Start a quilt shop by following these 10 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 guide to starting your quilt shop. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
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 much can you charge customers?
- 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 important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Quilt Shop Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your quilt shop is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
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!
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?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
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:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
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
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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.
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.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Nextiva
Nextiva is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start A Quilt Shop In Your State
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.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
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.
TRUiC's YouTube Channel
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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.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
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:
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.