How to Start a Quilt Shop

A standard quilt shop caters to the needs of crafters who enjoy the art of quilting. They stock a variety of quilting supplies and often offer additional related services. While quilting shops started out as small, local businesses, many now host online stores, expanding their client reach to all over the country.

Learn how to start your own Quilt Shop and whether it is the right fit for you.

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Start a quilt shop by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your quilt shop. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a quilt shop?

The location of your shop will be instrumental in defining its success. Choose a building that is easily accessible, visible from the road, and has ample parking. Most new retail spaces require some building improvements to ensure ample space for storing and displaying inventory. These initial costs can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. Once you have your space, you will need to fill it with shelving, furniture, and inventory. A computer and POS software would also prove beneficial, particularly when it comes to maintaining your books. Budget a minimum of $15,000 for these items, depending upon the type of inventory you plan to carry and what type of additional services you would like to offer. One long arm quilting machine can set you back $5,000 to $25,000, but will be necessary if you plan to teach classes.

Now that you have your brick and mortar stocked, you will need to shift your focus to advertising and a website. Shop owners recommend a user-friendly site, budgeting for $1,500 to $5,000. Total start-up costs start at approximately $35,000, going as high as $120,000.

What are the ongoing expenses for a quilt shop?

Business costs vary depending upon what segment of the country you reside in, how large your shop’s space is, and how much inventory you carry. Inventory and costs associated with payroll will be your two largest expenses.

Who is the target market?

Quilting is no longer exclusively for white-haired ladies. Some are drawn to traditional supplies and fabric patterns, while others enjoy more innovative projects. When determining your target market, research what needs are not being met in the area. Regardless of who you decide to cater to, your shop should include supplies for quilters of every skill level. As you get to know the buying preferences of the customers that frequent your shop, you can change out your inventory to target their needs.

How does a quilt shop make money?

Your quilt shop will generate revenue from the sale of each item in stock. To accommodate clients’ needs, many shops offer additional quilt-related services.

How much can you charge customers?

Your shop should always be stocked with quality products, catering to a variety of differing needs. Prices vary, depending upon the item.

How much profit can a quilt shop make?

Quilt shop profits are not highly published. Stores that expand to include online services tend to generate more revenue, whereas shops in smaller, rural areas produce a much lower profit.

How can you make your business more profitable?

While shop owners who only sell quilting supplies report a modest income, there are a number of services your company can offer to maximize profits. Hosting workshops and craft nights will make your business more profitable on multiple levels - you can charge an entry fee and it is a wonderful way to gain more exposure and network within the community. Many entrepreneurs choose to take their crafting to the next level, designing their own patterns, fabrics, and selling their handcrafted quilts.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your quilt shop is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a quilt shop business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A quilt shop business is generally run out of a home or the shop itself. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a quilt shop business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your quilt shop business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a quilt shop

Seasoned shop owners urge those just starting out to host an online store. With the right inventory and an intuitive site, your reach will extend far beyond local shoppers. Large billboards advertising your goods and services is recommended, as are ads in national quilting magazines. A strong social media presence is also an important part of any business’ marketing strategy. On a local level, get involved with American Quilter’s Society and make sure your business is listed on Quilting Hub.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Strong customer service and customer loyalty programs will be instrumental to your business’ long-term success. Most quilters enjoy getting involved with others in the community, so make your presence known, taking part and sponsoring as many activities as your budget allows.

STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Start A Quilt Shop In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

Since this is a highly unique business, those entering this industry should be passionate and knowledgeable about their craft. The entrepreneur who enjoys educating others, but is not opposed to working on projects alone, is the ideal candidate.

What happens during a typical day at a quilt shop?

Since this is a retail business, your days will be spent stocking shelves, maintaining the shop and its inventory, and interacting with customers. Many will be skilled quilters, but a large portion will have little to no experience. They will require your guidance on everything from supply purchasing to technique, so be prepared to spend a great deal of time with your customers.

Things evolve in this industry at a rapid pace, so dedicate time to researching the latest trends, implementing new innovations that you feel would be a good fit with your client base. Networking within the community and marketing your business should also be routine. Additionally, there are a number of administrative duties that must be tended to on a regular basis.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful quilt shop?

Quilting is an art. As a result, many new business owners fail to maintain balance between running their business and crafting. While quilting might be your passion, it is critical that you dedicate the appropriate amount of time towards building and maintaining your business. Consistent networking and marketing is critical to your enterprise’s short and long-term growth. If your wish is to focus on the creative aspect of the business, consider hiring a professional to handle the business side of the company.

As mentioned, your business will be heavily reliant on your skills and knowledge on the subject. Since many clients will look to you for guidance, the ability to communicate and teach will define your overall success. Industry leaders recommend gaining firsthand experience prior to opening a new shop. This will help you get to know the types of customers you will interact with, how best to communicate with them, and the costs associated with running a shop. The knowledge gained will prove invaluable in creating a thorough business plan and should help avoid any unwelcome surprises.

What is the growth potential for a quilt shop?

The quilting industry generates annual sales totaling over $3 billion, with over 27 million Americans regularly involved in the craft. Recent studies indicate the standard quilter spends over forty hours per month on this activity, suggesting a great demand for quilt shops, both local and online.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a quilt shop?

With the Internet, retailers must now compete with businesses all over the world. Therefore, it is imperative that your business stand out above the competition. You may not always be able to offer the most competitive prices or the largest selection, but you can deliver quality service and products. Most quilting customers cite strong customer service as the top reason for choosing to frequent a shop.

Decades ago, quilters were elderly females. Today, customers span every category. Industry leaders caution against judging shop visitors by outward appearance. As a result, make sure your shop hours cater to the needs of the working person, or you will miss out on a great deal of business. Much like the clientele, there are many niche groups participating in this craft. Carefully consider which market you would like to cater to. Is it the batik lovers, retro trend setters, modern quilters, or a younger crowd? Once you have identified your market, you can plan your shop inventory around those needs.

How and when to build a team

Many quilt shop owners have found success hiring from within their client pool. This ensures your staff is knowledgeable and passionate about the art of quilting. While you won’t likely need a large staff, each team member should possess strong work ethic, be friendly, and highly trainable.

Next Steps

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