The Perfect Quilt Shop

On the fabric topic, many of you mentioned what you like and dislike about quilt shops.  How about you leave a comment and leave four or five things, in order of importance, that you like in a quilt shop.  Please don’t say the name of any shops you’ve disliked but if you’ve had experiences that absolutely positively caused you to never return to a shop, what were those experiences?

Friendly, helpful store employees who seem to appreciate my business is important.  A great selection of fabric is important.  Nice samples . . lots of samples that change often is important.

Things I don’t like . . animals in the shop.  I love my dog and I love Jazz (the dog who’s visiting does have a name) but I don’t enjoy visiting shops that have cats or dogs inside.

I visited three shops last week.  Two were good.  One was outstanding.  All three of them were a bit out of the way.  The one, I’d go back to in a heartbeat if I were in the vicinity.  The other two . . maybe or maybe not . . depending on what else was on the agenda.  What made the one stand out?  Very friendly shop owner and employees, roomy shop with lots of light and lots of fabric, a good sale rack . . it was just a good fit for me.

And you know what’s funny?  There’s always someone who loves the shops I dislike.  Just goes to prove that there’s something for everyone somewhere.  🙂

So, share what’s important to you in a shop.



  1. 1


    I love a quilt shop that fabrics are organized, on an upright bolt and touchable.

    I enjoy friendly people who appreciate my business too, even if I only buy sale items. Maybe that’s all I can afford that day, but my referals and money will bring me back and expand the business.

    I like shops that will answer questions, when asked of them. I really don’t like pushy, hovering sales people.

    I like clean, bright, pet free shops.

    I dislike only trendy fabrics, off the bolt flat folds, and kit only shops.

    I dislike shops that don’t keep their advertised hours consistnely (emergencies happen, but I travelled a long way so stop by !)

    I love a sale!!

  2. 2

    Carla says

    The things I look for in a quilt shop are

    1.Employees that are friendly and willing to help and don’t make me feel like I’m bothering them
    2.A diverse selection of fabrics
    3.Good lighting
    4.Clean, Cheery Shop

    Things I don’t like

    1.Pets in the shop, There is a small quilt shop, I thought I would try, She had her dog there to keep her company, while I was trying to look through the fabric the dog keep trying to get me to play with him.
    2.Smell, I have been in a quilt shop that smelled musty, she had great fabrics, but I will never go back.
    3.Small quilt shops When I say small I mean small, ( 2 5x 7 rooms)
    4.Pushy help, If you use that fabric then you have to use this fabric (yes, I have been told that)
    That about sums it up for me

  3. 3


    I have no color sense at all. I go to a quilt shop that has someone to assist me in assembly the fabrics that will look great together.

    What I don’t like is a crabby negative person that says when I walk in the door “What are you doing here, you couldn’t have finished using what you bought last week.” Yes that has happened in that shop on several occasions. It is the closest shop to me and I have to stop in for thread or needles or other necessities but I have stopped buying fabric there unless I need binding to finish something.

    I go to Thousands Of Bolts more and more. They are helpful and the price is right.

  4. 4

    Donna says

    I enjoy shops with lots of samples. Also love a good sale area. My favorite shop has a great sale area with real mark downs. I visit this shop every time I visit my parents. It is 120 miles from me, but I always keep a list of things to look for when I get to visit. It is a bright, roomy, cheerful shop with a friendly staff and owner. Friendliness is a must for me. This shop takes time to know their customers. If I shop there with my parents I always hear how much they love my parents and enjoy them. If I shop there alone I am always asked about my parents and told how much they love and enjoy them. The staff is always the same with or without the owner present. When a tornado hit the small town I live in and killed 8 people in February, my mother was asked the next day if her daughter was okay. How many retail people remember customers and their home towns to this degree. I don’t see them very often(maybe 6-8 times a year), yet they remember my name and home town. You gotta love people like that!

    They also keep a great selection of fabrics, from trendy to traditional. The seasonal selection is the best I have ever seen. You don’t have to wait for the season to roll around to start a project as the selection is good year round.

    This makes me want to make the drive to see them soon!

    • 4.1


      I patronize local shops because I’ll put up with annoyances just to keep them in business, but there are 3 shops about 175 mi. away I’d much rather give my business to. They seem to have all or most of the following qualities:

      Likes –
      A cross-section of fabrics (arty, batik, repro) displayed NEATLY, logically, and accessibly.

      Courteous staff who make a suggestion (an upcoming class, new shipment, latest book), but let me browse as long as I wish without hovering.

      Incentives like a free yard after purchasing a certain number or a free notion (thread, needles, pins) for spending a certain amount.

      Frequently-changing shop samples.

      A shop newsletter, either by mail or email.

      Grumps. Period.

      Shops that look like a bargain basement jumble sale.

      Shops that don’t reward loyal customers in some way (see above, or a private sale once a year).

      As for pets, I don’t have one but if he/she is well-behaved I’m always happy to get a friendly wag.

      This is a personal peeve, but I often find quilt shop staff to be excessively LOUD. I avoid one excellent shop near me because the ceilings are low and the owner & staff all SPEAK TO EACH OTHER IN SCREAMS. I have literally jumped on occasion when they unexpectedly offer their help. In another shop the staff seem to enjoy each other too much–the laughter and shrieking are a distraction and unprofessional. Sometimes I feel like a party poop when I interrupt to ask for help!

  5. 5


    We have 3 quilt shops here in town. 2 of them are marginal at best, but handy to have in a pinch. The one with the most space has the fewest fabrics(what sense does that make?) that shop is good for repros but thats it. The second one tries really hard, so i’ll give them credit for that but again its small and has not much for selection. The 3rd shop is wonderful most of the time(and i used to work there) They have a huge selection and really friendly help but my only little gripe about them is because i used to work there they assume i know where everything is. Even when I have not been in the shop for weeks they still think i dont need any help. Usually i dont need help but its still nice when they ask what i’m looking for.

  6. 6

    Diane says

    What I love:
    1. Friendly staff. They must speak to me or I won’t go back no matter how nice the store is. I have two shops close to me I won’t go to because they make me feel like they are too busy for me.
    2. Clean and well lit.
    3. Lots of samples with the fabric to make the samples
    4. Lots of books and patterns.

    Things I dislike:
    1. Dirty store…take a few minutes to sweep and dust!
    2. Fabric from 1982… still marked full price
    3. Stores that only sell the “Hot, New” stuff from Moda. You can go to 20 shops and 15 of them will have the exact same items.

    I used to have a fabric business hope to start it up again soon) and I worked in a quilt shop for three years. I know it is hard work doing the stuff I mentioned above, but it can be done.

  7. 7

    Sally says

    I agree with most of the things mentioned…pet free, clean smell, friendly people, good fabric seletion, sales!, no hovering sales people, etc… Also, I like an interesting shop. Tend to prefer those in older buildings with character. Don’t like white walls! My favorite is People, Places, and Quilts at their Summerville (bigger of the two) and their Charleston stores. One is an old hardware store with many large rooms at different levels….the other is in an old corner grocery store. Clean, but with lots of character. I like to see samples everywhere for inspiration. A dish of free candy is nice too!:)

  8. 8


    Okay, I can mostly think of the things that made me vow never to return to several shops:

    1. No chain smoking in your shop. Then everything smells bad!
    2. Clean your shop. Dirt, messy floors, unfinished projects wrinkled everywhere makes me wonder what I’m buying into!
    3. Don’t glare at me because I bring my 3-year-old with me. She usually picks out fabric, so you’re getting more business out of me, and she’s never caused a problem in a quilt shop (other than wnnting everything!).

  9. 9


    I don’t get to visit a real quilt shop very often, but when I do:

    1. I like a shop that is open when they say they will be open.

    This is my pet peeve. Earlier this year, my husband drove me to a big famous English quilt shop more than two hours away from our home. We checked the website before we left, and according to the store hours, they were supposed to be open that day. When we arrived, there was a hand-written note on the door that they were closed that day. They decided to have an extra day off after a Bank Holiday. My husband was really cross, and I was extremely disappointed. I will NEVER buy from them again, and I do mean NEVER.

    2. I like a shop where the staff are friendly and greet you when you come in, and let you look around without suffocating you but will give advice if needed. That kind of shop would always get my money!

  10. 10


    I guess I’m in the minority but I don’t mind well-behaved dogs in a quilt shop, as long as they are clean and quiet. I like friendly quilt shops that are bright and well stocked, with a frequent turnover of samples.

    I dislike rude or patronizing staff. There’s a shop nearby that I won’t go into because of the rudeness. A real pet peeve of mine is a shop that does not have patterns or books for sale for the samples hanging. I dislike dirty and disorganized shops.

  11. 11


    Five things I want in a quilt store:

    1. Help when I need it (I like to browse alot).

    2. Books, patterns, rulers & other accessories that are easy to find and look through.

    3. Varied selection of fabrics. . . I rarely buy all the color way from one line so the more selection the better.

    4. Patterns in stock for all the samples that are on display (not just kits).

    5. Evening hours or longer hours on the weekend (I work full-time & sometimes on Saturday so it can be difficult for me to get to shops that do not have extended hours).

    Things I don’t want:

    1. The owners and/or employees should not talk negatively about the customer that just left. . . let’s me know that I, too, will be talked about when I leave. NOTE: I don’t mind hearing GOOD things, but complaints or whining should not be done in the open floor of the store.

    2. Having samples up for months but never having the patterns available. I understand that there can be shipping delays, but once the pattern is out of stock for more than a month I would think the sample should come down.

    3. Sales help that don’t know the answers to basic questions. . . . or don’t know where anything is. I understand that there may be new people in the store, but they should have a better idea than I do of where things are kept in the store.

    4. No prices or stickers on items. If I’m working with a limited budget I really don’t want to have to keep interrupting the sales help to ask for prices & I don’t want to have “sticker shock” at the register & then have to put things back.

    5. Being too crowded. . . .one of the shops that I like has bolts of fabric on the walls in shelves, on the floors against the shelves, on tables, on the cutting tables and under the tables as well. . . .it makes it very hard to walk through the store & even harder to look at things when there are more than 2 people in any section.

  12. 12


    My favorite store is bright with lots of samples and helpful friendly staff. They have a good selection of classes. Sometimes they are offered more than once, but always new ones the next quarter. Fabrics usually fly off their shelves, so if I see something I LOVE, I better buy it now! I have never entered that shop without someone greeting me ..usually by name. Even if I need nothing, I feel the need to visit there about every 2 weeks!

    There are two stores in my area that are much closer to me than my favorite. Both of them are short on space! One you have to walk down a cramped ramp after negotiating around all the sewing machine/vaccuum selections out front. The other one has so much crammed into it, there is no room to step back and see samples from more than a step away. I do go in there, but only in a pinch and I get out as fast a possible! I never knew I was claustophobic..but I think I have touch!

  13. 13

    Lynda Green says

    I love the independently owned quilt shops where the owner and staff are not only friendly, but take great pride in the shop and their work. In addition to a clean, pet-free shop, I prefer one that is organized in some way so that it is easy to locate all components of a line and to find fabrics that are in samples. I find the shops that I most enjoy somehow create an atmosphere in which the staff and customers form a little community of the moment – sharing projects, tips, frustrations and a joke or two about buying stuff ‘just in case.’

  14. 14


    Oooh. This is an interesting question–my perfect quilt shop!

    1. Would be bright, open, and well-organized. I’m a ‘light’ person; the brighter the better! I dislike clutter and having to carefully pick my way through a store. Dark stores make me think there’s something to hide. (Kinda like when we have a candle lit dinner not because it’s so romantic, but so that I don’t have to look at my less-than-spotless kitchen!)

    2. Personable, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic staff. **However, there is a fine line here! I love that both local quilt shop owners remember my name; BUT my time is precious and I go there to shop, not to socialize. I have to be really careful when I go to one of them–I can’t go if I have a time constraint, because I know I’m going to get into a lengthy discussion about all sorts of things before I can get to the fabric.

    3. I like to see lots of finished projects to go with patterns being offered. I like to touch and look at a finished project to help determine if that’s where I want to go. Plus, I like ideas!

    4. Smell. I’m really sensitive to odor. I know this is silly to some, but I have odor-triggered migraines, so I’m *really* sensitive! Stale, sour, pet, heavy perfume, or smoke odors deter me the most.

    5. Selection, selection, selection! Fabrics, patterns, and notions!

    • 14.1


      I don’t visit quilt shops that often (I know, I am a chain store and online shopper!), but one that I like to visit has some great features:

      1. Openess. I do not like to crawl around/over/through bolts/baskets/displays of fabric. I do not like feeling claustrophobic.

      2. Late hours. Even if the shop is open for a few extra hours one day a week, it would accommodate those of us that work 9 to 6.

      3. Allow me space. I like a friendly “hello”, but I hate making small talk.

      4. Sales. This is the main reason why I shop online and at the chain stores.

      5. Classes. A class is what brought me into my favorite local quilt shop!

  15. 15

    Sandra (Sandy Gail) says

    I use the internet for more and more of my quilt related items. I do that because the two small quilt shops near me carry almost nothing. I like to purchase notions like cutting boards, rotary cutters, etc. at a quilt shop. However, the local ones don’t even carry batting! I order my batting from Hancocks of Paducah because I want good quality batting and wally world is just not the place for that.

    I also like to purchase quilt calendars, pretty boxes, etc. The nearest shop to me that has those things is in Oklahoma City over 200 miles away. So my advice to small shop owners is to have more items besides fabric. I used to live in Oklahoma City and the two shops that were there then were amazing! I guess I’m just spoiled!

  16. 16

    bettina says

    i love quilt shops with lots of bolts the more the merrier however i do like things organized

    i love patterns and seeing them hanging around the shop

    i love to be offered help and then the sales person to step away while i think on that idea

    i love it when the shops are open long hours or at least they stay open later then 5

    i love to have shops near by to not have to drive hours just to get some fabric

  17. 17


    1. Quilt shops that smell good. Fresh coffee is a good choice. So is sandalwood. For some reason, all the batiks at my favorite quilt shop smell like sandalwood.
    2. Someplace where I can lay a bunch of fabric out on a flat surface and stare at it for awhile without being in the way of someone who is trying to cut yardage.
    3. Fat quarters placed near the bolts so I don’t have to ask to have them cut just for me.
    4. Dogs and cats are fine with me as long as they don’t conflict with #1. 🙂

  18. 18

    peg says

    Most of my likes have already been stated but I think one very important thing has been left out…. A clean, available restroom. I’ve driven 2 hours for a good shop and when I get there I’d like to be comfortable while I’m browsing, if you know what I mean. Even my LQS is 40 minutes away and usually before I return home I need a potty break!

  19. 19

    Penny says

    My likes:

    Large selection of fabrics, neatly displayed upright on bolts, preferably by colour.
    Friendly staff that are willing to help when asked.
    Well lit, neat and tidy.
    Good selection of notions etc so I can buy it all under one roof.
    Absolutely no pets! (or smoke – but thats banned from the workplace over here)

    The good part – I have an independent quilt shop just like this only 6 miles from where I live, in a lovely little craft centre with rest room and tea shop. Aren’t I the lucky one!

  20. 20

    Marla says

    I love a shop that is roomy, airy, light and clean. I tend to like the shops in nostalgic old buildings with character to them. Nice friendly sales people are a must. I hate shops where they ignore you or act like you are a pain in the butt if you ask questions. On the other hand, don’t like it when they talk to much and you can’t even shop because they follow you around talking. I like a variety of fabrics not just totally modern or contempory. I like lots of samples made up and love it when they put fabrics that go together well in groupings. I like it when shops have an area where hubby’s can sit and relax with coffee or tea. Offered quilt classes are nice too. AND available restrooms!!

  21. 21


    1. Clean and friendly but the staff doesn’t hover when I’m browsing.
    2. I love civil war and 30s reproductions, but I also like to see a large variety of fabrics. Bolts organized in a logical way and easily accessible.
    3. I love fat quarter bins. If there isn’t a fat quarter of a particular fabric, I may not buy it at all.
    4. Clean shop and restroom. No smoking or funky smells; no pet hairs or dust bunnies.
    5. Samples, samples, samples! With the pattern either clearly noted or attached to the sample. If you don’t have the pattern and will not be reordering it, take down the sample!

    One HUGE dislike:
    I am 31, but I tend to look much younger. I get a lot of looks from shop staff when I’m wandering around a new shop. I’m young, single, and without kids. What’s the big deal? I’m an advanced quilter. I’ve taught many classes. Please don’t assume that I don’t know quilting cotton from cotton duck.

    • 21.1


      Maggie I hear you! I have dealt with the age thing since I was a kid, I started sewing at 4. I am now 35 and most shops think I want to LEARN to make a purse or novelties to make baby quilts. I usually look around and then ask for somethig they wouldn’t carry, Kaffe usually does it.

  22. 22

    pdudgeon says

    space—gimme space! i don’t like walking thru a tight maze in order to see everything.

    light and bright–i realize that most quilt shops are rented, but please talk to the owner and see if they will put in good lighting.

    keep it clean- i’ve got indoor allergies so i really need a shop where the owners keep their AC filters changed on a regular basis, and vaccuum every night. I don’t shop in a dusty shop.

    not every quilt shop must sell sewing machines. Duh!
    I’m not sure where that golden rule got started, but it needs to stop, LOL.

  23. 23


    My likes:

    1. Friendly staff
    2. Bright and well lit and clean
    3. No pets–especially cats laying on the fabric piles (I actually saw this)
    4. Clean
    5. Sale bins/racks
    6. Fresh baked cookies on Saturday (the shop where I last lived did this every Saturday. I would take my grandson in with me and to this day—3 years later–he still thinks they made the cookies just for him! 🙂

    1. Dimly lit shops (I was in one–purchased fabric but when I got to the cash register (where there was light) the color was wrong. The shop owner wouldn’t take it back….I hadn’t even left the store, but because they had cut it I had to buy it!
    2. Fabric blots EVERYWHERE–falling on the floor, stacked to the ceiling, etc. (the above store also had this).
    3. Unfriendly staff
    4. No sales!

  24. 24

    pdudgeon says

    forgot one more thing…

    i really don’t need to know what the store staff is ordering out for lunch.
    no, i’m not kidding! that was the highlight of the day in one quilt store i used to visit.

    keep that staff stuff in the staff room, and get it settled before you open for business each day, or else keep it in a journal that staff reads.
    When the store is open you should be concentrating on the customers.

  25. 25


    I like a shop with a lot of variety–batiks, repros, modern, ’30’s, with fabrics set up in some sort of logical order.

    I like lots of fat quarters.

    I like ever-changing samples to look at and dream about.

    I like to see lots of notions and supplies and books. I never know when I’ll see something I absolutely need.

    I like a friendly staff who cares about me. They offer to help, but they let me take my time when I am making choices.

    Good lighting is a plus.

    I don’t mind clutter–I like to see lots of little baskets and boxes with patterns and fat quarter bundles.

  26. 26


    Acknowledge my presence in the store as soon as you are able to. I get it that you are deeply involved with another customer. However, standing around talking to other employees w/o at least nodding your head my way is not cool.

    Don’t follow me around after I say I’m just looking, you might find yourself following me out the door.

    Quilt shops I like all have a personality and they focus on two or three things and do it really well. i.e. batiks, 30’s reproductions, 1800’s, the newest lines, etc. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to put a 30s reproduction quilt together and the shop only has 10 bolts.

  27. 27


    MANY things said here are in accord with how I feel about quilt shops. I’m not sure if anyone said this yet (as I had to read all the above comments quickly) but I like it when a quilt shop seems interested in ordering something you have seen in a quilt magazine or at a show that they don’t have yet. It makes me feel like I am valued as a customer. A pet peeve I have is when quilt shop staff seems to socialize a bit too much with other customers they may know….to the extent of almost ignoring the rest of us shopping there at the time…..talking OVER us to someone behind us that is a friend instead of focusing on us while cutting our fabric!!!

  28. 28

    Susan says

    Okay, so how did you get rid of your pantry moths?

    I have 2 quilt shops in my town that are completely different. One shop is featured in a magazine this month, but the shop owner is not the friendliest, so I don’t go there often. I love the women who work at the shop I go to – very friendly, willing to help choose fabric, etc. I wouldn’t like shopping in a store with cats and dogs roaming around myself – I’m allergic to cats anyway.

    The quilting world is so much fun!

  29. 29

    quilterbee says

    I’m glad you asked this question, Judy. I knew I loved my quilt shop but really didn’t realize just how much the owners did right until I read what everyone wrote.

    I have a quilt shop that I like but it is 45 minutes from my house with expressway driving. I like the fabrics there but not so much the service. They have a great sale twice a year and the latest fabrics lines. I have vision problem so I only drive near my house so unless someone else is driving I don’t get their often but they are not my favorite shop. My favorite shop is only about six minutes away from me. I have shopped there for years to help keep her in business. So location is really important to me. There is a shop about 15 minutes away no expressways, but the staff is not all that friendly or helpful and they have no stock. They have a huge beautiful store and are still selling stock from a quilt shop that went out of business years ago. There are few samples and only a couple of classes offered.

    What I like about my favorite close to home shop. The owners are husband and wife. Both are friendly and know where things are if you ask for something. He can help pick out fabric to go with what you have picked as well as she can.

    They never push you to buy or follow you around or are fighting or yelling or loud.

    lots of classes and samples.

    Nice bathroom.

    Restaurants near by to eat lunch when you are at classes all day.

    If you want to learn something like making fabric bowls or purses or anything just ask she will find someone to teach it. They started a bag a month class because I mentioned that might be fun.

    If you want something and they don’t have it they will order it for you.

    If you can’t make a class or want to learn something that the class doesn’t offer, she will teach you private one to one lessons or find someone else who will teach you that agrees with your schedule.

    A card that when you spend $300 you get $25 free merchandize. The card does not expire.

    Good lighting, lots of tables.

    Fee sit and sews every Friday and Saturday. Bring your own stuff to work on.

    Seveal BOM programs that only cost $2 a month. This is for your fabric. One class was Eleanor Burns Magic Vines. You bought the book she gave the fabric each month in a kit for $2.

    A list of long arm quilters who will quilt your quilt that are close to the shop.

    If she doesn’t have a class scheduled you can come in and sew anytime she is open. No charge to use her tables. She has plenty of mats and rulers to use so you do not have to drag everything there. Two ironing stations.

    A nice selection of fabric grouped and displayed well so you can find what you want.

    As I read the above post I realized even more how lucky I am to have this shop near me. It has everything I could ever want or need in a shop and then some.


  30. 30


    I love Moda but get frustrated if I can’t buy anything to go with the precuts. My preference would be to back it in a coordinating print. But seems like the pieces I like were not the shop’s pick. My LQS has most precuts, but maybe one or two to go with it. I like to see most or at least half.

    I am inspired by color. But if it isn’t organized, it is overload and not inspiration.

    Lots and lots of light. I want to see the colors and have them be the same color when they are in my house.

    Samples that are relevent to what is in the store. It isn’t inspiring if I can’t replecate it in some way. At least with fabrics that are similar enough to redo it.

    Friendly staff that doesn’t harp on my kids and then laugh in my face about it again the next time I go in.

    Touchable. Without being glared at. Touch is important in quilts.

    Affordable. If everything costs ten bucks a yard, at all times, and there are never any sales to help make it a little more affordable…I will just go to JoAnns with my 40% off coupon and go for a similar look.

    I am not big on kits…they seem to always be above my price range. ANd I prefer a fourth yard piece to a fat quarter and don’t like being ridiculed for my preference. I like width of fabric strips.

    The biggest though…be open when your sign says you will be open. I drive a long ways to quilt stores and it is super frustrating to search out a store and then not even be able to get in it by the time you find it. And my girls don’t make that any easier on me.

  31. 31


    Likes –

    1.Large, open well-lit areas
    2. Place to sit down and think, review a book, rest while your friend continues shopping
    3. friendly staff that know when to help and find the matching fabric and know when to step back and let you look.
    4. Organized fabrics – I like the colors organized, but I also like the batiks, repros, 30’s etc in their own section.
    5. Sales as well as the loyalty card programs

  32. 32

    Marla Willier says

    I regularly travel to the same vacation spot a couple times a year just to visit the quiltshops in that area. (3 of them)

    1. The number one shop is friendly and they always remember us from year to year. The shop is well organized and has beautiful displays. A daily shop for me when I am there.

    2. The number 2 is a large building, bright with an awesome selection and friendly staff. Always stop and buy – excellent selection of newer fabrics.

    3. The number 3 shop has elderly staff that constantly complain about their aches and pains and act like customers are an inconvenience. The selection of fabrics is good but the store needs an update. Only go to that one when looking for a batik. We joke that you can only get a job there if someone has passed on and that you have to be a “certain age” to work there.

    4. Pet free is preferable – pets can get hurt accidentally by customers.

  33. 33

    Brenda says

    Hmmm. I have one shop in town that I will not go into again. It is a sewing machine selling shop, and I had heard great things about it. I asked one lady what she thought, and she looked at me, and said, why don’t you go and see what you think? That gave me pause, but I was driving by it on the way home and thought, why not?? Go check it out.
    So I did…..
    I went in, looked around and they seemed friendly. Then I got asked what kind of machine I had. So I told her. Well, did the air get chilly in there quite quickly, and she (honest – she did!!!!) looked condesendinly over her shoulder at the other staff member and said “Oh, a kindergarden machine” and they both had that ‘knowing’ smile and then just looked down thier noses at me like I was nothing……..

    So, I don’t and won’t go back. It may not have been a top of the line machine (it is a Kenmore, which, is a Janome in costume, and it is the Janome machine I had been wanting but they no longer offered!!!! I bought what I could afford and WHAT I wanted!!! I still love it 12 yrs later by the way…………)

    So, that is not an experiance I want to ever repeat. And if you own a store – do not insult a future possible client. I had gone in there to look at a serger……….. And, I could afford any of those machine a year or so later, if I had wanted, but I won’t ever go back into that store. AND I tell people about my experiance there all these years later……

    What I want in a store??? Easy to answer. Friendly people. Open people, ones who seem glad to see you!!! Everything else is not as important to me as being treated like I matter.

  34. 34

    Marilyn says

    I like to be welcomed as I come into the shop and asked if I can be helped, not only once, but again if I am lingering in the store. Sometimes just having them ask if I am working on a project or talking to me like I’m a long lost friend will get me to spend more money than if they leave me alone. I love seeing quilts hanging on the walls and down at eye level so I can really get a good look at the quilting. I don’t like it when they hang unfinished quilt tops and then have quilting services right there in the shop, doesn’t show off what they are selling. I really liked one quilt shop that had yarn too and also let me use a JoAnn’s coupon to buy fabric. Sure, they lost 40% on the one piece of fabric, but I felt good and spent more on other things because I was getting a ‘deal’ on the one piece of fabric. I think most of us who are quilters also have other interests so having the yarn for sale in the same shop satisfied two needs at the same time 🙂
    The shop I didn’t like was because when I went in, I walked around and around and was completely ignored. The owner and sales ladies were chatting it up with ‘favorite’ customers and I was invisible. I figured if they didn’t have 2 seconds to say hello to me, I could spend my money somewhere else.

    • 34.1

      Robbie says

      I feel like I must have been to the same shop that you went to. Where employees just ignored you and kept chatting with each other and favorite customers. I seldom go there and have no desire to go back!!

  35. 35

    Julianne says

    Things I like.

    1. Clean with good lighting.
    2. Friendly / helpful but not pushy personal
    3. classes / samples / eye candy so to speak
    4. Decent fabric selection / quality fabrics and patterns

    Things I do not like.

    1. To small a space / clutered / disorganised. Not enough room for two people to pass each other.
    2. Fabric not mesured and cut correctly / short cuts 34 inches instead of 36.. / crooked cuts.
    3. Yard sale type things in the quilt shop mixed with the quilting supplies.
    4. Not enough cutting tables long lines to have fabric cut.

  36. 36


    I have one major complaint about my LQS – half the time they seem to forget I’m the customer – you know, the one who will spend money buying their stuff! I have to race from work to get there before they close, and if I make it with 10 minutes to shop, I’m happy. I try to be quick, understanding and respecting their posted closing time. But to have the owner tell me in a snotty voice “You know we close in 10 minutes” really ticks me off. If she can’t stay a few minutes and help me make a purchase, I don’t think I want to shop there. Too bad it’s the only shop within a reasonable driving distance! One time, I didn’t stay, and ended up buying about 10 yds from Joann’s instead – I saved quite a bit of money, and she lost a good sale. And the worst part – I once made a point to go back and tell them they had under charged my credit card!

  37. 37


    Things I would want:

    I would like to see most the line of fabric offered at the store, not one or two pieces of it.

    I would like to see organized by fabric line – not by color -or at least a tag to say “part of such and such line” (main reason why i shop online) that way I don’t have to guess if it goes with such and such fabric.

    plenty of notions, plenty of patterns, and samples.

    Things I don’t like:

    crowded stores

    rude salespeople (especially rude after you have had over $100 fabric cut)

    pushy salespeople – you have to get such and such or your not a “real” quilter

    because I don’t buy much at your store (or as much as my co-shoppers), doesn’t mean that I am not a good customer… I can afford what I can. Your store may not hold what I like, or I have spent my budget for the month.

  38. 38


    Things that keep me coming back to a local quilt store:

    welcoming staff- friendly and nice whether you look like you will spend money or not

    good clearance section of fabrics- if I am going to continue to quilt – I need to be able to add fabrics for reasonable prices

    interesting displays that show a variety of techniques

    a place to sit and look at the pattern books

    knowledgeable staff

    Things that I don’t like:

    when they measure to the very last eight of an inch on sale fabric so that they might get two pennies more

    when the shop is so overcrowded that you can not find a place to step

    when the atmosphere of the store is snooty and unwelcoming

    Interesting question Judy…


  39. 39

    Lydia says

    On the issue of animals — I ADORE both cats and dogs, but I don’t think they belong in a business. People could be allergic or afraid. My dad is really afraid of dogs, and I don’t imagine he’s the only one. I know a woman who’s petrified of cats, too! I don’t get that, myself, but because it’s out there, I think shop owners should allow for their potential customers to be in one or more of those categories. True, neither my dad or this ailurophobic woman are quilters, but if there’s one, there are bound to be others. If you go into PetsMart, well, you ought to expect animals to be there. But a quilt shop? The animals have nothing to do with accomplishing the purpose of that business, so I don’t think they should be there. I personally don’t mind, but still don’t think it’s appropriate.

    What I like about shops — staff members or owners who say hello, perhaps tell me about what’s new, and then leave me to my own devices. I’ll ask if I need something! Good light, but NOT fluorescent — or at least the true-color tubes. A varied selection of colors and styles. A wide selection of patterns, and samples are good too.

    What I don’t like — mostly, ANY kind of smells. Dirty kinds of smells or smoke, certainly, but also pot pourri, candles, incense, joss sticks, any of that. I’m quite sensitive to fragrances, and they nearly all make me start coughing. I’ve been known to walk into a shop, detect a fragrance and start coughing, and turn around and walk right back out. I’m personally not a coffee drinker, so even that smell can get to be a bit much, but I can deal with that, and I realize that the folks who’re working there may well NEED their coffee — as long as they don’t scorch it! 😉 Clutter all over the cutting table, so they have to juggle things around just to cut my fabric. ANY kind of comment about how much I’ve spent, or even how much I’ve saved (when there’s a sale or something).

    There are probably more things on both sides, but that’s what occurs to me offhand.

  40. 40


    I like a shop that has much to chose from and employees that don’t bother me while I wander around. I especially like charm squares/strips/layer cakes, etc. and bolts of sale fabrics

    Tearing the fabric..I like it rotary cut
    Shops that don’t offer a punch card or % off or give guild discounts

  41. 41


    Things I like in a shop:
    1. Good lighting.
    2. I LOVE displays!!! I will spend more money if there is a seasonal display and a “new items” display. Also displays that change often.
    3. Current fabric, patterns and samples.
    4. Cut Goods with the Yardage.
    5. I love a shop that will tell you if another shop close by would have something you are looking for and they don’t.

    Things I dislike in a shop:
    1. Animals. I recently had a shop tell me I needed to take my 3 year old out because their dog didn’t like kids, we had made it 5 feet in the door. My mom looked around while we waited outside and then I went in. They had cute stuff but the dog didn’t need my money. I also don’t want cat hair on my new fabric.
    2. My local shop I refuse to spend money at. I had the owner tell me that yellow and orange wont work in a quilt. I must not know what I was doing. I have no since of color. All of this and more in her store with others watching. That was 10 years ago, I was 25. I may have purchased 5 yards total since then from her, and only when I am in a jam. She has since learned that I really can sew and has tried to get me to shop at her store. NO WAY!
    3. I know it is expensive to buy a whole line, please buy it in ONE color way. Don’t try to get a few bolts in each color way, they don’t always work together.
    4. Please don’t eat and drink on the cutting table. on top of bolts of fabric, samples and customer quilts. I saw a shop owner wipe her daughter’s chocolate fingers on a teacher’s sample.

  42. 42


    I like lots of light and well organized fabric. I like some cutsie stuff (antiques and gift items), but when it is hard to tell if it is a quilt store or a cutsie store I don’t like to go back, unless there is no other option. (sort of close to me)
    Creeps me out when You walk into a store, are ignored for 15-20 minutes, then the staff lady starts following you around.. and not saying anything! Ok, am I going to stuff a whole bolt of fabric under my shirt and walk out the door and nobody would be able to tell???? sheesh (was close to where my dd went to college)
    One store has a minimal website, doesn’t sell fabric on it, but it is to let you know what is going on. They seem to have alot of neat classes, but I can’t take them. Why? Well, the classes are already over. They still have Classes listed from the first of the year and I kept hoping all summer that I would catch the new classes. Wouldn’t you know the month I didn’t check it, the had a class, and it was over by the time I checked it, and they had also had a coupon, over by the time I saw it. This is very frustrating! (closest store to me)
    Gee this sound bad. Maybe I am more picky since I have to drive at least 1 hour and sometimes more to get to the store so I do value good customer service and clean & appealing stores.

  43. 43

    Claudia W says

    The things I like in a quilt shop are a LOT of fabric well organized with the bolts easy to remove from shelves. No animals, and I don’t particularly like the shops that have cutesy-poo displays of fabric in antique baby cribs or pie safes…that old timey stuff just smells bad in my opinion. Quilting does NOT equal loving antiques in my book but so many people must think it does.

    I like shops where the employees don’t have attitudes. I don’t care for shops where I am made to feel that I am interrupting the employees important personal converstations.

    I also like shops where they have lots of samples of new patterns and new gadgets and notions. claudia

  44. 44

    Becky R says

    Wow, these are great lists and I can identify with everything. Working Saturdays for a local quilt shop I see why we do some of the things we do. I love my job and call it my “therapy”.
    One thing that I don’t thing anyone listed I’ve always wondered about.
    Well, actually 2 things.
    1. We try to always keep some kind of music on in the background. I like it but I also like the tv on at home when I’m sewing. Does it help?
    2. Temperature. Some days I feel like I’m dying because it’s warm and I think the temperature could be a little cooler in the shop. Does the temperature affect your shopping experience?

    • 44.1


      I’ll answer your questions, Yes on both.
      1. I don’t mind music, if it is background. My local shop that closed always had music on. I liked it most of the time. I knew if one employee was working it would be something weird, to me. One day it was tribal something, I thought we were going to do a rain dance. Another shop the owner likes alternative music, the lyrics are questionable for young childern. I am not thrilled with that either.

      2. Being from Ca the summers are HOT, 110. PLEASE have the AC or a fan on. Opening the door is not a cooling system.

  45. 45


    Reading through the comments, I am glad to see it is not only me who has encountered rude staff in a quilt shop. I have to drive 30 to 45 minutes away to get decent fabric. One shop that is 30 minutes away has a wonderful staff. They always remember my name and seem to know instinctively when I want help. And when I don’t. Unfortunately, it is a very small shop. Sometimes the owner will close at a moments notice too. (I have learned to call ahead.)

    The second shop (45 minutes away) is larger, has more of a fabric selection. And a HORRIBLE staff. They have mastered the art of making a person feel stupid. If I ask any questions they act like they have been put out and are not helpful at all. Though I notice if a local person comes in, a red carpet is practically rolled out. I hate going there, but sometimes I have no choice if I am short on fabric. Now this is very mean of me and I am putting myself on their level, but now when I HAVE to go there I take all three of my boys there with me. Three boys in a fabric store = lots of whining. I can tune it out, but it annoys the heck out of them.

  46. 46


    There are 3 local quilts shops near me. Between them, they have everything I want in a shop. But none of them has it all 🙁

    1. Friendly staff, who will help me pick out colours for a quilt. Don’t rush me, don’t make me feel stupid for not being able to match colours, and don’t try to talk me into something I’m iffy about
    2. lots of light, and lots of space
    3. good selection of fabric
    4. books, patterns, and tools nicely displayed

    The biggest shop with the best fabric selection is not really “quilting friendly”. No quilting books, no quilting tools, but it’s all 100% cotton fabric and a great variety. But you really have to ask, to get somone to give some advice on fabric selection.

    One I used to really like, because the staff is really friendly and helpful. But they are small and crowded and dark. And the last time I went they were closed for an extended long weekend – which their web site didn’t mention.

    My new favourite is the brightest of the 3 (just moved to a larger location). Staff is friendly, but a bit pushy, and I keep walking out of there with fabric that just isn’t quite right. But they seem to have everything else, and they are the closest to me, so that’s a bonus.

  47. 47

    peggy says

    Once upon a time, there was a wonderful shop that sold unusual, modern fabrics near my home. There was a wonderful owner-the sole employee. She made her customers, and her non purchasing visitors, feel like they were the only thing she had to focus on while they were there. There were so many regulars there that it became a meeting place to visit, to discuss our projects, and to help each other choose fabrics for those projects. Or, we could talk about our families, our guild, whatever was on our mind. There were patterns for the samples. There was a clean, well lighted restroom. There were classes for all levels of quilters. The perfect place for a new/intermediate/begining quilter. Alas, the economy went south. The perfect LQS closed in Santa Cruz Co., CA, and we are less fortunate in our choices now.

  48. 48

    Patty says

    Took 5 years and lots of $$ before the owner of the local (the only one at the time) quilt store would even acknowledge my presence (never did smile at me) when I came in the door. Yet she would stand smiling and chatting for an hour with her friends (or celebrity quilters) making the rest of us wait in long lines to be helped. As soon as a new shop opened up 30 miles away, I deserted her like a rat leaving a sinking ship. She ended up closing the shop within a year from lack of sales. The shop itself was great with a good selection of fabrics, bright, airy, lots of room to move around, monthly end-of-bolt sales, lots of clearance fabrics and customer appreciation cards (you got $25 free fabric after spending $200). The new shop is still going strong despite today’s economy. Smaller, darker but they have a great staff and make you feel very welcome and important whether you’re spending a hundred dollars or just one.

  49. 49



    Well lit


    fabrics in all genres and personalities and colors

    good classes with good teachers

    good selection of books, pattterns, notions

    friendly and informed salespeople

    being waited on promptly

    treated as if you are their most important business, because you are


    Shops that operate as private clubs and just pretend to be retail businesses, so they can “get cheap fabric for my friends”

    Used merchandise sold for new prices:
    half empty spools of thread
    books that have had notes written in them by staffers when they “borrow” the book, then it is put back on the shelf
    opened, used, written on and crumpled patterns put back on the shelf and all are then sold at full retail price

    Negative remarks made by owners or staff about customers who shop sales. “The only time we see so and so in here is when we have a sale”. Within hearing of other customers.

    Arrogant, snotty, employees who try to make others feel inferior.

    Employees or owners who are intimidated by those with more textile knowledge, experience or education than they have and snottily ask “What are you taking my class for?”

    Using the personal database of the business’ computer to give out personal information to others who have no business having it.

    Employees who use phone numbers in the data base to make harassing, hang up calls to customers homes as a childish game.

    Selling block of the month kits that are very expensive, and then short changing the fabric, and having poor or erroneous instructions.

    Shops who sell patterns “designed” by their employees but are actually rip-offs of copyrighted patterns already on the market. Those of us who read widely in the field and keep up with the market KNOW.

    Private, closed clubs just for the “special people” that regular customers are not allowed into.

    Popular fabric lines pulled off the shelves for weeks at a time to cut kits for said private clubs. When it arrives back on the shelves it is so picked over, there is not enough for the “regular” tcustomer to make anything substantial with.

    Special sales, discounts, and freebies for the private clubs.

    Quilt shops that drive longarmers out of business by telling people that certain quilters no longer quilt or they are no good, and then direct customers to “favored” longarmers.

    Announce in the shop newsletter that certain products are in stock, when actually they have been put back for special classes, and when the customer goes in to purchase said product, they are told the stock is all sold out and they must special order it.

    I agree with all that has been said by other posters so far, also. Fortunately I live in an area blessed with several quilt shops, and 5 big box fabric stores where I can get just about anything I need. And I don’t mind internet shopping for better prices. If a quilt shop isn’t “nice” or doesn’t “work” their business, I vote with my dollars.

  50. 50

    dawn says

    good things about a quilt shop:
    1) they MUST be friendly and courteous and make you feel at home
    2) good selection of fabric and patterns and things
    3) samples for inspiration should be updated and patterns available for them nearby
    4) gals who will help you decide or give you opinions when you are making a decision between two or three fabrics ( they would be talking to you and know you were befuddled before piping in their opinion of course)
    5) not be so crowded with stuff that you dont feel like shopping for anything
    6) have a husband area to make them not mind staying until your purchasing is done
    7) classes offered to teach old dogs new tricks. even if a technique has been around, sometimes there are others who want to practice that technique or learn it or relearn it for certain applications. classes bring people together and help the shop gals if they teach it to better get acquainted with their customers

  51. 51


    I like a roomy shop and being able to get the bolt out with ease and not strong- arm it. I like to see samples and have the pattern or possibly a kit available. If you don’t have the pattern take it down. Having a little note where the quilt came from, pattern or book is also great.

    I don’t go to a local quilt store near me as they watch and follow you like you might steal something. HATE that!

    I don’t like quilt shops with stuff all over stacked on the floor ready for me to trip over.

  52. 52

    Terry says

    Music is a biggie with me. If it is a radio station, it must come in. No static.
    I like calm relaxing music – maybe even with a display on the counter: Now Playing ____.

  53. 53


    I just went to 5 yesterday. Our guild which is 2 hrs from a quilt shop called in advance to say 60 gals were coming to their shops as a stash dash event. One of the shops had a sign out on their door (just a regular sheet of paper) saying Welcome Lake Gaston Piecemakers. That make us feel welcome. They also gave us 30 percent discount off everythig in the store! That was outstanding!
    The other shopss 1) gave us a free Australian magazine with any purchase, shop 2) had a great sale room, shop 3) had a large variety of fabrics, wool, etc, and had a punch card (you fill it up and then get x amount free on next visit), shop 4) nothing. Guess which one was my favorite? 30percent off one. That is the one I will remember and seek out because they were really nice to all of us. So I guess for me any shop who is really nice to me just once earns a place in my heart.

  54. 54

    Eileen Keane says

    In order of importance:
    1. up to date inventory
    2. friendly staff
    3. lots of thread
    4. easy to navigate and find what I’m looking for
    5. sales

    I agree with Judy about animals in the shop. That’s a big turn-off for me. There’s one shop I won’t go back to because the owner and employees have their noses in the air. Nobody is better than anyone else to me so don’t treat me like you’re better than I am; and don’t treat me like an idiot.

  55. 55


    1. Neat, clean & somewhat organized
    2. Friendly staff who greet you but don’t hover…
    3. Lots of samples
    4. Current inventory – “fresh out of the oven!”
    5. Oh yes! I agree – lots of thread.
    6. A nice little mix of goodies – eye candy/giftie things.

    One of the shops I used to go to had a big name sewing machine franchise and the “shop cats” had free reign – walking all over the counters and the expensive machine models…yuck. Have to admit to being a definite dog person though…that never bothers me, but then they don’t usually walk on top of the counters, either :o)

  56. 56

    carol c says

    sorry I like animals in the shops, sometimes

    one I go to , has a 18 year huge persian, and you would think cat hair would be all over the fabric. BUT NOT, never found one single hair. and besides he doesnt jump, he had an injury and doesnt jump and is sweet and stays out of the
    way, I rarely go there cause they are aloof to their customers. They do say hi, but do not hover, and you must go look for them to get cuts. However,since I dont go in often enough, perhaps that is why they are not so friendly.
    whatever. the cat person that i am appreciates the purrs of the cat verses the costs of each item-lol

  57. 57

    Evelyn says

    My great niece is so allergic to cats that if she even plays with a friend that has a cat she sometimes has an attack. Poor girl has spent many an hour under an oxygen tent at the hospital. I would never, ever buy fabric from a store with a cat! We have cats but they never come in the house. I don’t like shops with expensive do-dads at child level – that is just not nice if you shop with a child. I like samples and I like samples of smaller items and gift ideas too. Quilt shops that also sell all kinds of non-related items – I don’t like. Are you a bakery? A knick-knack shop? Oh, a quilt shop! And if you work at a quilt store – well it would be nice if you would at least know some of the basics so you don’t look at a customer like she is an alien that just dropped down from outer space and speaks a foreign language just because she wants a certain ruler or tool! Cheers! Evelyn