Friday, August 6, 2010

Where have all the Fabric Stores gone?...continued!


So what happened to all the family run, independent fabric stores in every town? Our old-world fabric industry has indeed undergone huge changes in the last 3 decades. Stores have closed, factories have closed, women are working more, fashion styles have changed, sewing is not being taught in our schools and current trends toward on-line buying have all contributed to this wave of change.

From my perspective, the initial assault came from those within our own industry. The large chains like House of Fabrics and then WalMart came in to crush the mom-and-pop store and build their own customer base. They would discount 70% off fabrics and patterns constantly until the shops around them all closed. I saw this happening around us and in every community. To make it worse, my own suppliers, such as Vogue Patterns would give these chains lower costs making it impossible for ANYBODY to compete and try and stave off the inevitable...the loss of our customer base. All through the 80's and 90's fabric stores lost their financial grip and closed leaving the large national or regional chains supplying the fabric needs of most areas.

I remember when House of Fabrics bought the regional chain of New York Fabrics. The first thing they did with that amazing store in Emeryville was to take out the nice carpet and put in linoleum. Of course they could never maintain the high quality of fashion goods and brought in their version of fashion fabrics. It was actually a good thing for us at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics because we continued to carry fine wools, silks, cottons, knits and linens. House of Fabrics was super aggressive in it's discounting of fabric, patterns and notions all across the country. Many wonderful stores did not survive like we were able to do.

This trend toward large retail outlets contributed to the downfall of Retail Fabric Stores and was quickly followed by a shift in other industries such as Book, Music and Video stores.

So while a great shift was happening in the lives of the home seamster, chain stores were devouring up the indie stores in every community. Then as soon as they shut down their competition, they stopped carrying high quality fabrics and notions! This has left most cities and towns without access to good fashion fabrics, like those available at Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. Now in all fairness to these chains, like WalMart, it's hard for to rationalize carrying fashion fabrics. It really is not a very profitable part of our business and we know what we are doing! It's super hard for a minimum wage staffer with no sewing experience to really sell quality silk and wool at the chains. I see why WalMart is closing down it's fabric inventory in some of their stores. Our staff at Stonemountain have many skills to help our customers and it's still difficult!

There is so much more to talk about in my next blogs...on a positive note there is Stonemountain & Daughter along with many other great independent fabric stores across North America! Check out a fantastic group of indie fashion fabric stores at FineFabricStores.com I am passionate about the survival of the independent fabric store and have the privilege of being director of this group!

I truly appreciate any comments you have and thank you for your time in this "conversation"! Now it's time to go get ready to hear some music tonight at the Greek Theater! Happy Sewing!

15 comments:

  1. I'm very thankful for you guys. I try you guys first before I go online. There is something about seeing and feeling the real deal on the bolt before buying.

    Only if you don't have what I'm specifically looking for (sorry, but your silk taffeta selection leaves a bit to be desired) do I go elsewhere. But then I do historic costuming, so my needs can be very specific.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am thankful for you too! I totally understand about going elsewhere...no one store can have it all! I wish that silk taffeta sold faster, but we can always special order it for you! thanks again, Suzan

    ReplyDelete
  3. Like I mentioned in my other post, your store is my very favorite, and it is my personal "toy store" I always leave your store with so many ideas and that is why I keep coming back.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Suzan - your store is the greatest, and I have brought so many people to shop there. Keep up the great work. by the way - I always mention your store on my blog when I get fabric at Stone Mountain.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Suzan, i'm so glad you've started a blog. I'm looking forward to hearing your perspectives on owning and running a fabric store as well as your own sewing adventures! I'm soo looking forward to the two upcoming classes I'm taking at your store!
    -minnie
    www.thankyoufornotbeingperky.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Woo,brother.No surprising that everyone would stay your blog for a long time and read your article silently. Now I am thrilled after looking at your blog and contemplating a little something delighted That i've ever experience.When I am free at home, I like to do or write some article, but they cannot be compared to you because of my poor english. So enjoy everyday of your life.
    http://tded.asia/promoteweb/story.php?title=fabric-manufacturersfashion-fabric
    http://www.kledy.co.uk/cars/raw-silk-fabric-1/
    http://www.readd.com/search.php?search=www.silkfabricwholesale.com
    http://www.youneedahost.com/aboutface/story.php?title=high-fashion-fabricsfree-fabric
    http://www.wwwooorrrlllddd.com/story.php?title=high-fashion-fabricsfree-fabric
    http://www.anybookmarks.com/story.php?title=high-fashion-fabricsfree-fabric
    http://www.imfu.net/world-news/high-fashion-fabricsfree-fabric/

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a very nice blog. I hope I can make a blog like you. I amazed with the blog yours.Stainless steel bolts Hex set screws, Cuphead bolts, Hex coach screws.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great terrific going, I really like all functions and looking forward for improved performance from your side. I'm a frequent visitor of this website and have suggested numerous people. Hydraulic winch

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is very interesting to read such an amazing articles. Whole blog was really an awesome site which I have never found anywhere. Electronics classifieds It is Place to Advertise Your Products and Services like.Online Classifieds site,Electronics classifieds,Job Vacancies Advertise.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice Post !! I like it, it also comprises a lot of useful facts. thanks to share your experience.
    Toyota Material Handling India

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's nice blog I have really enjoyed keeping up with you on this blog.This is very useful post for everyone. Thank you so much this post.

    _____________________
    women's swimwear online sale

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's amazing to your sympathetic wife that's prepared to keep up your falter morale every time in your life! You do have such an interesting blog. Thank you!

    Husqvarna Sewing Machine

    ReplyDelete
  13. Fair answers subsequently of this request with certifiable disputes and illuminating about that. Triplay coverplay

    ReplyDelete
  14. A number of us know all relating to the compelling medium you present powerful steps on this blog and therefore strongly encourage contribution from other ones on this subject while our own child is truly discovering a great deal. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year.

    -----------------------------------

    Discount carpet

    ReplyDelete