What is it really like to own a brick-and-mortar quilt shop today? Tune in to this lively discussion about the state of the quilting industry in 2017 from the perspective of three longtime quilt shop owners to find out. I recorded this episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast at Quilt Market in Houston last week. My guests include Janet Lutz, Karen Montgomery, and Kris Thurgood.

Janet Lutz is the owner of Calico Gals, a quilt shop located in Syracuse, NY. Janet is also the founder of Row by Row Experience, a program which reaches over 3,000 quilt shops worldwide.

Karen Montgomery has owned The Quilt Company, a full service, brick and mortar quilt shop just outside Pittsburgh, PA, for 25 years.  Industry insiders might know Karen from her Savvy Buying column published in FabShop News.  Most recently Karen has joined with Janet to create Sewposium a popular creative business retreat for shop owners.

Kris Thurgood is the owner of My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe located in Logan, Utah. Two years ago she organized My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe as a franchise and is now opening a 2nd location in Midway, Utah. Kris, along with her identical twin sister Kim, have been featured on national television shows including The Rachael Ray Show and The Nate Berkus Show. They co-hosted a weekly craft and sewing webshow called, The DIY Dish for several years as well.

Together we discussed a wide range of topics including:

  • What makes some quilt shops succeed while others fail
  • The ups and downs of relationships with fabric manufacturers
  • Competition from Massdrop, Craftsy, and Fabric.com, plus Etsy shops and Facebook groups that sell fabric
  • Quilt Market and how it’s changed over time (Karen has been to over 50 Quilt Markets), how much it costs a shop to attend and whether it’s worthwhile
  • Ecommerce
  • Digital fabric printing and how it might affect the industry in the future
  • What would happen if fabric companies began selling direct to consumer
  • Adding yarn to the mix
  • The complexities and rewards of selling sewing machines

I learned a tremendous amount from talking with these three women and I’m really hoping you’ll find the conversation equally interesting. Running a brick-and-mortar quilt shop requires a lot of hard work and they are doing it and succeeding.

And, of course, I ask Janet, Karen, and Kris to recommend great stuff they’re enjoying right now.

Janet recommends:

Karen recommends:

  • machine embroidery

Kris recommends:

I want to thank Quilts, Inc. for allowing me to record this episode at Quilt Market, with a special thank you to Director of Publications and Public Information, Bob Ruggiero, who reserved the room and had it set up especially for us.

If you’re ever in Syracuse, Pittsburgh, or Logan I recommend dropping to visit these quilt shops.


Today’s episode is sponsored by Handmade Rebellion. Handmade Rebellion offers a wide variety of creative shirts, hoodies, pins, and other swag for fiber artists of all shapes, ages, and sizes. Let the world know that you are part of the maker movement with style! Remember to use coupon code WHILESHENAPS on handmaderebellion.com to save 15% off your next order, with free domestic shipping over $35. Join the rebellion!


You can listen to this episode by clicking on the green arrow below, or subscribe to the Craft Industry Alliance podcast in iTunes or on Stitcher so you never miss an episode. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it! Thank you so much.





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