Free Spirit Fabrics will be shut down by parent company Coats.
A letter sent to designers today by Stephanie Leichtweis, who became president of North American Crafts at Coats in October, stated, “We have worked diligently for the past few years to make this a successful part of the Coats Craft business here in North America. But I am sorry to say that, despite our best efforts, we have continued to struggle with an inherent weakness in the business model and have not been able to demonstrate a profit.”
The letter goes on to say, “We will not be producing new Westminster or FreeSpirit Fabrics from today onwards.”
Orders placed to date for delivery prior to May 31 will be fulfilled. It is unclear at this time what will happen to designers who are currently under contract with Free Spirit some of whom are among the biggest names in the quilting industry including Tula Pink, Kaffe Fasset, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, and Denyse Schmidt, among many others. It’s also unclear at this time what will happen to the company employees.
The full text of the letter is below. We will publish more information as it becomes available.
I wanted to make you aware that we are going to exit our Lifestyle Fabrics business. This will take effect from Tuesday 1 May and includes our Westminster Fabrics/ Fibers, FreeSpirit brand and designers.
We have worked diligently for the past few years to make this a successful part of the Coats Craft business here in North America. But I am sorry to say that, despite our best efforts, we have continued to struggle with an inherent weakness in the business model and have not been able to demonstrate a profit.
It also means we will be moving invoicing and customer service functions supporting the thread and yarn businesses from Greer, South Carolina to our Albany and Charlotte offices in North Carolina. You will be provided with new contact details for this shortly and in the meantime your contact details for this will remain the same.
We will continue to fulfil orders placed to date for delivery prior to Thursday 31 May and new orders for existing collections on a first come first service basis. We will not be producing new Westminster or FreeSpirit Fabrics from today onwards.
Coats is particularly proud of its long association supporting our customers and North America based crafters and alternative options have been considered extremely carefully. We believe that through making these difficult decisions we will create an improved customer focused business for the future, from which you will benefit, and I hope you will continue to work with us.
It is our intent to support you, our talented and dedicated artist, during this transition.
President, North American Crafts
Cc: Keith Howard
We’ve done a more in-depth analysis of what might have caused this closure and what it signals for the quilting industry as a whole. Find that article here.
It certainly does not reflect the popularity of the designers so it must be an in-house weakness.
Where is the quilting resistance??
Could you please tell me where the Kaffe Fassett fabrics are made?
They’re made in Korea.
LOL, probably where the resistence for increasing tax rates on obscenely wealthy citizens are, people fighting to increase programs for the chronically homeless, people fighting to increase minimum wage to a living wage so people can at least afford to buy shoes and rent an apartment at the same time. They’re all sitting in front of the television watching either the Kardashians, or a Football game — doing what matters most to them. Sad isn’t it?
Maybe if the prices were more realistic to the market the sales would be higher. I agree, not the designers faults. Obviously poor business practices somewhere along the line.
I agree. Outrageous prices keep sales down and poor management delivers the final blow. Granted, the quality of the fabric is excellent, but the price is too much for many quilters. I thought the prices in the US were high, but when I see what Europe and Australia is paying, I really am shocked!
I hope my favorite designers find a new home 🙁
I don;t find the prices to be any higher than other quilting fabrics. ARe they higher in your area>
Have you checked prices at JoAnn’s? That is were the prices are high. I am lucky to have few Amish stores nearby. They sell fabric a few dollars less than other places. I will miss the fabric- the designers from this company. I love Amy Butler’s fabric. I hope she finds a new company. Happy Creating.
The high quality of the Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably fabrics that I use in my custom dressing business justifies the fabric costs. I would not waste my time working with the poor quality fabrics found at Joann Fabrics and Wal-Mart. If those fabrics meet your needs then do not complain about the Free Spirit Fabric prices. That’s like comparing Silk to Muslin!
I do not believe sales are down. These designers remain quite relevant and have a huge following of customers buying their fabric.
I too do not waste my time with JoAnne’s or WalMart fabrics. My time costs the same and it’s my name which goes on the final product. It’s a shame quality fabrics are so high, but let’s examine the word QUALITY and remember why that’s so. I miss the mills in America who produced amazing fabrics, towels and linens. But people wanted cheap and that’s what they got.
I totally agree that the problem is not the designers, but it is a Coats problem. Personally I have used hundreds of yards of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.
Define high please. What I find is that the likes of Wal-Mart and JoAnns have set price expectations so low they are impossible to compete with and the quality is no comparison to what the reputable fabric companies produce.
I agree. The Quality reflects in the price. Fabric, like thread, is what makes your work timeless and gives it longevity. I don’t buy fabric at Walmart or Joann’s.
Comparing the quality of Walmart and Joann’s 🍋against Tula Pink and Kaffe Fassett 🍎is like comparing lemons to apples.
I don’t understand. Their thread racks keep getting smaller and they are getting rid of our favorite designers. I. Definitely a. Kaffe Fassett follower. Just discovered Tula Pink. No other designers have the same quality of products. The fabric itself without the prints is of awesome quality. I hope they do not own Kaffe Fassett. If they do he can’t compete in the market for a while. He has said nothing so far as I know. Tula Pink said that she was an independent designer and could move on.
If a quilter is in love with the quality and designs they will find a way to purchase.
That applies to the quality of everything these days. Many people don’t even know what good quality is because they are so used to whatever Walmart & JoAnn farm out and that is how they set their standards
Many of Those quality fabric companies you refer to produce the same fabrics for Jo-Ann’s, Walmart and Hobby Lobby. I love my local quilt shops too but don’t shame the big box stores with rumors of inferior quality fabrics.
I understand. My great-grandparents worked in the textile mills here while they still existed. But over the course of four decades (two generations), they along with just about any other company hiked up their skirts and went to Asia.
They were already profitable, but they didn’t want to pay labor here. So they took off down South at first, and then left the South for Asia where they can pay slave wages, ignore what few if any existing labor or environmental regulations existed, in order to increase their profits even more. From that time on and after abandoning the American worker, their CEO’s salaries went from roughly 40 times the lowest paid position in their firms, to almost 500 times that from the late 70s to 2020. And yet they still cry poverty or no profit in order to receive massive tax rebates to the tune of billions.
…And we pay for that.
Nothing today of real value or daily use is made in the States anymore. American companies turned traitor on us, and we not only let them, we encouraged it by continuing to buy their garbage. Even as in the past ten years they began shorting us on sizes and amounts, while keeping the prices the same or raising them, as well as cheapening their materials and production. But, where else can we buy fabric from that is remotely affordable. We’re in a bad trap of our own making, and I can’t find an alternative if I want to keep making things. Which at this point I am about ready to just stop and find another outlet. I’ve not many years left in this old body and I may be one person, but I’ll be damned feeling like I did nothing when my time is up.
We are a retailer in Australia. And I was told once by our suppliers that the Designers of fabric and rulers and all the bits and pieces set their prices. Then everyone goes from there. So here in Australia…Designers like Kaffe and Tilda are way out of sight price ways for most people. Granted…it’s beautiful work and excellent fabric but so are many others. By the time we go to purchase it’s crazy and so we don’t get them. There would be more competition if there weren’t exclusivity to a wholesaler or distributor who takes massive margin. And I can personally say that when Tim Holtz fabric came to Australia it was not marketed at all. Really a darn shame.
Good response..Canadians feel the same way.
At $27 to $28 Australian dollars I do a lot of window shopping these days of Kaffe fabrics. Beautiful yes but has got out of my proce range.
I agree, they are all wonderful creative people who could not be the problem. Maybe it is you!!!
That would be the day I pay 27 dollars for quilting fabric, which is essentially a lightweight cotton compared to many of the upholstery and drapery fabrics. They are usually three to six times the weight per sq. yard, often consist of more than one material and are averaging only slightly higher in the States going from the mid 20s on up per yard.
I totally agree. The problem is not in the designers or their designs. It has to be a management problem. A little lowering of the price of the fabrics by these awesome designers would probably help, but don’t cheapen the quality of the fabrics.
Fabric prices have been extremely expensive..quilting is a hobby..while i love good quality fabrics..it takes a small business loan to complete one..
Why spend your limited time in life sewing with cheaply produced fabric? The end product looks cheap, doesn’t hang correctly and is directly a reflection of the maker.
Well it’s a question of economics really. Do I pay the utility bill this month, or do I splurge on that lovely but extravagant quilting fabric?
It’s a quaint thought, but I’m not that concerned what people think about my low-end fabric as a result of economizing. I am not here on this Earth to let my nose get bent because someone judges me on the quality of my fabric choices.
I’ve never been a brand name purchaser in my 80 plus years, and I’m not starting now. Besides, most of my little darlings end up as gifts to family and friends who appreciate it for what it is — a gift. Something that I took some time and made just for them. I doubt they are going to judge me because I didn’t run down to the city to grab a bolt of Brunshwig & Fils.
It isn’t necessarily a management problem, but a market problem. The quilting market has shrunk each of the last 10+ years. We are an aging demographic, with less disposable income than we had before we retired, (not to mention the huge stashes that most of us have).
COSTS have skyrocketed as well, cotton is a commodity, and as such, it experiences wild swings in prices.
FREIGHT COSTS, which used to be so small as to be hardly worth measuring, continue to increase to the point that they are a significant factor in the cost of fabric being shipped around the globe.
So, yeah, it would be nice if it cost less to the quilter, but apparently, there’s not enough of a market to support it even at current prices.
It’s a business decision. COATS has decided that there is not enough money in quilt fabric to keep the division profitable.
Sad day for all of us, but business is business, and decisions are based on $s.
I certainly don’t know the statistics on quilters and the quilting business, but the modern quilt craze seems to be keeping quilting alive and well, and enticing young people into quilting. I am 63 and have been quilting since I was 20, I love all types of quilting styles. I don’t see the quilting market shrinking, there is something for every taste. Yes the prices are steep, but the love of quilting seems to be persisting.
Wow I sure agree with this!
I worked at the Greer Facility for 14 Years and I totally agree with Nancy! It was one of the most poorly run businesses I had ever worked for in my 45 years of employment. It wasn’t just one bad move that did them in, it was one after another. The leadership was more worried about riding the clock for OT and filling their pockets. In fact, I left there going on a year ago it became so unbearable. I think it finally caught up to them !
This is such a very sad situation, the designers are awesome and I hope will be picked up immediately by another company.
Agreed. I worked for the original Westminster Fibers, and Coats bought it, dismantled it, kept the name, and has been closing down pieces of it ever since.
I agree! Those are my favorite designers and fabrics!!!
Absolutely! If there are weaknesses in the “business model “ that is a poor reflection on Coats. Those designers are the best!
I agree. The designers are great.
Re higher prices Australia & others: President Trump chose not to sign the TPP (TransPacific Partnership) trade agreement which covers trade with 40% of world & would have resulted in decreased tariffs on FreeSpirit & Westminster fabrics exported by U.S. So frustrating for a dedicated quilter from Canada where cotton is $20 a yard.
I support the President and I’m sure the US was getting screwed in that agreement.
The issue has now been resolved. Free Spirit has been purchased by the company producing Henry Glass Fabrics, among others.
This is terrible. Maybe the problem is that some of the fabric lines are not available as I have tried looking for some that are not available. Maybe not enough was offered at Time it came available.
It’s not the fabric, it’s the business management. The Textile and Sewn Products industries have had some of the worst management that I have ever seen in my 40 years working in the industry. Poor management is the fault for their low profits.
Love this fabric! Bad business move.
Yeah – shutting down a non-profitable business – horrible idea!
They’re not making any money on them. That’s as bad as it gets.
Wow. Some really big names there. Hopeful they will find new homes!
So sad , these are the very best designers in the business!!!! Now what?
sounds like very poor marketing department.
It’s always marketing’s fault!
They are big sellers, another company will pick them up.
This is difficult to read ~ terrible news! These are top designers & surely cannot be blamed for lack of profit! Also, some of my favorites designers so I hope they were warned of this & will quickly be employed by other fabric companies!
The fabric is great, but they have been a nightmare to fabric from. They are the most difficult company, by far, with which to do business. We finally had to give up placing orders.
Yes. I had the same experience.
Same here – very difficult to place orders and receive product information for their precuts.
Me too. I have made several attempts (over several years) to connect with Free Spirit in an effort to carry their fabrics, and no one has ever returned my calls or emails.
@Christa and K Davis, and others who have tried to purchase from them, but couldn’t get anyone from the company to respond to them — the company is finally getting their payback. Hopefully the well known designers that worked for them will be picked up by other companies.
It is definitely a company problem, not the most popular designers. If Coats dump their biggest assets they might as well go out of business. There are enough othe thread companies to take care of us without them being around
As an owner of a Quilt Shoppe in Canada, I tried to order fabric from them, but never received the courtesy of a return phone call. I do not sell Coats thread, poor quality. We use And sell Aurifil and Superior threads. Best quality and performance. Hopefully these designers will find new homes and I will be able to stock at Circle of Friends Quilt Shoppe in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
I have been trying to place a new order for weeks! Terrible new customer service and to see other shop owners opinions I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who feels like it is a hard company to start a account with!
I had the same experience with them. That company has always been poorly run, in my opinion. But, I’m still shocked that this could happen. Especially considering the designers they have working for them. This certainly puts some good people out of work (at least for awhile) as it doesn’t sound like they were given any notice.
That explains a lot!
This is a bit of insight into the situation. Would lead one to believe someone at the helm should have a better grasp of the industry norms and how to manage such a company. I’ve got to believe the designers were blindsided as I’ve seen a few advertise new releases of fabric in the past couple of days. In the end it’s a business and you do have to make a profit for the long haul to be able to survive.
I fully agree with you. It clearly is not the designers faults. They are all very popular and have nothing to do with how Coats is run. It has to be a management problem. The
Hey need new people at the helm that know what they are doing. Fire them, not the designers!
Ditto. I quit ordering from them years ago. I would rather give my business to companies that treat me well and are easy to work with.
Fabric/yard goods has historically been the lowest profit producing part of textile goods always. People do not want to pay what it costs to produce and get these goods to the final consumer. Ask yourself….when have you purchased any of their lines in person v online and at full price? Big names cost $$. There continues to be a shake down in the textile industry. Look at the route TNNA is going. Economists predicted this to start happening around 2015, once quotas were lifted back in the early 90’s, because it takes about 20 years to see the results of something so drastic, and once imports became a free for all they flattened the value of USA textile goods. Sadly.
Here in the midwest of U.S. spend around 12$ a yard for these fabrics. There are cheaper for those who want them. In Europe they spend around 20 euro (from what I read on-line) I think most quilters here would spend more. Those who won’t or can’t don’t buy now anyway.
You may spend more, but fabric keeps going up.I cant afford more.That has been ongoing topic of discussion in my neck of the woods.
We pay $30 per m here in Australia
$30-$35 here in New Zealand.
In Canada we’re seeing prices at $24.99/m. It’s driving people to buy online.
You’re so right. Sometimes we’ll even have to spend more than 20 euros to buy those fabrics and we don’t want to spend more on fabrics than a maximum of 17 euros a meter(little bit more than a yard). Coveralls of the quilt stores here in Sweden have closed because of a lack of customers.
12$ is half of the price we paid for these fabrics in Sweden.
Wow. I had no idea quilting fabrics were so expensive outside the U.S.
$25-$27.50 per metre in Australia but plenty of folks willing to pay that and more for high quality textiles
Actually, even online, the average price per yard for these designers is between $10-12 per yard, unless you go with a retailer that purchases large quantities, then you can get a break and pay $9.50. I would rather be able to purchase my favorite designers locally, but very few brick and mortar stores are near me, so I have to order online. Also, it is just not possible for a small Quilt shop to carry everything I might want, it would be prohibitive. Not sure why Coats had such a poor business plan when other companies are clearly making a go of it.
So Coates bought Free Spirit probably lowered everyone’s benefits, layed off staff, raised prices for maximum corporate profits, promoted men who nothing about the business but went to business school and then shut down a great organization when they couldn’t meet unrealistic projections. Story of life these days. Now all those who really knew the business can find work at MacDonalds and those who didn’t can take their bonuses and find another important fabric business to ruin. Way of the world in a Trump universe!
Coats has owned Free Spirit for nearly two decades.
Couldn’t agree more. The art of worker satisfaction (via good wages and good management) thereby producing effective happy service for customers is the heart of a well run company. This is the business model every company should be following!!! Take note all you failing cut throat ceo’s and boardrooms!!!!
Oh, please, don’t make even this political. That’s an idiotic statement!
You can’t blame everything on him. This is a company issue which sounds like it had a lot of internal issues.
I only ever purchase Free Spirit fabrics at a quilt shop, never online. The cost per meter here for a solid in Canada is roughly $11 per meter, which I think is great. Of course designer fabrics are more….up to about $17 a meter. I only use Free Spirit solids because I love the softness of it….I am not a fan of Kona. I think I’ll have to make a trip to my favourite quilt shop to see what I can get of my favourites!
It’s upwards of $28/m here know Australia.. sometimes even more!
What direction is TNNA taking? I saw that some people were unhappy at Spinzilla.
The best designers in the business and Coats cannot make their company profitable. A very sad day for the fabric industry.
I agree. They have the best designer in my mind and they can’t make it work? Seem they should have stopped their thread line a th cabinets in the stores keep shrinking as other thread companies take over the market. Stupid management, should be fired.
Looks like management doesn’t know how to market and run this company.
With top designers like these being
Given the boot obviously the top management needs to be replaced.
Just terrible! Hard enough to find these designers fabrics locally.
Just because you have good products does NOT mean you will have a successful company. Economics is the big player.
Well said Kay. Great product. Hopefully other companies will learn a lesson and not sell to F*****.com and other discount sites. The entire industry needs to put their foot down and band together to keep the prices up. The economics of it are what is to blame, not the quality of the product.
I think you just hit the nail on the head, If Westminster and Free Spirit were able to make money on their own, they would be doing fine. They couldn’t, so Coats bought them, and Coats does not need a money loser. I’m confident the big designers will find new homes.
Judy – Antitrust laws and the FTC prohibit price fixing. It prohibits competition amongst companies and ends up driving prices up.
This president has only been with Coats since October according the things I’ve read, so it technically is new management. I’m just sick about all this.
Just so sad
What on earth are you thinking? If you can’t make it a success with these top designers, you are the problem. These are my favorite fabrics and I buy plenty of them. Beyond sad….ANGRY!
It is a hard business model to support when many wholesale products are sold at a huge discount to massive online retailers who then deep discount them to their customers. Do you think that Cr****y, Am*****n, J*****ns, M****S***r pays the same whole price as a LQS? Not hardly. Perhaps if they had MAP pricing in effect it would have helped their bottom line. So, it begs to be asked, how much did the consumer play a part in this? The majority of whome are always seeking the cheapest price. Businesses can not stay IN business when they can’t charge enough to pay their own bills. Sad, sad, sad. I’m sure these VERY talented and popular designers will get picked up by other manufacturers and if I was the designer, I’d make it part of my contract that MY fabric lines can not be advertised or sold for less than $XX.
YES!!! This exactly. They did it to themselves.
Tisha Copeland – price fixing is against the law.
MAP pricing isn’t price fixing. Footwear brands have been using it for years.
OH Trisha you are singing a song that I know the words to well. They may be the first to go, but they won’t be the last. F*****.com is one of the worst. I own a brick and mortar shop and I sell online, and I can’t even buy, at a wholesale price, what F*****.com is selling for. So, pretty soon, it will be the only company out there selling fabric and all the other little retailers will die. They squeeze the fabric companies for such a low price, they can’t possibly make it. The consumer is partly to blame, but so is the industry. They should hold firm to their price and not sell to the big box discount companies. It drives me crazy. Moda is one company that does not sell to F*****.com and they are doing extremely well. I will continue to patronize them. As for distribution, I never had any trouble getting product from Free Spirit, so maybe it’s regional. My rep is very good, so maybe it’s partly the way in which the orders are submitted.
This is how it is with EVERY small business. I have one myself that is not quilting related. But if it weren’t for the internet stores, I would never have been able to get some of these fabrics. It is the new way. We haven’t much choice.
I come from the garment business and the quilt market industry has brutal business practices with regards to distribution and lack any control on where their product ends up at retail. I see things that make me shutter and I don’t have a LQS.
This is exactly what Walmart has done to other types of manufacturers. I use to work for a popular paper company and Walmart not only squeezed all the pennies out of the manufacturer but would THEN claim false damage to receive even deeper cuts. If a pallet was marked as if the fork truck had bumped it. ….not a full blown broken pallet but just a mark, they’d scream merchandise damage. These large box stores/larger companies ruin it for the smaller ones because SOMEONE has to make up the costs or a company goes out of business. We need to somehow stop the asinine demands of these large stores who think small manufactures can’t thrive without them. Purge their greedy ways prior to having to close your doors. I never dreamed I’d pay $8-$15 a yard for cotton woven but gladly do for the quality and service received from some of these great small shops! I can’t step in J****’S without being irritated by something petty.
I completely agree with you. I am a brick an mortar shop that employs 5 people, offer classes and help people figure out there projects. Some of these come into my shop with fabric they have purchased online at a cost I can’t compete with, but can you help me. If fabric companies don’t stop the sale to everyone that can buy ten bolt and sell on line there will be no one out there teaching the next generation of fabric buyers which will put us all out of business
I took a tuffet class at Jackman’s Fabric in St. Louis last year. Their request was to buy all fabric and supplies at their shop. Which of course, the 8 of us did.
This does not surprise me at all! It is about economics. Everything is going up in price which squeezes down the entertainment dollars. And quilting and other crafting hobbies are taking a big hit because we(I ) have less money to spend in this arena and the cost are going up too high on the fabrics and other items. I would think nothing of purchasing quality cotton fabric for an entire quilt a couple years ago, but not today! I will only supliment my current stash if needed. It is a good thing I have a substantial stash. I understand that the clothing industry abroad is buying all the cotton and that is driving up the costs. Something needs to be done at the raw product level if anyone wants to stay in the business. We have lost about 50% of stores in the twin cities, I think related to slow sales due to higher costs. If nothing is done I can see this entire industry dieing off. This problem is bigger than the free spirits of the industry or the designers. It starts before they produce product. I will return to purchasing fabric when I see some changes at the base of the industry.
F…com ???? Putting the usual swear word in her makes no sense at all.
Helen I’m refering to Fabric.com
I own a B&M QS too, so I understand the frustration with giant discounters! I’m right there with ya sista!
I believe that is not correct. Moda does sell to f….com. I believe coats didn’t pay attention to the buying trends, people want precuts and patterns showing how to use the product. Millennials want Kits and prefer everything precut so they can just sit and sew. Most people no longer buy yards for a stash, just enough for one project. The more enticing projects presented, the more they will buy to make that project. Unfortunately most of the projects to use Kaffe fabric require purchasing his expensive books, unless you have a handy in-house quilt designer. Amy Butler was smart to provide many free pattern downloads on her own website.
Sorry to disagree with you but I never buy pre-cuts . I choose each fabric I buy and I’ve noticed that there are always one or two fabrics in pre-cut packs that don’t really “go” .
I buy fabric by the metre in Australia and by the yard online from mainly two companies in America.
I have been a quilter for 35 years and almost always find that each fabric I purchase ends up being used in at least two projects, sometimes years apart.
I shall miss Wilmington fabrics very much.
You know that F*****.com is owned by Amazon. In less than 5 years the only brick & mortar shops will be in vacation spots. Everyone will be buying on-line. The other day, a customer came in looking for a low priced sewing machine for her daughters. She wanted me to have it drop shipped to her house. I told her my distributor sends it to me and I’d have to charge shipping to get it to her, but that we give a free lesson and train how to use it. I showed her what we had. Right in front of me she looked on her phone and of course found the same machine on Amazon for the same price but free shipping because she has Amazon Prime. Click! she ordered it and then said, “Oh I’m so sorry” as if she realized how rude she was. I told her, that’s Ok I’ll see you again when you need a lesson or a better sewing machine.
Our LQSs already charge more for Kaffe fabrics. I’m not a fan, but my sister is. I get sticker shock when I see fabric over $12 a yard. I’m sure I’ve purchased FS in the past but I base it on what I like. The only time I consider the source is on solids. Some are thinner than others.
Thank you Trisha Copeland…. it’s sad to see so many quilt stores go out of business because they can’t cover all the expense since people are so want to order online. I want to see the color I’m getting… you don’t always get true colors from a computer and I want to handle the fabric I purchase. J——-s fabric is such awful quality … I never buy fabric there.. and I don’t shop for much at all there period… I support my local quilt shop… it takes a village to keep them. We are losing so much in this country and people won’t be happy until they have limited options. In the end… it will be the consumer who loses but right now people are still too busy making excuses why they can’t shop local. Good luck with what you all end up with.
Free Spirit already denied accounts to retailers that wouldn’t match their business models. Art Gallery requires retailers to charge MSRP as a minimum
Yes, lots of companies have MAP (Minimum Advertised Prices) in effect — Bernina does, so does Accuquilt (for their die cutters and dies), and those are just the ones that come to mind immediately. You know, the brands in the fine print on your JoAnn’s coupon that are excluded from the discount.
Yes! Exactly this!
I agree wholeheartedly. There will come a time when we can no longer touch and feel anything we are buying. A sad day. The designers should absolutely have a say in protecting the Local fabric stores who carry their product.
Awful news for the great designers I love to follow and purchase their fabrics! Sounds like the business side has problems!
It was a distribution issue. I looked for two solid months for Amy Butler fabric and never found it. They must have had a total failure of a business plan. So we, as the consumer, will loose again because a company just can’t get their act together.
What do you mean you looked for Amy Butler fabric for two months and never found it? Do you mean you searched online and were unable to find a particular print? Or any Amy Butler fabric at all? I’m curious because I’ve never had trouble finding Free Spirit or Westminster Fabrics, nor have I ever had any troubles as a retailer ordering and receiving them.
This appears to be a result of poor management. If you can not be profitable with these designers, you are right to cease these operations.
Fabric is a tough business for both manufacturers and store owners. Your LQS and online shop are not making a lot of margin on fabric because cost to buy from the manufacturer keeps going up retail price pressures limit margin. LQS’s and the fun online quilt stores (like ilovefabric[dot]com, FQS, Hawthorne, etc.) get squeezed by rising fabric costs and price competition from both big discounters like fabric[dot]com and small mom & pop sellers who are well-intentioned, but have very low overhead and advertise super low margin prices. Manufacturers make so little margin as it is and can only make it up in high volume, but there is a bit of saturation in the market so while we keep getting new lines and are excited for them, manufacturers aren’t printing as much yardage for each run. It’s a losing battle for many. The industry needs fewer releases and more creative collaboration around the lines we love, rather than constantly chasing the next line that comes out and growing your stash faster than you can tackle projects.
Sarah, I agree with your reasoning about too many fabric lines, too soon. I wish they would slow it down a bit–we can’t buy everything! I try to keep to my LQS/quilt shows and the fun online shops (mentioned previously), as I want to keep my business “in the family,” so to speak.
Very good points.
Exactly this! Been shouting it from the rooftop for years but proletariat thought I was just nuts.
I’m a huge Tula Pink fan and I really hope we will see her designs again VERY SOON. I pre-ordered a bundle just after Christmas. Crossing my fingers that I get it! Thank you for sharing this info.
You did this to Rowan Yarns as well and they are still going strong. When dealing with Westminster working at a local yarn store in CA it was difficult so I firmly believe that the problem lies with Westminster/Coats and not the designers or products. You almost seem proud of dumping this wonderful products but I am sure they will be picked up and go from strength to strength with another company. Very sad news
They are truly the very best designers in the industry. However, I think that the designers themselves were probably doing well but their fabric maybe wasn’t selling as well as their names were. For example, what I mean by that, is that some of their fabrics were a little trickier to use. And while people loved them and thought that they were beautiful, they were not necessarily buying them in large quantities. These designers were selling books and products, but the fabric company didn’t necessarily benefit from those sidelines. These designers had huge followings but that didn’t translate into dollars for Free Spirit. I am a modern quilt shop owner and have a successful online shop, and I honestly have to say that those fabrics don’t sell as well as many of my other lines. They get a lot of “hits” and “favorites, but they don’t really sell all that well. People look at it and say that it’s beautiful, but then they really don’t purchase it. I hope to God that these designers get picked up by other companies, or form their own company. That would be the best thing–for them to form their own company.
Free spirit fabrics never ever moved out of my shop. Kaffe did though. Seems like they should have been more selective with which designs went to print.
I had the same experience, I believe because customers were buying them from discounters & buying clubs. i stopped ordering Free Spirit and stuck with companies that supported my business with higher order minimums and price protection. I closed my business and still have bolt upon bolt of free spirit at my house now that I couldnt even sell at liquidation prices thanks to the saturation of low prices yard age available. Andover, Dear Stella, Cotton + Steel had more mass appeal and sold well for me. It’s sad to lose shot cotton, but these designers will do well with a different company.
Gosh, the last thing we need is another fabric company! Hopefully the designers will just get picked up by another company.
I can see your point (that people may “love but not purchase”) as these designers’ fabrics probably would not work in most people’s homes. The bright colors and designs are fun, but would a quilt made from them actually look nice thrown over your living room chair, for example. I have a basket of Kaffe and Amy Butler fabrics that I love but haven’t used. Maybe for that very reason. I don’t know, but it’s an interesting thought.
IMO many companies/ designers produce too many ranges, there isn’t enough time for stores to sell one range before the designers are showing the next range on social media which I turn makes customers forget the current instore range and want to get the newer one.
Too much range churn leads to discounting which devalues the product and this is magnified by online discounters and chain stores.
I totally agree with this and would take it a step further. I like to purchase bundles of a collection, but due to the sheer enormity of some of FreeSpirit’s collections, that has become financially impossible to me. Where I used to buy 2 yards of each print in a collection of 10 prints, I now buy maybe a FQ bundle and with All Stars/Stripes/Pompoms, I only purchased a Layer Cake bc the collection is MASSIVE; 42 prints not including Solids and with a Layer cake, I only get 1 square of each print and most quilt patterns require at least 2 of each print. And it’s only been since what, September since 23 prints released for Spirit Animal and July when 14 released for Holiday Homies. And De la Luna (now completely cancelled 🙁 ) it was releasing June 1 with 18 prints. It’s way too much way too fast. A horrible business model. Most LQS don’t have the space, not to mention the funding, to buy complete collections at that rate. They have to be diverse in their offerings of more than just one designer with one Manufacturer.
Excellent point! As an avid “collector”of Tula’s prints, I could never keep up with sewing all of them along with all of the other new lines I’m stashing!
I’ve been thinking this for awhile.
I could not agree more. If love been telling reps for years. Several years ago Coats Europe even had a consulting firm vet their business model. I invested hours meeting with their consultants, coming up with ideas for them pinpointing where issues lie etc.
All that time was just wasted. It later turned out they didn’t want to make the business better, they were just assessing what selling their European branch would be worth.
I have been sewing for 50 years and often wondered if too much fabric was being produced and where did the unsold fabrics go? A hobby quilter can only buy a certain amount of fabric. I wonder if pushing more and more and more fabrics without a good business model has anything to do with it? Either way I agree that these designers will figure it out and continue to be successful after this.
I have had a similar experience with fabrics by these amazing designers: lots of admirers, not that many buyers. I am not sure why.
Really bad news. Very hard to understand. The designers have given us some of the best fabrics on the market. They will hopefully be snapped up quickly by other companies.
The current designers will surely be snapped up by other companies.
I’m very curious about “the inherent weakness” and will be interested to hear more. The Fassett and Schmidt lines have been my favorites for years.
I cannot believe you make more money in other divisions of your company. I wonder how much the CEO makes in salary and bonus. This is a decision that will haunt you in the future.
Maybe it has to do with Coats and not the fabric and designers.
That was my first though.
I love their fabrics especially Tula Pink and Kaffe Fasset, but do not purchase very often because they are way out of my price range. The only time is when they go on sale or I have a major great coupon. I wish I could have been more supportive a widows pension will only go so far.
I am a Denyse Schmidt fan, love her fabric. I’m in Australia and pay $AUD28+ per metre. I have only found two Tula fabrics I liked and they were selling for $AUD60 per yard on a destash/ebay site. Some people still buy them, but I find this way of selling unethical. I sent a message to Tula Pink on Facebook about it. The designers are being ripped off by individual consumers that take advantage of their favourite designers to earn money off them. The designers aren’t getting a cut from these sales. I often wonder about the mark up as well from the LQS and Coats. The mark up here is disgusting. I know the manufacturers and LQS are in business to make money, but I believe the designers need to stand up and do something about this. They must make a pittance in the big scheme of things. And afterall, it’s their sweat, tears and ideas that people are exploiting. In my opinion, it’s no different than ripping a dvd or cd. There’s obviously demand for these designers but what’s the point when the average Joe can’t afford them.
I think you are grossly misunderstanding the supply chain, the economics of the business, the way designers are paid for their work, and what it takes to get fabric to consumers.
People selling older, hard to find and out of print fabrics that they have had in their stash to other consumers has absolutely nothing to do with this. They paid for the fabric originally, and are free to do with it what they please. I can promise you Tula herself does not object to this, nor does any designer whose fabrics because more valuable and sought after over time.
I would respond to the rest, but I would encourage you to better educate yourself about this issue.
Unfortunate for the designers but hopefully they will continue their great work elsewhere! Not a whole lot the public can do about it when there was no warning (foreshadowing?)! My designers certainly were buying the fabric lines–so we did our part!
This is sad but because Coats is not making a profit does not reflect on the designers. They are all awesome so someone else will pick them up.
Wow!!! Just Horrible News! First the Thread, now the Fabrics!!! I don’t see How You Have Anything Left to sell to customers!? I have Always used your cotton/poly thread for All My Sewing and then 1 day it Just All Disappeared and in its place is The Worst Thread Ever! Mayyybe you made a Poor Choice doing that, you think? You had to lose a Ton of Profit Dollars because I do not buy Any of your thread and am told by other sewers they are not buying it either! So Now your doing the same thing with Fabrics???? You Need People who Know How to Run a Company Successfully as it is Apparent the Current Ones only Know How To Run it into the Ground! Such a Loss!
Just to be clear, we aren’t affiliated with Coats.
Old coats thread was horrible. New coats thread is better all around.
However, old Amy butler was lovely, newer amy butler was just…. hodgepodge.
Tula I LOVE.
Let’s face it, quilting is on a downward spiral. Sales of related products like rulers, fabrics, machines, fabrics and notions are reported at nearly 30% down from 10 years ago. Who reading this can’t admit that quilt shops near them have closed? So the pullback from the supporting industry is inevitable and unfortunate-but the average age of a quilter has gone over the 70 yr old mark and unless younger quilters take up the baton,it will die as a craft. We rode a long high crest and it’s on it’s way back down. Plain and simple….
I was hoping to get more into quilting now that I am home a lot but have discovered how awfully expensive it is so will stick with sewing clothing and smaller projects. Very sad, but fabric prices are ridiculous and the pressure to use the BEST fabrics is immense.
Don’t give in to the pressure, if you really want to quilt, then find fabrics that you can afford. Quilting was always a ‘make-do’ craft. Nothing wrong with using ‘non-quilting’ fabric, or even used fabric. You will find that your quilts are unique and don’t look like everyone else – who is buying the exact same fabric lines.
If you are sewing clothes, then you already have leftover fabric!
I think this comment is misguided. Are you active on Instagram? We are a huge community of quilters, and I promise most of use aren’t over 70.
Kristin is right there is a huge movement going on with young people coming in to quilting. And yes, it is evident on Instagram. But, one thing that most people don’t understand is that Instagram success rarely translates into dollars. These designers are incredibly talented, and have tons of followers, but for many many reasons outside of their control, the fabric industry isn’t able to stay afloat selling the fabric that is designed by them. It’s like looking at fine art…many people see it, love it, but fewer people buy it. I own a successful brick and mortar modern shop and sell online. Even my target demographic is not buying FS fabrics in huge quantities. Modern quilters are getting more and more of their fabrics online, and many of these online sites deeply discount, such as Fabric.com. Fabric.com has squeezed the fabric companies for such ridiculously low prices that either they will go out of business from such a low price, or, the competition dries up and the fabric companies have fewer and fewer people distributing and selling their product. This all translates into less money and companies fold.
Modern quilters, contrary to what many believe, are not just a young demographic. Last year at QuiltCon the average age of customer buying at my booth was 45-60, and boy they were buying!!!! But, what they were buying wasn’t Free Spirit, for the most part. People will come and say that it’s beautiful and that they love it, but then what they actually bought was something entirely different. Are they the most talented designers out there? You bet. I feel privileged to be in a time period where there are so many artists that have art that will transcend time. But just because their art transcends time doesn’t mean people will buy it. How many artists in their lifetimes that are famous now were poor at the end of their lives? In order to keep an artist afloat, people have to be willing to buy the art in fairly large quantities. I never ever had trouble with Free Spirit in terms of distribution or delivery. I always got what I ordered it exactly when it was supposed to arrive. My rep was extremely dependable. It’s possible that they had problems on many different levels.
Did fabric.com do something to you? I cannot find every fabric I want locally. I routinely purchase on line and fabric.com is the same price as every other on line store. What is your beef with them. PS Their customer service is great! I ordered a Tasha Noel line that had a border print, little red riding hood….I received it and thought because the border print was folded inward that they did not send it. I called and they sent me the border print, only for me to unfold the polka dots and there was the border print I didn’t think I received. I called them horrified to pay for the extra fabric. They told me to keep it as a gift. As a consumer, fabric.com has treated me well as have the other on-line stores.
I’m over 70, as are many of my friends. We have seen sewing, bag making and quilting increase in popularity over the past 10 years. Most of these art forms have been around for generations. Adjustments certainly will be made due to computers and the Internet. That’s happening to everything. It will certainly have winners and losers. It has been my life experience that popularity of many things in life run in cycles. In vogue 8 years, decline 8 years, increase 8 years. Think how Disney rests their movies. They use this cycle of time then introduce a more modern version of the same old stories. Businesses will need to adjust or sure they won’t make it. The ones that can offer today’s customer what they want and need will survive. Oh and if you have a storefront give children’s classes. They are your future!
After reading her comment, I thought of the large club I belong to. While many of us are over 70, the majority certainly are younger. Many think it’s only the “old people” doing it but so not true.
What quilters do you know? I’m 42 and most of the quilters I follow are my age or younger!
There are also many kids getting into quilting, doing so very well at Australian Quilt Conventions. My daughter is starting out at 12, but I suppose the young aren’t included in research because it’s the parents or grandparents who are buying the fabrics.
I would like to review the data on quilters as a crafting group. Has there been extensive research done? I see a broad span of age from 30’s to 80’s with the majority 45-60. Any resources you have would be greatly appreciated.
I agree! I’m 41 years old and often feel on the older side of my quilting peers. The reason LQS are closing is people are buying online from cheaper sources. I think you are out to lunch thinking quilting is on its way out with an average age of 70.
I really can’t agree with you on that Carla. I was at a Tula Pink lecture in the UK a week ago and the average age was wayyy under 70. There were even kids there.
The industry may be changing but there is a huge swell of younger quilters to engage with.
I feel very sad that we may loose some of these inspirational designers.
Where I live my LQS are doing great! The one 5 mintes from my house is growing larger. The other is 20 minutes away and is doing great as well. The popularity of sewing is on its way back thanks to shows like Project Runway.
The local quilt shops have closed because they can’t compete with the big online discounters. I do not think the average age of a quilter is over 70. The modern quilt guild is going strong
I don’t agree with that. Quilting has had a huge resurgence with young quilters 20-45 years old.
Obviously you aren’t very active in the crafting social media circle, if you think there aren’t any younger quilters. There are a LOT of us and we happily buy fabric and support quilting companies. Maybe you should take a keek around the internet before you start writing quilting’s obituary…
Gee, talk about pessimistic!
The 70+ crowd isn’t encouraging to younger quilters. The regime of “quilt Nazis” has turned away many many young beginners. I see it all the time in our online group. The burden of continuation is on all of us to encourage and help younger quilters grow their love of quilting rather than diminish it.
I am over 70 and I love teaching younger people to quilt.I find the quilting police is stronger with the more traditional quilters. I quilt modern type quilts always have and will until I pass from this earth. Modern quilters have a different set of quilting rules. Yes, I do on occasion do a more traditional quilt to learn the technique that I then expand on in my modern quilts. I have been quilting since the late 60’s and watched quilting change. It is changing again, not sure of the direction.
I am under 40 and have been lucky in that I’ve only ever been encouraged. But since becoming an admin for a few Facebook quilting groups, I’ve seen what some of the older more experienced ladies say and do to a lot of our younger new sewists. At first it was shocking to me, as I’d not experienced it before, but now it’s just normal. We boot the rude and discouraging members after schooling them and then add them to the mean kid list (that just keeps getting longer) I’ve had so many new quilter’s up and quit bc they felt they weren’t good enough when in reality, they were just new. Believe me when I say, it’s been eye opening for me
I have a feeling that some of these so called “quilt police” are just trying to pass along the rules they learned, but don’t manage to convey what they are saying with enough tact. The lack of actually being face to face with someone does make it harder. There is good reason behind some of the old rules, but some are obsolete. Some people struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder and can’t see some things being done differently.
Marian, well put. My guild has approximately 75 members of ALL ages. It’s the traditional guilds that have predominantly older quilters, with all of their rules. There is no faster way to turn away newcomers than to comment that the stitching should be”one thread over”.
I’m over 70, and have been quilting since my mid 20s. Since I’m self -taught, I’d read a book or magazine article and say to myself, “Who the blast are these people, and where do they get off laying down all of these rules?” As the years passed, and I did some teaching, I always shared what few tricks worked for me, and requested the students to share any tricks that worked for them. That’s the spirit I look for. Express yourself, no matter what. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but if it makes you happy, that’s what counts.
I agree that there are a few ‘older’ quilters who try to police younger quilters and discourage them. BUT…there’s a HUGE community of new and younger quilters out there who support each other. If you see that type of behavior in a group, I hope that you will challenge it. And, then, go find another group OR start one on your own that has a more supportive creative vibe.
Agreed. I’m 44 and have been quilting for nearly 20 years. It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve started to feel respected when shopping at brick-and-mortar shops or taking classes at shows, and that’s only with the shops and teachers who know me now. Older quilters can be VERY condescending to younger quilters, assuming that you must be a total beginner who knows absolutely nothing unless you have an AARP card. And as much as I agree with the idea of supporting local quilt shops, I’m not going to pay more money to shop where salespeople talk down to me, the fabric styles look outdated and unappealing to me, and the prices are higher than the stuff I REALLY love that I can only find online.
Thank you, we’ll said
Amen. I don’t like to paint all with one brush, etc, but I feel exactly the same way for very similar reasons. In Canada, we often pay *over* $20 CAD per yard in a local quilt shop and there is no TULA or KAFFE and the selection is minimal. I understand WHY those prices are the way they are. I do not disagree with the reasons. I do believe that perhaps buying and/or selling fabric over the counter is not for everyone. I have had really good luck with eQuilter.com lately getting exactly what I want at a reasonable price. I really hope that everything shakes out in a positive way for the designers and manufacturers. I will miss the soft silky hand of a FS cotton though. :/
Sorry I am nowhere near that age and I love love quilting have done since 1994 when I took my first class and enjoyed it even more when I moved to the States and joined Folsom Quilt Guild so don’t lump us all please that is not fair
As another person under 70 I would love to buy fabric from a bricks and morter shop however most of these premises stock fabrics that suit older customers or faded traditional style quilts. Now that there is more brighter, cleaner modern fabrics (not gaudy or cutesy designs) I’m enjoying sewing, I just wish there had been more choice earlier. If you want the younger customers you need to find out what tempts them to part with their time and money, and then stock those items.
I am one of those “over 70” quilters. At this age, we’ve been quilting for 30-40 years and have built up quite a stash. Although, most of us can afford to buy fabric, we’re using our stash. I no longer buy fabric for backs but piece with what I have.
My daughter’s generation are too busy working to have the time to quilt. When my generation is gone, I wonder who will support quilting ??? Bad business plan or not, more will fall.
The modern quilt movement has brought in many younger quilters. Just go to Quilt Con and it is filled with them, eager to learn and connect with designers such as Tula Pink and Anna Marie. Horner. The market is there!
The average age of the quilters has actually dropped a few years! And I have seen an uptick of younger quilters in my shop.
Now maybe now they can go back designing for Blank Quilting Company. I have been a direct buyer and avid fan of Coats & Clark sewing, yarns, crochet, knitting Supplies products stocks in my store and that was 10 years ago. They became scattered. The added a Fabric lines to compete with All of the Fabric maker in the world. It Did Not work. More is Less, Less is More. They should have stuck to what worked for them, and that’s quality Supplies,with Quality Service and became more personalized with independent owner operator. Your Sales Rep are the KEYS to your success. Keep plugging. When you dropped Quality, you Dropped Quality Buyers and they don’t buy from big box. They buy from independent owner/operator like me. Thank you Blank Quilting! Please hire some of those designer.
So horrible! Free Spirit fabrics is really all I buy anymore. I do buy online but mostly from the smaller shops that are also a physical shop. I have several health problems that include a very weak immune system. Going out to shop in person especially in flu season is just not beneficial for me.
My fantasy is that the wonderful free Spirit designers will form their own cooperative and continue inspiring all of us!
I don’t love my LQS for lots of reasons, but one thing I’ve noticed (that I definitely take advantage of) is that they sell a lot of older stuff of these designers, esp DS and AB at ridiculously low prices. I’ve bought yardage as low as 2.99 a yard, which makes me think it’s definitely a supply problem. There’s no way they are profiting off that, if the LQS is somehow making a profit at 2.99…
The LQS and online shops aren’t making money at $2.99/yd for the modern quilting cottons (DS, AB, etc.). They are just moving out old fabric to make room for the new ones. A lot of the clearance fabric you buy the stores are either selling at a loss or near break even. It’s just part of the business. The key is to know your customer base and not overbuy and get stuck with stale fabric that you can’t sell.
Its actually not clearance fabric. They bring it in as “special buy” marked 2.99 to 4.99 usually and it’s been almost exclusively FS fabrics that’s name brand. It really baffles me, bc I don’t see the point unless it’s just to get people in the store.
$2.99 is SIGNIFICANTLY below the regular wholesale price of those fabrics. Even if the shop got the fabrics on sale from the company because they were older, they didn’t get them for less than $2.50 a yard. So the shop isn’t really making money on them.
Actually, FS did periodically sell their backstock for less than $2/yd. So perhaps that was part of the problem.
I’ve heard complaints from other quilters that the quality of Kaffe’s fabrics has been poor lately…not the designs.
Again, mismanagement, like we’ve seen in recent years. The only people getting money is the people who make uninformed decisions.
Sad however I am sure (well I sincerely hope) the stellar designers will be snapped up or have other opportunities soon. I usually always purchase a whole FQ collection and sometimes more of Denyse Schmidt and Anna Maria Horner. And if you think fabric is expensive in the US think about all of us across the pond in Australia and beyond. We pay much, much more, but now I only buy a few select designers now. It is an expensive hobby (buying fabric lol – I mean quilting) but as they say it’s cheaper than therapy!
It would be sweet if moda picked up these designer’s.
Tula Pink used to be with Moda. I doubt know that she would want to go back.
I’m an independent pattern designer with a small quilt store. Our local j.. sells their premium quilt Cotton for 15.95 a yard. The most expensive fabric in my store is $12 a yard. So unless you want to go everyday to use a 50% off coupon for your one cut of fabric, your better off purchasing from the lqs.
You can use a coupon on each item in a transaction, as long as the coupons each have a different bar code. So combining your paper coupons with ones from the app, your email, etc, you can get quite a lot in one transaction. And with a VIP or teacher discount, you don’t have to use a coupon, just wait for the fabric to go on sale. I’ve been impressed with Joanns new quilting fabric.
They need to price fabrics to small shops equally with large ones. I wonder just how much profit the CEOs get. The American denim manufacter in SC was purchased then within a year waa closed. Putting a whole town out of work. Greed is the downfall.
Very interesting news, Abby! Do you know anything about the contractual arrangements that FreeSpirit had with its fabric designers, and what options each side has for using the designs when FS folds? For example, I wonder if FS could sell the designs to another fabric manufacturer (and would any of them be interested…?), or does ownership revert back to the designers?
I don’t know the answers to these very good questions, Caroline.
Caroline…the designs own the designs. They license the fabric companies to use the design for fabric. Then the designer could do stationary or paper goods designs, or license their designs to other companies that would use them on their products. And the designers only made about 20 cents per yard sold of their fabric designs. I do not think they had anything to do with the companies downfall. Coats is one of the biggest craft companies in the world…..the failure here was of their own making. And the truly sad part is the designers found out today just as we all have. And the pace of the industry is a killer that effects the industry as a whole…..There needs to be a entire industry slow down so we can see all that is out there, and everyone should pay the same wholesale price…that would be truly interesting…. I do not think it is fair that one BIG fabric site can sell fabric for 25-30% less then others. It is fair to no-one….and affects all (consumers & vendors).
Paradiso – I wasn’t suggesting that this had anything to do with FreeSpirit closing down. And whether the designer owns the design is moot… it’s all about who has the rights to use the designs. If the designers signed an exclusive license to allow FS to reproduce their design, then the designer cannot use the design themselves or sell it to anyone else. So the terms of the designers’ contracts dictate what can happen now that the company is closing. Will FS try to make some money by selling off the licenses? Will the right to use the designs revert to the designers? Or will these fabric designs be ‘lost’ forever, with no one legally allowed to use them? I’d be interested to hear from a FS designer or someone at the company.
This is about greed. Period. Coats is known for horrible customer service. It’s a shame, because ultimately it reflects upon its designers.
The major difference, according to a wonderful article published last year, between the younger “modern” quilters (not suggesting that older folks do modern quilts at all) is that younger quilters are not curators, not collectors of massive stashes of fabrics. They are project-driven. They tend to buy only what they need. This practice has had an effect. As for the collectors of KFC, the Kaffe Fassett Collective, part of the problem lies at the feet of Rowan-Westminster management. They have consistently made it impossible to find local sellers of any/all of their products. It would be a matter of a few keystrokes to provide a list of every shop selling the fabrics of each artist. There were easy ways to improve sales. They chose otherwise. Hopefully someone will sign them. Otherwise, there will be some very empty shelves. There is plenty of blame to go around.
Well I for one will NOT be buying anything from “ Coats “. once this all plays out..
You people need to knock this kind of baloney off…………trying to force us to only buy from a few companies of YOUR choosing is NOT the AMERICAN WAY
Uh.. what? Who is “you people”? No one’s forcing anyone to do anything. If anything, there is a glut of choice and that may be the problem.
Oh please, sack the top person and keep the products. Only sell at the same price to everyone, the fact that some companies can buy huge amounts at a discount is what has killed the fabric sales. Sadly greed has reared its ugly head and overpaid head honchos who make bad decisions are ruining yet another wonderful industry and pastime.
This is shocking and depressing news, considering the talent and “star power” of the designers in the FreeSpirit roster. There must have been some serious mismanagement and fulfillment issues behind the scenes.
I could see these talented, smart and business-minded designers banding together with their own overall brand (a la Cotton + Steel) and shopping it as a division to another fabric company.
That’s a brilliant idea! I would love to see that.
I think we all agree that these are some of the best designers in the business whose products are in-demand. If Coats can’t make it with this line-up then they have a serious and multi-faceted problem which has probably been adversely affecting their designers for quite some time. When the dust settles, I am certain the talented designers whose fabrics and trims we like to buy will find new homes and this will be a blessing in disguise.
I don’t have a business degree. I am more of a common sense person. If a big name amusement park’s attendance is down they raise prices to try to keep their income the same. Higher prices in reality drop attendance even more so they close the amusement park. Is that what has been happening at Westminster the past two years?
That is a classic case study in business school.
Is there a reason Coats, W & FS sites have not posted anything on their own sites about this announcement?
Wondering the same thing?? and I can’t find any designer that has commented either.
The letter leaked before Coats could make a public announcement.
Multiple designers have commented on both Facebook and Instagram: Kaffe Fassett Collective, Jennifer Paganelli, Kathy Doughty (and Denyse Schmidt commented on her post.)
Tula Pink did a Facebook live on Tuesday. She stated all of her artwork belongs to her and it will go with her to the new company. She does not work for Freespirit, she partners with them. She can do what she wants with her artwork.
This is my question, as well. I wouls like to see what the Wall Street Journal could do with tgis.
I truly hope my favorite designers will find a more profitable home! Tula Pink, Kaffe Fasset, Amy Butler, quilting world needs you!
Perhaps Ms. Leichtweis and Mr. Howard are not able to manage their business unit cost efficiently.
Time for change management
Leichtweis was only brought on in October, the lack of profitability was from long before she was involved. I would guess that the directive was to stop the bleeding from the fabric division and as terrible as it is for quilters she has probably done what her bosses wanted.
If the company is aware of the “inherent weakness in the business model”, then fix the business model! Don’t shut down the business, especially when it houses some of THE most popular fabric designers in the world! Surely this is fixable. Maybe new management?
I am so saddened by this news. Not surprised, but terribly saddened.
I have immeasurable respect for Coats (Westminster/Free Spirit) for making this brave decision to get out of an unprofitable business. Anyone can beat me up for that comment. I don’t care. Because the business model DOES NOT WORK in the current crazy retail, manufacturing environment. I could write a thesis on it.
Here is the short of it …. manufacturers spend umpteen dollars to produce, distribute, sell and market a bolt of fabric. Labor, transport, designer fees, printing, folding, shipping, warehousing. The list is huge. And they sell to (mostly small) retail stores who pay employees to cut and package and kit and market and sample and (a million other costs) try to sell 15 yards of any one fabric. Because quilters want it in the smallest amount possible.
Only to lose the sale to an online retailer because we can NOT afford (or could not in my case as I closed my retail store) to bring in the entire 24 sku line. 24×15 yards x $5.50/yd = $1980. 1440 fat quarters. For one line. Just one. That is a big risk. Well, in my old Wall Street mind, all my eggs in a few baskets was not the wisest choice. And there were just so many, many lines out there. And so many, many expenses associated with cutting those fat quarters. Payroll, family leave, social security, worker’s comp, accounting, etc…. Not to even talk about the payroll to cut fabric and make samples so that people could see what the line might look like …..
AND, I had to … god forbid … pay my own life expenses and HEALTHCARE. Paycheck and benefits? wow, so much to expect for the 70-hour weeks and capital I put in.
And you all wanted all of them. And prided yourself on quilting with solids. That you proudly bought on Massdrop. Or at Joann’s.
And now the trend is quilting tiny and mini’s and solids. That is all absolutely fine. But please, please, PLEASE, do not EVER complain that the industry is changing. Or think that you have lived through these really, really hard decisions and know what “caused” them.
I am sorry but what did you expect???????????????
Ayup. Lotta truth there Beth. I sell yarn as well as fabric, and it’s been interesting to observe the difference in buying habits between knitters and quilters. The latter require 10x more hand holding…to spend about a quarter as much. Interesting to think about what the yarn industry is doing better at.
Be cautious here folks. I have been through losing a business, and as a matter of fact reopening one too. There are a lot of reasons involved, never just one. I noticed nobody questioned what the designers are demanding. Coates may be a big company but the fabric industry as a whole is not. Sometimes the people in design get too big for their britches. Have you ever noticed some designers jump from company to company? Just ask some of the people who know them and work with them. It’s never the fault of just one person.
I don’t agree with everything you are saying about Quilter’s. I belong to a large Quilt guild and I know in my guild everyone loves making huge quilts, and I like most of my fellow guild members but yards of almost or all of a line that we fall in love with. I can’t tell you how many thousands we have spent on fabrics that we love!!
Wow, laid it on the line bethrps! It’s all true. Shops can only afford to buy a few of the SKU lines, and then pay people to try and convince people to buy the line. SO MANY FAT QUARTERS! I have noticed as well that older quilters ‘add to their stash’ but younger quilters only buy for the projects. This is definitely a change. I love Amy Butler and Tula but find it hard to incorporate some of their prints. They will find someone else but I wonder if ‘building your stash’ will continue to be a thing? Hint: from personal experience, buy ALL the fabric you need for your quilt project when you’re beginning. It probably won’t be there if you come back a few weeks later!
PREACH IT SISTER! When it comes down to buying the same product for less cost the consumer always goes for less cost. Always. But the individuals being squeezed in the end are at the lowest rung of the ladder–the people overseas working in slave conditions. What causes this? The Fabric.coms of the world, the Wal-Marts of the world, the Jo-Anns of the world. I was told in my previous comment that price fixing is illegal. Well, my response to that is it’s illegal for some. Laws aren’t applied evenly. I work easily a 70-80 hour week as a shop owner, author, and designer and barely break even. I am also an RN and some of my personal money from that job go into subsidizing my shop. Fortunately for me, I don’t need to make a living that way. People are choosing the cheaper option, which makes sense, but then all that you will have left in the end to cut and distribute your fabrics are the larger online retailers. When you have only one or two sources to sell to, you will lose markets. I can’t say that I respect Coats, as you have said, but I understand what happened. See also my previous comments on people appreciating and loving great art, and the difference between that and purchasing it. You don’t have to purchase great art to see it and love it.
Honestly? I don’t understand why the big fabric houses are not just hiring people to cut and sell their fabrics directly online. I think that eventually it’s going to come to that.
Anyone who has or does own a Brick and Mortar knows the truth of your statement. Quilters buy FQ’s of these fabrics in the LQS, very few purchases were for yardage. It just didn’t sell in large amounts. The costs of offering fabrics in a Brick and Mortar are huge, and the margins are non-existent. It’s difficult to work so hard to make a shop viable, only to hear complaints about price (we were $12/yard) or to watch people photograph bolt end labels to no doubt purchase online. Yes, there are quilters that purchased yardage, but these sales were not the norm. My business was kept afloat (barely) by garment sewists. In the end, it was all too much stress and we lost most of our savings when we closed the business. It’s a very, very complex issue and perhaps now consumers/quilters will become more educated on the market. People must show your LQS more love if you want them to continue to exist. Yes, it costs more than online. Yes, it can be hard to find time to make a trip. And yes, they may not have every last print you want. But even “successful” shops are struggling to stay afloat and they can’t support designers and manufacturers if bolts languish on the shelves. (This is true for EVERY type of small business- pet stores, art shops, hobby stores.. etc.)
I’m so grateful I’m no longer in the business. I love the creativity, the people, the design and the community. But very few people are making a living in the business, and most dump untold hours of love into it. It is beyond disheartening to hear nothing but complaints from consumers. It currently feels like a lose/lose situation for the industry and customers alike.
Amen to that sister! Living through the same nightmare right now. Worked our butts off for nearly two decades. Regular 70 hour work weeks, killed by all the expenses and even more so our cheap skate customers who’d always love to come to us for what they forgot to buy at the price dumpers massdrops and except us to hold their hand while sewing up what they didn’t even have the decency to buy from us be super we were “too expensive”.
I can’t even when I see consumers in this comment section here whining about US retail price for fabric. Get a grip!
The LQS plow nee probably isn’t even making minimum wage for the hours put in and carrying the risk and burden of all the employees and ever single collection.
I know I’m not the only one burnt out and depressed by now.
Tina, I feel your pain. I have a Modern Quilt Shop in a small town but my customers have learned because I was upfront right in the beginning. I told everyone that they would receive great customer service and help with their projects but if they come to us with fabric that wasn’t purchased from us and wanted help it would be $25 just to have me provide commentary. I would tell them don’t even take it out of the bag if you didn’t buy it here because it would cost $25 for me to give any advice whatsoever. This stopped that practice cold, and I have never had a customer complain about that policy. (at least to my face!!! lol)
Of course, I was kind when I said it. But, as I have said in prior posts, I am an ICU Nurse so I decided that I was going to speak to them in the same manner in which I would tell a patient to stop smoking. Firm, but very kind and compassionate. It goes a long way.
This is an economic issue. Coats started their business a long time ago. They started selling sewing thread and notions and embroidery floss (I inherited skeins for 5 cents a skein!). I am sure 50 years ago their profits were high especially when cotton products were grown, milled, and made in the United States. As any company grows, they add products hoping the profits will grow at the same rates. WWII added a lot of pressure to many industries to provide war supplies. This could have been the start of Coats downfall. Maybe they started making basic cotton for bandages and the grew from there after the war with other fabrics. They happened to pick the most fabulous designers in the fanric industry. And once you have someone like the Rowan Group, how do you turn down Tula Pink and the rest. If you don’t grow in every aspect, from licencising fees to marketing and production costs all of a sudden you are lost. I looked at the websight of the Morris Co that Free Spirit is going under. They have quite (4 I think ) a few HUGE name companies that make drapery fabric (can you say $100 to over $1,000 a yard) plus bedding, wallpaper , carpet et al. They have been in business for many years and they are used to high end products. By the was Kaffe and most of the Morris Co are designed and originate in many different ways in England. All of our favorite batiks come from Southeast Asia, so the USA is kind of behind the power curve a bit in fabric design. We have our fair share and I mean no discontent to them, I am an equal opportunity fabric buyer. It will be very interesting to see all this comes out. Coats may exceed other companies in sewing thread production. For now on Free Spirits website sill shows all their current designers and has added the Morris product line.
If Free Spirit is indeed closing, this is a sad day. Just a though: If they are truly closing, wouldn’t we (quilt shop owners) receive a notification directly from the company? I went to the website tonight and there is no mention of the “closure”. I can’t imagine a company, that supports the designers such as Kaffe, Tula and others would not put out a statement to the direct buyers of that fabric. I have only read about this “on line” and not from the company itself. My hope is this is a hoax or scam to entice us to purchase more?
Also, someone earlier mentioned that Moda did not sell to Fabric.com, however this is one of their largest clients. Fabric.com purchases just as we all do, they just purchase a lot more volume and possibly receive better discounts.
I own a fairly successful independent brick and mortar store in a large area of Texas. Certainly in the past year, we felt a “decline” in sales, however we remain optimistic this is a bump, not a trend.
The letter leaked before Coats could make a public announcement. Multiple designers have confirmed the news to be true on both Facebook and Instagram.
Phyllis–they used to sell to Fabric.com. They recently stopped. Any fabric that Fabric.com has for sale of Moda now are the old lines. This came down in a letter from the company itself.
I own a fabric store and we received our email from FS at 4:25 Mountain time
As one of the families being affected by the closing I can assure you it is no hoax. The employees only found out Monday
We had a fabric shop (not all Quilting) they bought a fabric which was actually a curtain fabric minus the block out. We quilters loved it as a back ground fabric. They bought at X sold at XY and where selling bolts of it! The company then told them if they would not sell at XYZ they could not buy any more from the company. If they as a shop were happy with the price they were selling at what right does a company have to fix the price. after all they are getting their asking price when selling the bolt to the store. Note no competing store within reasonable drive not that any of us found anyway!!!
Therefore we got no more and the company missed out. So it concerns me that if price fixing takes place then in the end our $ only goes so far and we look for cheaper options
You are very right. Price fixing never works. This is a limited availability product. I get it if it’s an unlimited quantity item (say, an ebook, or some kind of written advice that can be downloaded unlimited times.) Say I have 500 yards of a best selling bolt.. but only 500 yards. I want to sell it at $3.99 a yard, and my local quiltshop sells it at 11.99. Why should my local quilt shop scream? I will sell OUT of my $3.99 yard and then they can buy from them. I can’t print more. I can’t manufacture more. I should be allowed to sell it for ANY PRICE I WANT as long as I (as the store owner) am happy with the money that comes in.
Well, I for one love these designers and their Fabric lines. If your company has made it really difficult for stores to buy the Fabric lines that says a lot about your company! I think you should have worked more on your internal workings instead of shutting out the most famous designers! That’s unbelievable!! I predict you will have a lot more problems from here on out, because I for one, do not intend to buy ANY of your products from today forward, just like you did to the designers! I’m going to watch to see who picks them up and buy from them. Unbelievable!!
The reality is this folks: we don’t matter. They’ve made the decision. The hope now is that someone will pick up these talented folks. That said, be prepared for increases in pricing. Whatever we’re paying, remember also that we are fairly spoiled in the US. Stitchers in the UK and Australia are paying $20 or more per yard/meter of the same fabrics.
It’s all going to just turn out how it turns out. It isn’t the end of the world; disappointing, of course, but no one died, for cripes’ sake!
I’m also very surprised with this news, considering I opened a newsletter from Free Spirit just yesterday, inviting us quilters to share our FS makes on Instagram. Not a peep. I can’t help but wonder what the forecast is……
I am sorry that the Coats company could not have turned a profit with the Free Spirit division.
I just do not want to see those big name designers disappear. I love the Free Spirit Designers.
This is a message to the designers, everything is going to be okay because you are leaders in your field because your designs are fantastic. Please just find another design house and make sure their business model is strong.
The change will be difficult but there are quilters like me that still need designers like you.
People are commenting that these are such popular designers, etc. And, if you look at IG, you would probably agree. But in fact, I think that these are niche designers who have a pretty narrow market. My LQS carries a little Kaffe and a little Tula, no Denyse or Jennifer at all. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a Denyse Schmidt fabric in a shop. (And I am ALWAYS looking for it.) If a business model doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. That doesn’t necessarily mean bad management, poor marketing or disloyalty to their customers. Corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. I know folks don’t like to hear that, but it’s true. If they can’t make a particular line of business profitable, they don’t have a lot of other options. I’m as sorry as anyone about this turn of events – I really love Free Spirit, but like any other business, the sewing/quilting market evolves and changes.
How, after taking over in October of last year, is this type of shut down justifiable? And, if it’s truly been “years” why were designers recently contracted? Why wasn’t the business plan re-evaluated much earlier? The timing of this announcement is terrible. Designers, and those they employ are working on samples, booth prep and marketing for Quilt Market which is only three month away. Perhaps the economic evaluation should have been made on the administrative side…Love to get a look at those figures. Instead of blaming the market, and implying your designers aren’t producing fabric profitable to the the industry, try the truth. Personally, I will be hesitant to purchase Coats & Clark products in the future.
This is another interesting read on the topic http://crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com/2018/02/my-advice-to-fabric-companies.html
Thx! Interesting observations.
All I can say is ditto to all of the above. The corporate mentality is to crunch numbers, and when the numbers don’t add up corporate types start to get itchy. Like everybody said, it is not the amazingly talented designers but high price margins and being out of touch and/or poor management. Someone will step in the gap and pick up the slack – it will be interesting to see who is smart enough to seize the opportunity and pull them into their fold. Change can be a good thing!
I loved the design and the quality of the fabric. I found it almost impossible to buy anything larger that fat quarters or small amount here in the south of England. Fabric already on the pricy side was already pushed out of my affordability bracket by having to pay silly amounts of fabric a hugely inflated prices for tiny scraps. I did find an outlet, Hobbycrart, where I purchased a few of the Beautuful Tanya Whelan design in yardage. After a few months the bolts became dirty and frayed. Hobbycraft did not take care to ensure the fabric was of merchantable quality. To be frank, who would pay high prices for dirty fabric. Very sad to see all the designers and staff loosing there jobs. I feel the problem lay and the top of the chain, once the designers passed the ‘baton’ to the sales and marketing division.
Too bad they couldn’t revise their business plan to make it work. Unless the people at the top understand the business, it is hard for them to change. Obviously they went with designers that have made a name for themselves. Designers usually have a certain style that is their own, but it seems to me that what buyers want changes just like fashions. ( I don’t believe I have ever had fabric from any of these designers, I am limited in my budget and use mostly what has been given to me). For me personally, I find many of these designers have very busy prints and if I had these to use, I would need a lot of solids to go with these.
Maybe people will buy more from POD sites like Spoonflower. The prices are high, because digital printing isn’t cheap, but there are lots of different designs offered. There isn’t the unwanted fabric flooding the market. The world is full of want-a be designers.
This would be a perfect opportunity for another distribution company to add these well known and highly loved designers to their offering. Though this is a sad ending for Free Spirit via Coats, it’s likely going to bring something better in the months to come. #silverlining
I agree with the comments about Tula / Amy Butler / Kaffe being beautiful but hard to work with showing your own individual creativity. I do buy them all, but as a kit or with a project in mind.
Slightly off topic but I have noticed a big trend in not mixing designers lines in a quilt, ie quilt is all tula and maybe some Kona, scrappy quilts from your stash less likely, but the ranges usually mix and match well, plus they release new ranges so quickly.
Wow. The comments on this thread from quilters who know absolutely nothing about running a brick and mortar quilt shop are staggering. First of all, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit. That’s what business is! The ignorance is mind blowing. We have had a brick and mortar since 2005 and in 13 years, prices have only gone up $2-$3 depending on manufacturer. I’m so over hearing about how fabric prices are awful. It’s just not true. This is simply what happens when you devalue anything in this country by creating a discount culture. There is no value in free and there is definitely no value in creating a discount culture. None. The MSRP is set to ensure a healthy profit margin to cover the expenses of operating a business. Your local brick and mortars have to pay for the space for you to walk in so you can “touch and see the fabric.” They have to pay the employee who helps you and then taxes on top of that payroll. Did you think the credit card processor that runs your endless credit cards is free? Making samples? Did you think your LQS just got them for free??? They then have to pay for new fabrics to keep their inventory fresh…or you people would then gossip about that too! There is also no reason for a store to bring in a 42 sku collection for you to pick one or two bolts while many of the others end up on a sale wall. Those 42 sku collections can cost $2000-$3000! all so that you can come in, stare at it and ask for 1/4yd. As far as these specific designers, I’ll tell you we stopped carrying them quite awhile ago when we kept hearing people talk about how pretty they were but then never knew what to do with the prints. The only way they could sell was by …yep…you guessed it, put it on a sale wall. Eventually stores get tired of investing so much for so little and stop bringing in fabrics that do not sell. Shopping on-line only sites for discounts not only hurts your brick and mortars, but it hurts the sales reps for the company they are selling for, it hurts the designers, it hurts the people who work in the warehouse. All so that you can save a buck or two to then pay shipping! By the time you pay shipping on discounted fabric, you’ve spent the equivalent of regular price fabric at your local LQS. I’ve always said that if you have to buy from an on-line store, make sure they have a brick and mortar you can visit!!!! The brick and mortars that continue to stand have my deepest appreciation. For the last three or five years we’ve been told by many industry talking heads it’s about the “experience” as if the actual business part of the equation doesn’t matter. It amazes me how quilters will spend $700-$900 to attend a “retreat” with some on-line only source…but won’t pay $40-$100 to take a workshop at their local quilt shop. Designers do not teach for free even when they visit local quilt shops. WHY IS ALL OF THIS SO COMPLICATED TO UNDERSTAND??????? I worry for the future of our children and grand children. What kind of world will they spend the majority of their lives in?
Preach it Brian! You’re right. People would say they’re pretty, but didn’t know what to do with them, even when there were samples. Instagram followers and fans do not translate into dollars. I can look at beautiful art all day without feeling the need to purchase it. That’s exactly what is happening here.
I hate to say it, but it’s just fabric, people. Anna Maria Horner is one of my all time favorites, and I’m hoping this doesn’t affect my ability to obtain her most recent collection. But you know what? She’ll go on and work with someone else. All of the big name ones will. Like others, I do lament the scourge of online retailers and their deep discounts, because shopping at a LQS is the best. But I feel that way about all small businesses.
If Free Spirit were manufacturing in the US, I’d be more bummed, but as far as I know they manufacture in Korea. So…oh well. Times change, life goes on. Now go sew something. 🙂
I agree Mel. First world problems totally! I mean geez like we are not going to be able to eat or something. I’m not sure why I keep reading these annoying comments. I’m not sure where we are supposed to buy the fabric if we can’t buy online. Is it a requirement we only buy from our local store where we may not like what they carry? Why is it wrong. Everything is purchased on line these days why should fabric be any different?
Where do you think many customers go for advice and help? They go to bricks & Morter stores, put yourself in the place of a store owner who has people come ask for some assistance with a project where the customer has bought all their products online, this happens often.
Hard to attend a sit and sew at an online store 🙂
I’m a very small online retailer on Etsy, and find it interesting that so many people are surprised by this news. I keep reading over and over in the comments that they have some of the top talent, therefore how can this be happening? As someone who buys fabric from Free Spirit (or used to), I can attest that they had a very large group of designers~30+ on the roster! I personally think they should have been offering lines from only a handful of them. I felt like they continued to print collections from designers that WERE popular/good sellers but had fell out of favor. I don’t think you can continue to print massive amounts of fabric from designers that frankly, no one wants. I felt like this was going on for years! Quality over quantity. I think we will continue to see fabrics from the top talent from this group at other manufacturers. I know this sounds mean, but I don’t think we’ll see many of the others get picked up.
I have some quilt shops in my area but I don’t really go to buy anything there. The cost doesn’t bother me, it’s the customer service and lack of selections. Why would I want to go into a local mom and pop store for bad customer service or basically ignored until I start looking at big ticket items like expensive sewing or quilting machines. That’s the only time they really want to talk to me. I got tired of it and don’t bother anymore. I go online to shop and pay a flat rate to buy my fabrics. I skip the bad to non-existence customer service, pay no tax and saves time plus a small discount on fabrics with the major online stores. I do not care for fabric.com. Tried it once and the mediocre careless packaging was enough to turn me of. In regards to Freespirit Fabrics, I only buy Joel Dewberry fabrics, his fabrics are beautif but the rest are so bold it just wasn’t my style. I feel sad for those who will be displaced.
I had the same experience with LQS until one time I really HAD to go into one for a project. My tattoos and spikey dykey hair must mean I am a thief. I literally got followed around the shop til one of the biddies worked up the nerve to ask me what I was looking for (exact words “What are you looking for?”) I name dropped three big designers, described my very large quilt and said I was looking for a coordinate to replace x bc x was sold out. now I am on a 1st name basis with them and they are pretty great. but it definitely was off putting to be followed around like I was in the wrong shop. Actually, I once had a shop owner inform me the I was in a quilt shop and that the convenience store was the next door down.
OMG that is actually hilarious and good for you for giving them a chance. I got over the tattoos, etc a long time ago. When I quit being shocked my daughters quit getting tattoos….hahahah……
They are awesome now. I actually taught one of them about online destashing.
I don’t see the reason to get all riled up about this. There are many fabric companies that don’t rely on the bottom line of a non fabric corporation with excellent fabric designers.
I agree with Monica. I am an accountant, but in a different industry. I think they over extended themselves with too many designers and too many fabric lines a year. As they said, it was their business model that was at fault. I would think that keeping the top selling designers, but provide more strategic marketing for fewer lines would be the way to go. Offering less expensive solids and other mixers would expand their base. Get the buying frenzy going with knowing your base. As a quilter, we already are paying more for high quality fabric.
I see some very well-marketed lines and quilting notions from other fabric companies. I hope they are doing well.
Not all those designers will be picked up by other companies, so I am crushed for them.
We must continue to support our local stores before we go to huge discount online stores. Although I love supporting your local story by their online presence too.
Tula Pink has a good video on her Facebook page addressing this very issue.
I’m sorry to hear this as these are some of my favorite designers. I, too, am hopeful they will be picked up by other companies; however, I am in agreement with others. As fabric prices have continued to rise, I find I am able to purchase less frequently. So perhaps the answer is either reducing the number of lines produce or being less greedy and lowering your prices. Most crafters, quilters, and seamstresses are not wealthy folks. If you want us to purchase more product more frequently you must meet us part way!
I agree with many of the comments above in regards to prices. I can also say that I will not be purchasing from the parent company in the future. I feel this announcement could have been made a little better. And there are ways to work through poor management rather than shutting down.
I won’t support them by buying their thread or yarn.
I think the wording of the announcement says it all; it was blunt, disrespectful of the talent, dismissive of the employees, and hostile to the consumer. That is what I read in the ‘official’ announcement. Not one ounce of grace. Good riddance to Coats, the cream will rise to the top and will be eagerly picked up by reputable companies.
I don’t know if this video will work. I saw it a while ago and found it fascinating, since it dwells on two very different types of consumers. Most of us fall into one category or the other and it is very hard to wrap our minds around the opposite mindset. https://vimeo.com/68180098
Please don’t equate online selling with the reason why it’s hard to make it in the fabric business.
Of all the online stores 95% also have a brick and mortar (U.L.I. stats from 2014).
It’s the giants like Amzn and Walmart that push prices down and it’s the consumer ultimately that chooses the retail landscape that they want. MAP pricing is un-enforceable and no fabric designer, no matter how big, can dictate their own terms.
Cheap Joannes fabric is artificially cheap and FSF/Westminster is realistically priced.
You can look for more closures, reduced offerings, less availability along with cheap prices; this is what the majority of crafters want. Pretending naiveté or outrage is silly. If you want nice fabric (going forward), the answer is simple. Don’t shop at the big guys. If you want cheap and cheaper pricing then you won’t get good quality – the two do not co-exist.
While I think trying to deal with endless releases of new fabric lines must be chaotic for designers, stores and the industry, I wonder how much the modern quilt movement using only solids and not prints had a small but perhaps important consequence resulting where we are today? I buy both, but mostly solids over the past 2 years as my stash of prints is quite large…