Ask Kat: When Will You Come to a Quilt Show Near Me?

So…

here’s  a question we get asked quite a lot and you know what? It’s honestly VERY heartwarming to be wanted in so many places, so I thought it might be a good idea to explain the decision-making process that goes into creating our annual show schedule.

First of all—it’s important to explain our business model, because we’ll be referring back to this quite a bit, so here it is in a nutshell (below).

#1We are a pattern company. It’s what we do. Our most important priority this year and every year, is to design, create, publish, manufacture and finally market new patterns. Typically, our goal is to produce two new patterns per year.

We also bring a few new pieces of bag hardware and one or two new zipper prints to market per year, but those items are added to support and promote our pattern line, because… (please refer to #1).

BoothOct14-skdesignsSecondly— it’s important for you to know that we LOVE vending at shows. It’s terrific to leave our routine and get out in the public where we can greet customers that have supported us for years and also introduce ourselves and our products to folks who haven’t yet heard of us. It’s fun and I wish we could travel to MANY more shows every year than we do but we generally limit our schedule to no more than 4-5 shows per year. The reason? (please refer to #1). Because let’s face it, without new patterns (and supporting products) to keep our loyal customer base interested in what we’re doing, we’ll all too soon find ourselves irrelevant and marginalized.

Road2Ca1Thirdly—It’s important for you to know that it’s hard to choose which shows to attend and we have to consider SO many things before making the commitment to display our products at a show. Here’s a partial list of the things we have to consider.
a) The show location– as you might expect, there’s a LOT of expense involved in vending at a show. No matter where the show is located there’s the rental fees for the booth, equipment & electricity, plus typically 5-7 nights in a hotel plus food for me and my partner. For shows that are too far for us to drive to, there’s ALSO airfare PLUS the significant cost of moving our pallet of supplies & products from NC to wherever, AND, if the convention center in question is governed by labor union laws, our shipping costs can easily DOUBLE. (It’s unbelievable how expensive it can be to move a pallet of goods from the convention center door to our booth!)
b) The show attendance– Since we only have a limited amount of control over our show expenses, we must consider show attendance as we plan our show schedule. Let’s face it, we won’t be in business for very long if we choose to vend at shows where we have no hope of at least recouping our considerable expenses. The cold reality is that this knocks MOST of the quilt shows off our list of possibilities because unfortunately, show sales are directly proportional to foot traffic.
Road2CaBooth2016bc) Geography– so…since we only choose to attend ~4-5 shows per year, it just makes sense to try to extend out “reach” as much as possible. We certainly don’t want to schedule 4 shows in the Southeast section of the US, (even though we could keep our expenses down considerably by driving to all of them), because it’s likely that there would be a good deal of attendance overlap. Instead, we try to schedule our shows in 4-5 distinctly different areas of the country.
d) Spacing– It takes a significant amount of time to pack up and in some cases ship our supplies and products to a location, and then it takes a good while to unpack the crates & catch up on work after we return. All toll, we generally allow ~2.5 weeks of time away from the studio for each show, and possibly a week or so for our supplies to be shipped to a locale. This all has to be considered as we make our plans in order to avoid scheduling our shows too close together AND to give me the amount of studio time I need to continue making forward progress on our primary objective (please refer to #1).

So… with this in mind, here’s our show schedule for the next 12 months;

International Quilt Market (wholesale only)- Oct 29-31, 2016, Houston, TX

International Quilt Festival– Nov 3-6, Houston, TX

Road 2 California Quilters Conference – January 19-22, 2017,  Ontario, CA

AQS QuiltWeek – April 20-23, 2017,  Paducah, KY

PLUS— one more show in a location yet to be determined.

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And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

I hope this post answers most of your questions concerning how we determine our show schedule. As much as we’d love to meet each and everyone of you personally, we have to be very careful to not overschedule ourselves in order to keep bringing fun and unique projects to the market. (please refer to #1)

And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave them in the space provided below.

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8 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. Would love it if you’d consider one of the NJ Quilt shows, it would be within driving distance and there is a choice of 2 – one in central NJ and one in Atlantic City a few weeks later.
    https://www.quiltfest.com/upcoming-shows-and-events/the-quilt-fest-of-new-jersey/

    Would you consider going to a show other than a quilt one? The American Sewing Guild has a huge convention every summer, not sure where they will be in 2017, this year it’s Indianapolis – if you have someone to man the booth, I would bet you’d be an awesome teacher at that event, too!

    Thanks for any consideration
    Nancy

    • Thanks for the commenting and for the suggestion Nancy. We have indeed looked into both of these shows, but unfortunately as of our last check, neither of them had the level of foot traffic that we’re looking for. We vended pretty close to you this year though when we were in Lancaster, PA. Did you know we were there?
      As for the ASG show, a non-quilting event is fine by us. It’s hard making longterm plans for the ASG show however because both the venue AND the date tends to move each year. We’ll keep an eye on the latest statistics for these shows as we make plans for our 4th show in 2017. Stay tuned and we’ll be revealing where else we’ll be going in 2017 very soon. 🙂

  2. I’ll see you in Houston and show you my crossover Hipbag Hybrid! Can’t wait!

    • I’ll be there and I’d love to see it! If you want you can send me a picture now and I can still see in person in Houston in November! 🙂

  3. I’ll see you in Ontario CA! It’ll be a long drive for me but well worth it!

  4. Shannon Maciejewski

    How about thr American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan? Their site says they’re the largest independent consumer sewing show in the country 🙂 combines sewing and quilting. I have only seen your patterns there thru one vendor, and only one or two different ones. http://www.americansewingexpo.com

    • Thanks for the suggestion Shannon. We have looked into the American Sewing Expo. (That Nancy Zieman’s show, right?) Anyway, its only a 3-day show, and that’s a problem for us since manytimes, especially shows which are a LONG way from us, we dont go into the black until the end of the third day, so we wont really show a profit without the 4th day. Sad but true.