Time Travel Tuesday: Four Benefits of a General Store

Once upon a time,  when America was young and expansion was moving westward,  most newly created towns had a general store or a mercantile.   Most of the towns were small,  and the cost of getting goods to the town was usually high,  so the general store tried to carry all the merchandise a person might need.   From guns to nails to pans to dresses and boots,  the general store was often the one place in town to buy goods and it sold everything.

As time went on,  the general store became less relevant.  Goods were less costly to move and easier to get,  so stores started specializing.  People went one place to buy dress shoes and another place to buy athletic shoes and yet another place to buy boots.   Sure it was more trips, and wasn’t always convenient,  but the selection was better,  or the costs of an individual purchase were less, or so it seemed,  so people convinced themselves it was worth the extra time and effort.

It is true that,  in some cases,  it is worth to move from store to store.  A store that specializes in one particular kind of item might have more brands or styles available.   Stores that specialize will hopefully have employees that have a more in depth knowledge of the brands and products sold.  A single product  store may have better prices because they’re buying more of that product from fewer suppliers.  There are advantages to specialty stores but,  in our opinion,  a general store, like EnMart, still offers more benefits.   Here’s a few of the reasons why we hold that opinion.

Benefit 1:  Time is precious – A lot of people who decorate are people who are running their own businesses,  who are tasked with management, production and many other things in addition to ordering.  Shopping with a supplier that offers products for a variety of decoration disciplines means you can get everything you need in one place,  in one visit.  Time spent visiting multiple stores or sites may save you a few pennies,  but it will cost you in productive hours lost.

Benefit 2: Merchandise that sells – Every store has space constraints,  whether it’s the physical constraints of a building,  or the monetary restraints of the cost of inventory.  When you shop at a general store, the items in every category are items that sell,  because they have to be.   Just like the general stores of days gone by,  the current one stop shops have to offer inventory that produces,  they don’t have space for items that are so-so.  The product offerings in a particular category may be narrower,  but they’ll be ones that sell because they get their particular jobs done.

Benefit 3: Easy Expansion – Say you’re an embroiderer and you want to add sublimation.  Or you’re a quilt shop owner that’s interested in adding craft kits.  If you’re working with a one stop shop,  like EnMart,  you can find what you need, get your questions answered and purchase your supplies easily.  As an extra, added bonus,  you’ll be dealing with a company you already know and trust.

Benefit 4:  Easy to Remember – It seems, nowadays,  that shopping is about remembering passwords, and where your credit card numbers are stored and where they aren’t,  and keeping straight which information matches with which store.  If you’re working with a general store,  you only have to remember one set of information.  There’s no stress about forgetting or confusing a password,  no worries about what thing gets purchased from what store.  It’s all in one place.

Obviously,  EnMart doesn’t yet carry the supplies for every decoration discipline,  we’ve always focused on decoration techniques like machine embroidery and sublimation in which we have an expertise.   Our goal is to give you the benefit of our knowledge, experience and connections,  so you can get quality products at reasonable prices while also receiving knowledgeable support and fast shipping.  We may not wear white aprons and sweep the front porch of the store in the morning,  but we follow in the footsteps of those men and women who once operated the general stores.  Our goal is to get you what you need, with a maximum of value and a minimum of stress.

Customer Spotlight: Judy Hansen

Name:  Judy Hansen

Business:  Quilt Shop of DeLand (Quilt Shop and Pattern/Book Company)

Website:  http://www.quiltshopofdeland.com

Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/Quilt-Shop-of-DeLand-Inc-137627432655

Judy Hansen is a quilt shop owner,  an educator,  a designer and an effervescent ball of energy and enthusiasm.  She has owned Quilt Shop of Deland for the past 16 years. Judy is also an author,  having written three books on quilting and creating over 75 patterns.  She has also designed over a dozen colorful fabric lines.  We’re proud to say that Judy will be sharing some of her skills and knowledge with those who visit EnMart in booth 2312 at Quilt Market.  Judy believes that “an educated quilter is just more fun!”  and she will be helping to create both fun and educational moments in our booth.  Before you stop by booth 2312 to see her at Market,  you can learn a bit more about her here.

Please describe your work.

JH:  I have owned the Quilt Shop of DeLand for 16 years.   It has been an incredible journey!  We started out in a small 700 square foot store,  but now own a 3,000 square foot building.  My inventory includes all the items you would expect in a quilt shop,  but our specialty is how we package our offerings and how we treat our customers.

What do you like best about what you do?

JH: Oh that’s easy  – the quilters walking in the door!  I love customer contact and interacting – having fun with the ladies and occasionally guys who quilt.  I love hearing their stories, who they learned to quilt from, who they are making a quilt for and I love my shop staff.

What is the biggest challenge you face in doing your work?

JH: For me,  finding enough hours in the day to do all the things I love.   I taught school for 20 years before opening the shop and I love to teach quilting but only do it on a large scale now, generally at Guilds,  Houston Quilt Market Schoolhouse and AQS Shows.  I also love to design fabric,  and am now with Blank Fabric.   I also design patterns and write books.  I am a big multi-tasker so somehow it all gets done.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

JH: The economy can be a big downer…many of my customers are retired and, of course,  their lifestyle comes first.

Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

JH: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to draw.  I was also so fortunate to have my grandmother live with us.  She taught me to sew from an early age.

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Was there someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?

JH: I had a lovely mentor who owned Quilter’s Marketplace in Florida since the early 80s.  One of the very first shops in the state.  She was generous with her time and advice when I was opening and we are still friends.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

JH: Do your research,  write a business plan.   It can be as simple as:

Who:  Who is your customer,  what age,  where will you find them,  this will guide advertising.

What: What do you want to sell?  If you want to sell fabric mainly,  have classes.  Also, price range,  what do you want people to say about our prices when they walk into your shop.

When: When will you be open, and will you sell online as well.  Remember your family will be impacted by these choices too.

Where:  A biggie! Location and surroundings can determine a lot.  Do you want to be a discount mart?  A classy shop?

Why:  Why are you opening this business? Passion can only take you so far.  Many business owners start with zero staff and work 24/7.

What are your goals for your business?

JH: To continue to be one of the best shops in the nation!  I love staying up to date, and our motto is: “the newest,  the latest, and the very best products and service”.

If you could travel back to when you started in this industry,  what piece of advice would you give yourself?

JH: I hired knowledgeable quilters at first,  but I soon found out that employees don’t need to know everything about quilting.  What they do need is to love people and be enthusiastic about quilting.

What is your favorite leisure time activity?

JH: My family and spending time with my 3 little grandbabies  — all under 4.  And reading!  I love novels,  mysteries and quilting themed books.  I am also a fabric designer so I draw every chance I get.

Why do you buy from/work with EnMart?

JH: That’s easy,  they have a fantastic product that my staff, customers and myself all love.  A big plus is their customer service department and easy order website.

What EnMart products do you use most?

JH: I teach free motion quilting on the home/domestic machine and I love, love, love the 50 wt. cotton!  It’s wonderful to both piece and quilt with and the variegated colors are awesome!! The polyester – over 300 gorgeous colors – is great for embroidery which is a new love of mine,  and great in the bobbin too.   Iris thread is a real bonus with selling machines too.  The thread performs beautifully when we demonstrate stitches and we give a free spool with their machine to start them off with the best.

Why do you use these products?

JH: Quality is the key in quilting – you are stitching at high speeds and don’t have time for breakage or poor performance.   Iris is simply the best product we have found for our quilting.

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The Benefits of Crafting

We all know that crafting it trendy right now.   Whether it’s turning something that would be trash into something new and usable,  making wearables instead of buying them,  creating items to express your personality,  or just finding a fun activity for a rainy day,  creative arts involving quilting, embroidering and other sorts of thread or yarn crafts have never been more popular.    The great thing for those who do those activities, whether it’s for business or fun or a combination of the two,  is that crafting has been shown to have a lot of benefits beyond resulting in a beautiful finished project.

One big benefit of crafting is reducing stress.   The repetitive motions required by some crafting projects induce a state that’s almost like meditation.    Activities like knitting have been shown to help people with anxiety disorders cope with their anxiety issues.  Just taking the time to focus on a project and relax can have huge benefits when it comes to lessening stress levels.  Reduced stress leads to lower blood pressure,  better sleep,  a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes and a greater quality of life.

Creating things,  whether it’s through using a craft kit or making your own design from scratch has also been shown to improve mental function and head off age-related mental decline.  Studies have shown that people who do activities, crafting among them,  that keep their minds active have a much better chance of avoiding problems like dementia, loss of memory or cerebral atrophy.  Crafting provides challenges to the brain and keeps the neural pathways stimulated.  One clinical trial showed that the benefits of activities like crafting can last up to 10 years.

Working on a crafting project also has mood elevating benefits,  and can help those who are dealing with depression.   Crafting stimulates the reward center in the human brain,  causing it to release dopamine,  a natural mood elevator.  There is pleasure in the process of creating and then pleasure in seeing the finished project displayed or worn.  Obviously,  crafting is not a substitute for therapy or medication if the problem is on-going,  but it can be a part of a concentrated program of treatment.   For those who are simply having a blue mood or a bad day,  crafting can help brighten things and provide focus and a sense of accomplishment.

Crafting also has a wide variety of social benefits.  People who quilt or knit or hand embroider often meeting in circles or guilds to share their work and offer tips and help to each other.  There are Facebook groups for things like quilting,  knitting and embroidery.  Local quilt shops or yarn shops often offer classes where crafters can meet others who enjoy the same activities.   Crafting also offer a way to be social to those who might be more introverted or uncomfortable in a social setting.   Doing a craft offers a point of commonality and an easy way to interact with others.

If you’re interested in gaining some of the benefits of crafting for yourself,  we can help.   Check out our Pinterest boards for craft tutorials and ideas for crafting projects.  For those who want a project they can complete in a few hours,  our Pretty Twisted Craft Kits are a great option.  Finally,  if you’re looking for supplies for machine embroideryhand embroidery or crochet,  you can find those on our site as well.

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No Hint of Lint – Ultra Quilting Thread

Lint can be the bane of a quilter’s existence.  A cotton thread that produces too much lint causes build-up inside the machine.   From the outside all looks serene,  but take a look inside and you’ll find the lint monster lurking.   Lint gums up the thread path.   It lurks around the bobbin case,  the bobbin area and the tension disks.  Lint causes your thread to lose tension in the middle of quilting. It makes your machine stitch erratically,  causing flaws in your design.  This insidious fluff can also throw the timing of your machine off or stop it from working entirely.  Lint looks fluffy and harmless but,  if allowed to build up,  it can create a number of problems for you and your machine.

Now it should be said that lint doesn’t only come from cotton thread.  Batting and fabric can also create lint,  which contributes to the build-up inside your machine.   Cotton thread, however,  can often be a huge culprit when it comes to lint production.   Because of the nature of the beast,  and how it runs through a machine, cotton thread can create a ton of lint.

So,  given that we know lint is bad,  and cotton thread is one of the primary causes of lint in a machine,  how do you avoid this linty dilemma?   Some people will tell you the solution is not to use cotton thread at all,  and there are quilters who choose to do just that.   Instead of cotton,  they use a polyester,  like Iris UltraBrite Polyester,  to create their quilts.   As we know from experience,  the results when polyester thread is used can be quite stunning,  but that option isn’t for all quilters.   Some like cotton and want to use it without any annoying fluff balls of lint.

For those quilters,  Ultra Quilting Thread is the perfect option.  It is 100% long staple Egyptian cotton.  This thread is double mercerized,  which means it has been treated to allow the dye to better penetrate the fibers.  Mercerizing also increases the strength and luster of the thread.  Ultra cotton thread has also been gassed,  a process which exposes the thread to high heat and results in a dramatic reduction in lint production.  The end result is a thread that is smooth and lustrous, one which is strong enough to run well during the most complicated quilting sessions,  and which produces little to no lint.

Now,  we understand that “little to no lint” is a subjective description,  so we have provided you with a visual aid,  the picture that accompanies this post.  That picture is of the bobbin case from the owner of EnMart’s sewing machine.  She is a beginning quilter and has now made two quilts with that machine,  and what you see in the bobbin case is the lint the Ultra Thread produced during the entire process of creating those two quilts. The small picture to the right of this paragraph is a close-up version of the bobbin case in the picture at the top of the post.   As you can see,  there’s little,  if any, lint to be seen.

We’re confident that Iris Ultra Quilting Thread is one of the lowest lint,  if not the lowest lint cotton thread in the quilting industry,  but we’re not going to ask you to take our pictures as proof.  We know that seeing is believing,  but trying cements that belief.  If you’d like to try a sample of Ultra thread for yourself,  just comment on this blog post or contact us with your name and address and we’ll get a sample out to you.

Banish the lint monster once and for all.  Get your sample of Ultra Quilting Thread today!

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Featured Friday: The St. Patrick’s Day Edition

First of all,  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone.   Are you all wearing your green and planning pub crawls later in the day?  Second,  it’s been a while since I’ve done a Featured Friday post,  so I thought I’d go over what Featured Friday is for those who may be new to the concept.   On Featured Friday,  I curate a list of blog posts or other items that I think will be helpful to people in the industries that EnMart serves.   It’s really just a list of stuff I think those who read this blog will find interesting and/or helpful.   Simple as that.

First up,  from Eileen’s Machine Embroidery Blog,  we have instructions on correcting a monogram mistake.  If you embroidered “SLT” and it’s really supposed to be “SLP” – this is a post you need to read.   Eileen leads you step by step through the correction process.  Even if you use a different software than she does,  the tips should still be helpful.

Second on the list is an examination of what Stahls’ calls 12 hot trends for 2017.  While it appears these trends are primarily dealing with vinyl,  most of what they talk about could be translated to other decoration mediums.  Mixing fonts,  adding shine with metallics and putting logos in non-standard placements are all trends that can be created using almost any decoration technique.  Definitely a lot to think about in this post.

Third at bat is an interesting post from Retail Minded about how to handle political divisions in the workplace.  The last election was contentious and people on both sides have strong views.   This post covers how to deal with people expressing those views in their day to day work lives.   It’s a very relevant post right now,  and the tips it gives can help keep your shop stress fee,  at least when it comes to political topics.

Fourth on the docket,  for the quilters among us,  a story of trying something new,  designers who say “draw your own” and buying fabric that you don’t remember buying.  I love the description of having the memory of buying one fabric and being shocked when the other fabric is received.   I think that’s a common thing for a lot of quilters,  along with fixating on finding just the right fabric to create what you want to create.   I’m sure many quilters will find what this post describes familiar.

Finally,  from Seth Godin,  we have a post about building your organization from both the top and the bottom.  I love this post because of what it says about leadership and about how much attitude matters when building a team or a workforce.   There are also some great tips for how to lead and how to create an organization that treats the people on the lowest rungs of the company as the foundation,  not disposable.   This is definitely worth a read.

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Customer Spotlight – Tricia Maloney

triciamaloneycustomerspotlightName:  Tricia Maloney

Business:  Orphan Quilt Designs by Tricia Maloney

Website:  http://www.orphanquilter.com

Blog: http://www.quiltwithaview.blogspot.com

Tricia Maloney is a quilt designer, author and teacher.   She has written three books about quilting, Orphan Block Quilts, A Russian Journey in Quilts, and her latest book,  coming out in November,  I Love Precut Quilts,  which is available for pre-order.   We are proud to say that our Iris Thread is used to create some of the quilts in that book,  and we’re excited to even have a small part in the creation of Tricia’s work.  Tricia will also be doing demos in the EnMart booth,  booth 1365,  at Quilt Market.  We’re excited for her to share some details about her new book,  her experiences with quilting,  and her experiences with Iris Thread.  Before, however, that happens,  we thought we’d let you get to know Tricia a little better here.

What do you like best about what you do?

Quilting is never boring.  One day I might be working on my computer designing or writing or connecting with people.  Another day I might be piecing or quilting at my sewing machine.  Yet another day I might be lecturing or teaching.  Sometimes I do all three in the same day.

I also love connecting with people.

Did I mention the fabrics???????

What is the biggest challenge you face in doing your work?

Time is my biggest challenge – there’s never enough of it.  I have a tendency to take on a lot of projects all at once and sometimes I get a little frazzled, but everything usually works out just fine.  If only I didn’t have to sleep……

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

Rising costs of fabric, supplies, books, patterns, etc.  The more costly things get, the more quilters have to make tough decisions about their buying practices.

Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

Yes, I’ve always been afflicted with creativity.  LOL!  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things.

As a young child, I used to love to draw toy catalogs and write the descriptions of the toys.  Later I wrote stories and poetry.  I made dolls and even some of my own jumpers and dresses.  I made my first quilt after I graduated from college and it’s been an exciting ride since then.

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Was there a mentor or someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?

Yes, when I began to seriously think about writing a book, I had the opportunity to talk to a local designer who had just written her first sewing book.  She very graciously connected me to her editor which eventually led to the publication of my first book, Orphan Block Quilts.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

I would tell people not to be afraid to fail.  You just have to pick yourself up and try again because there’s really no failure in trying.

What are your goals for your business?

I want to see my business grow steadily over time.  I plan to write more quilt books, work with a greater variety of magazines and other publications, and I want to get back to designing fabric collections.

If you could time travel back to when you started in this industry, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to do my homework.  It’s so very important to know what’s trending right now and what’s coming in the future.

What’s your favorite leisure time activity?

I enjoy reading a good book, preferably something that will make me smile.

Why do you buy from/work with EnMart?

The products are high quality and the service is friendly and efficient.

What EnMart products do you use most?

I discovered Iris Ultra Quilting Thread around the time I started my new quilt book, I Love Precut Quilts!.

Why do you use those products?

I was very impressed with the quality of the thread.  It was strong yet easy to work with for both piecing and machine quilting.  I’m really excited about the new colors, too!

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