Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Scott Hop With A Point

This past December when I turned 45, I started to reflect on my past and dream about what the future might bring.  After much deep thought and introspection, one critical question kept crossing my mind.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I haven’t been able to sleep over this much lately either.  I just don’t know what I am going to do.  Are you ready for this?  Please sit down and prepare yourself….

How much longer am I going to be blogging for?

I have not been able to come up with an answer yet, but I do know that I need some more angles at a minimum.  I mean, I have the free sewing machine thing, the yenta, the macher, bit’s n’ pieces, the made up stories and a handful of other concepts.  I am going to need some more, for sure, even if I just decide to blog until I am 50.  So without further ado, I am going to introduce my newest idea which is called, Scott Hop.  This is a play off a shop hop (duh!), but this is going to be my moniker to write about some of quilt shops that I visit during the year.

Colchester Mill Fabrics.
A sneak peek of what’s inside.

With that, let me tell you about a trip that I took just last week.  I drove nearly 3 hours from my house to Colchester Mill Fabrics at 120 Lebanon Avenue in Colchester, Connecticut to work with owner Cheryl Dolloff and her associate Liz.   As I often like to do, I dazzled them with an array of products, but especially the newest January 2018 lines from Studioe, Blank, Stof, Oasis and Ellie’s Quiltplace.  You will be happy to know that Colchester will have several fabric lines from the Jaftex Companies soon.  Please make sure to visit and check them out.

This was no ordinary quilt shop compared to most that I have visited in the past.  It really was more like a full blown craft stores.  To be honest, I was shocked to see how impressive the operation was in organization, product offerings and scale.  I could go on and on about how amazing the shop was and all the great aspects of it, but you really need to experience this for yourself…if you haven’t already.  So instead of raving about all the great attributes of Colchester Fabric Mills, I wanted to focus on something else that truly impressed me and had to do with Cheryl’s excellent business acumen.

After perusing all the products that I had to offer, Cheryl and her husband, Joseph took me to lunch at a local sandwich shop.  Joseph and I had the chili which was pretty freakin’ yum.  I digress.  I always enjoy small talk and

Cheryl & Joseph Dolloff.

learning about customers and their businesses.  As we got deep in to discussion, Cheryl explained that the store was in the process of a major transformation.  No, not a paint job or new shelves or anything like that.  Rather, after much analysis, Cheryl determined that her business model had shifted and many things that sold well in the past are not selling as well now i.e. home dec. fabrics.  In other words, she needed to adjust her business model to keep up with the times.  That means less home dec fabric and more of what is selling like quilting fabric.  With that, Cheryl decided to kick in to high gear and trust the extensive data in an effort to make her business that much better for the long term…..or at least until things noticeably change again sometime down the road.  This is a bold move that I absolutely admire because it takes a lot of guts to go through a makeover.

By now you should know that I love this sort of business:  using numbers, statistics and data to make big and smart long-term business decisions.  This should be a lesson to anyone who isn’t following the numbers.  Don’t forget this important fact ever:  THE NUMBERS DO NOT LIE!  In order to compete in this extremely technological and sophisticated world, you need to do your homework and act quickly when your homework is telling you to change things up.  If you don’t act fast enough, you will be left for dead and nobody wants that.  If you haven’t done so already, make sure to invest in a useful inventory system right now and turn over a new leaf for 2018.

I hope this post resonates with all the business owners out there and you all take the time to do your own analyses and homework in order to keep your business running at its best for the long haul.  Thank you Cheryl, Liz & Joseph for your hospitality and for confirming to me that change is good….in spite of it being difficult and scary to conquer at times.

Have a great week!

This is Scott Hop Fortunoff signing off.

P.S.  Have you been able to stick to the no complaining New Year’s Resolution?

P.S.S..…Please follow my Executive Facebook page.

P.S.S.S… Also, please subscribe to my blog and get notifications when new blogs are posted.  Look up on the right side of this blog to register.

868 words including these.


Author: Scott Fortunoff

Author of Tales of 4th Generation Textile Executive Blog. President of Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. and A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. Co-President of FreeSpirit Fabrics. V-P of Henry Glass Fabrics. President of Scott’s Free Sewing Machines. Creator of the #sewrevolution.

10 thoughts on “Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Scott Hop With A Point”

  1. So true that the numbers don’t lie. I have changed my product offering over the years based on the numbers, only to have sales reps tell me that “it is selling everywhere else”. Not a helpful comment in any way. What kind of service is that to try and make a shopowner feel like they are the only one that can’t sell your goods? BTW – this was not a Jaftex sales rep – just a view from the real world of owing a quilt shop. Since you visited my store, Scott, I have shifted a little bit more of my business to Jaftex -I like the product but more importantly, I like that I can have a no B.S. conversation with you or the members of your team. I feel that you do truly want to make a difference in this industry and together we can! Happy New Year!

    1. Wow Cathy! I didn’t realize that you felt that way, but I am glad you expressed it b/c I think it sounds like we are treating customers appropriately which makes me happy to know. I also appreciate the fact that you are with me when it comes to helping the industry with the Sewing Revolution. I need everyone’s help to push the agenda and it is good to know that you have my back. I am hoping a lot more people get on board. This will be the subject of a blog coming up really soon. Glad that you are already on top of this and evaluating your business often based on the numbers. That’s the way to go. Thanks for your comment. Happy New Year to you as well. Hope you are all healed up. Take care.

  2. I love the Scott Hop idea. Not only do you get the opportunity to spend time with the shop owners, they get to see that you really listen and care. Of course another benefit is that all of us out here in blogland get to read about some awesome shops. 🙂

    Self-evaluation, whether you are talking about an individual or business, is absolutely important for survival. We all know that it’s difficult to let go of things that are comfortable for us and that includes things like carrying the same types fabric year after year. Switching gears is not easy and you may find that you lose a few customers along the way; but doing your research and being prepared helps. If you’ve done your homework, chances are that those lost customers will be replaced by new ones who have been waiting for you to make the change. Know the risks and be willing to take them. Look at the numbers and listen to your gut! Most of all, be bold in your decisions and be proud of your choices.

    Good luck to all of you shop owners! Having the Jaftex family of products in your shop will pretty much guarantee that I’ll stop in, if I’m in your neck of the woods. 🙂

    1. Morning Joanne,
      Glad you like the Scott Hop. I figured that since I visit a nice amount of shops during the year that I should help promote their businesses. Makes sense, right?
      Agreed, constant self-evaluation, although difficult, is so important to success.
      Thanks for your kind comments as usual. Have a great week.

  3. Hey Scott, I have admired Cheryl, Joseph, and Colchester Mills for years. They are always willing to help other shop owners. Their inventory is impressive for non-big chain fabric stores in CT. I was so excited to see some of your fabrics there when my sister and I attended their annual New Years Day PJ party. They are astute business people. So happy you featured them. Looking forward to your Scott Hop series! Have a wonderful week!

  4. Thank you Scott, Cathy and Cheryl!

    From the prospective of a customer I appreciate that your taking the time to review your business models and making changes where you feel appropriate. I used to love heading to LQS in my area. The last few years, many of them simply closed their doors. 1 due to the owners wanting to retire, and the others I was not privy to their reasons. I will say this, a few years ago my family’s circumstances changed… we went from 2 cars to 1, we live in a rural area with no regular buses and no trains. When the income earner needs the vehicle 5 days a week, it makes getting to any LQS that is only open 9-4 or 10-4 Tues-Sat an impossibility. It makes taking any sort of class impossible as well. We want to make this sewing revolution explode… then we all have to look at the demographics of the people who currently sew and quilt as well as the target audience of those we want to join us. I know in years past I have offered to work in a LQS even a couple hrs a day so that the hours of operation ended later, geeze I would be one of those ones who would do it in exchange for fabric. But something needs to give, an owner expanding hours would have to wait for word to get out… then spread again by word of mouth and advertising and people would, I believe, start rolling in. It all starts with taking that courageous step of going over your business plan and tweeking it to the trends of the consumer today. Thanks again for another wonderful blog!

    1. Morning Pattie,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. All I can say is that the times they are a changin’. We need to bring those good old sewing days back and I think in due time the Sewing Revolution will take hold and more quilting and sewing lies ahead for many.
      Have a great week.

  5. I was in my LQS yesterday, looking for some new Blank Quilting fabric that I had seen on your Facebook page. This store has always carried Blank fabrics. I was told the rep for Blank Quilting had parted ways with your company, and had not been replaced. It was now much harder for the LQS to get Blank fabric (a higher minimum order at the very least), so they would not be getting any fabric from Blank in the near future. BIG sad face on my part – I love this LQS, and I also love Blank fabrics. It’s going to be hard to continue the Sewing Revolution if you don’t have your fabric in the local quilt stores!

    1. Good Morning Marguerite,
      Thanks for the heads up. We did lose a couple of reps at the end of the year, but they are all being replaced or the territory is being divvied up among existing reps. I sent you an email. Please let me know the name and state of the shop and I will make sure the replacement rep is in touch. Thx and thank you for being a blank customer.

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