibrant again.
Thanks again for your candor. You are right that Karey is short-sighted.
It is known that she doesn’t like to have designers that “don’t do quilts” at the show, but she still takes our money. It would be nice to have support from the organizers and the foresight to see that we have a way to market fabric in a variety of ways.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to what comes of this.
Hello Scott! Some other designers shared your blog post with me and I thought it was very well-written. I’m really very much the little guy (tiny), although I share the same feelings that you wrote about in your post. I exhibited twice last year. I didn’t have a booth this year and I won’t have one next year. I live in Chicago, so I decided that I’ll exhibit at Spring 2017. My products appear in other booths’ and in other designers’ product brochures. I thought that instead of exhibiting in what appears to be a flailing Quilt Market, my output could be better spent in working harder at social media marketing. Until Quilts, Inc. can get their act together, I’m okay with only exhibiting occasionally. Thanks for the great post and for saying what many of us have been thinking.
I have read both blog entries. I know what you mean about folks being afraid of Karey. We can’t be held “hostage” by someone who has decided to run her company like this. And I think that is the crux of the problem. She doesn’t have a board to answer to who directs the way they conduct business, so she can sit in her cave and ignore that her trade show is dying. Until one of you “big guys” decides not to come, I am not sure she will take notice. It will have to hit them hard pocketbook-wise before they will want to do something, and then it may be too late.
I have often thought that if someone would compete with them for a great show with better pricing and more attractive events, maybe they could be put out of business. I know that isn’t the intention of anyone…to really put them out of business, but if they aren’t going to change with the times and make it a good show for us to exhibit, that may happen regardless of what is done.
As I am sure you are aware, Quilts, Inc. was for sale a few years ago but they had no buyers. I think until the company is in someone else’s hands, not a lot will change unless they are slapped in the face with it. I think Karey’s reaction of saying that you could just not exhibit at her show is illustrating her defensiveness about the decline. Maybe she’ll reflect on that and the obvious declining numbers and decide to do something. Wouldn’t she flip out if everyone just decided one year to do CHA instead? That would be a huge wake-up call, wouldn’t it?
As you said, it will be interesting to see what happens. Again, I appreciate your candor. I don’t feel alone in this anymore!
I loved your blog posts and they are very true. I’ve heard it over and over from industry execs, but no one has had the courage to speak publicly!
BUT I hope you don’t share my name publicly (hence why I’m sending this from my personal, rather than professional email), as I don’t want to bear the wrath of Karey. I’ll admit I’m a bit scared of her.
Keep me posted, I’ve thought quite a bit about the challenges.
Personally, I think a non-profit industry organization could revitalize the industry. Components would be a trade show, shop and maker support, industry wide research and studies (not owned by a for-profit company like F+W’s study), online webinars, as well as partnering with other industry organizations to bring sewing back into schools. To promote sewing as a hobby to the general population to grow it for everyone.
Thanks for sending me your Quilt Market blog. I did track back to the StudioE website and discovered you have been doing this for quite some time. Starting to read them now-very insightful and humorous. I have not seem anyone write about our end of the textile world in over 20 years. I am enjoying your takes on the biz, especially the QM. I hope you don’t mind that I send this out to a few other people I know in the industry, see what they are missing. I loved the history of Jaftex, seeing the old photos of your family.
I believe your QM rant was right on. I feel the Quilts Inc people are getting a little complacent. The goal of the Show is simple, get us paid customers(Exhibitors)as many customers and potential customers as possible for us to see. I had thought it would be great if they expanded their offerings re Exhibitors to have some Apparel and Home Dec>there is no other retail fabric show now, so they would have a great chance to expand. Maybe try a new location every now and then-the Southeast or Calif. come to mind. There is the attitude from them to us-hey you are lucky to have a booth here.
Please include my on your list for future information. I have been an exhibitor at Quilt Market starting in 2010 – going to both shows a year until last year. It was ok the first year I went and then I have lost more and more money each year since – due both to expenses and a declining number of customers. Thanks for addressing the problems with Quilt Market.
I am not a store owner, just a guild member and thought I would make some suggestions.
I think they should have market in the central part of the US around a major airport so flying costs would be more affordable and driving with loads and loads of supplies and decorations would be more cost effective. I also agree with one show per year as I have friends that are designers of both fabric and patterns and they normally will only go to Spring Market rather than make both venues.
Another thing that needs to be addressed is quilt guilds. Just a few years ago we had around $20,000 in our account. Due to the high costs of travel and presenters demanding that they have both a presentation and class. The guild is faced with paying for any unsold classes so now are balance is around $6000. We have a quilt show next year to raise more money, but even show attendance is down.
It appears to the lay person that a lot of the stars of the quilt world are becoming divas and making demands that medium to small guilds can’t afford. We are looking into other ways to teach and share at the local level, including guild members giving presentations or staying very local.
Any suggestions you can help us with would be much appreciated.
Good luck in your endeavors and we can all hope that America remains a capitalist country so quilters can keep enjoying their creative rewards. The economy sucks and doesn’t appear to have a very bright future.
Interested in following this and agree with your article!! Have been going to quilt market 15 years and something needs to change…it hasn’t been good. I used to do both shows now I only go to spring market.
Thanks for writing the post! Agree with it all!
I know you are tired of email about your Nov. 5th post but I still wanted to say thanks!
I am —- and have been going to Quilt Market for 22 years, though I always skip fall market and starting to skip some of the spring markets. I had a booth once near Studio e and really enjoyed the staff working there. Very nice folks.
I enjoyed your post about Quilt Market on Nov 5th and just read your Nov. 9th post.
You are right on both accounts – problems of Quilt Market have been escalating for a long time. And the newsletter reviews every year – I just laugh, laugh when the numbers are better every Market.!!!! I have never believed those numbers!
But true on your Nov. 9th post, every one is just trying to make a living and cannot risk alienation. That is the saddest commentary of all! I think this phenomenon is everywhere!
Hang in there. Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your stance! I support you and any efforts that might be made some day.
Meanwhile, I am anonymous — cause I do need foot traffic!! lol!
Hi Scott! My name is —- and I manage a Quilt Shop. I read your blogs. I saw it on Facebook (—- from —- posted it.) Anyway, I am so excited that you are speaking up. I’ve been saying that something is happening in the quilting industry for awhile, but no one seems to listen. Or maybe they don’t care. I don’t know. And I can’t put my finger on what is happening either.
So, anyway, thank you for starting the conversation.
So what do you think? Will this ever change or is this a lost cause? Hard to believe that nothing will happen when so many people feel the same way and I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.
One last comment: isn’t it amazing that so many people are afraid of the wrath of Quilts Inc.? Kind of ironic, considering that we are their customers. I sure hope my customers are not afraid of me because that wouldn’t be good in my business. So why is it good for the trade show business? Some things to think about. Until next time.
This Is The Quilt Market Complaint Hotline With Your Host Scott “Solo”