It is of the utmost importance that you support your local quilt shop (LQS).
Yes, I am aware of the fact that your LQS fabric is usually more expensive than the fabric that you can purchase at your local fabric superstore. Also, your LQS will not be open for as many hours during the day, or as many days during the week. If you are not able to do your shopping or run your errands during the week and during the day, sometimes it is virtually impossible to get to your LQS. The variety of fabrics, notions and tools, books, etc. will be more limited at your LQS. Your local fabric store looks more and more attractive, in light of the reasons mentioned above, and probably even more.
Yet let’s discuss the importance of your LQS. Take a look at fabric, for example. While your local fabric store may have more affordable fabrics, either off-the-bolt or in fat quarter cuts, they will not always be of the same quality and caliber. While fabrics at both may say 100% cotton, we all know that not all cottons are created equal. Consider all cotton sheets, and Egyptian cotton sheets. Enough said, yes? Think of the fabric at your LQS to be the Egyptian cotton sheets, and the fabric at your local fabric store to be the common, 200-thread count variety. As with sheets, the fabrics show their quality by the way they feel and how long they last.
Another reason that you should support your LQS is because of the level of expertise that you will find. The salespersons at your local fabric store may not even sew, let alone quilt, let alone be able to answer your specific questions. The LQS employees, who are sometimes the shopowners, can answer all of your questions and even offer very helpful advice. After all, they are, almost without exception, always quilters themselves. Case in point: I ran into my local fabric superstore one day (out of sheer desparation) and asked if they had any layer cakes or jelly rolls. The salesperson said, “go down the street to the grocery store.” Need I say more?
I believe that the most important reason that you should support your LQS is because of the sense of community, camraderie, and belonging which they create. When I enter my LQS, I am not just a customer. I’m greeted by name, and I’m invited to have coffee, tea or juice. I’m asked how my latest project is going; did I make any progress with either of those two patterns I purchased the last time I was in the shop? Patterns, I might add, which are sold almost exclusively at local quilt shops. Long arm quilting services are frequently offered at your LQS. When I bring in a completed project, I’m properly oohed and aahed. There is always a list of classes, trunk shows, fabric previews, etc. being offered. Past and future quilt show trips (i.e, Houston) are frequently discussed. Color combinations are debated, and fabric designers are regarded as good friends (have you seen the latest Amy Butler fabrics?).
It is of the utmost importance that you patronize the hardworking, underpaid owners of local quilt shops, even if only for some of your fabric. The difference that you might pay in fabric prices is more than worth it, for what you will get in return. Perhaps it helps to think about it this way: What would you do if there was not a LQS within 100 miles of your home? Or, if you live in a rural area, within a four-hour drive? Hopefully, this is a question you will never have to ask yourself. Save up if you must to pay the difference in price, but know that you will be investing it in higher quality, longer lasting fabric. And relationships.