Monday, November 11, 2013

Last post in 2014

We are home after three weeks on the road!  More importantly we are unloaded and the truck and trailer are empty.   We have our 4 hour warehouse sale on the 23rd of November and then we are through with shows for the year. I am certainly glad to be home after this last run.  The Suburban is home for the first time in three months and needs an oil change and it has accumulated 381,700 miles on the odometer.  The vehicle is running fine, but is going to the shop this afternoon.  Came through the Missouri Ozark Mountains just fine, we stopped in Ava, MO to teach a class on the way home from Festival.  And we are home until mid-January 2014, reflecting on how we will approach 2014.

This has been a year for change.  The country is in turmoil over health care, this week the stock market has reached new highs, but in my opinion most Americans are worried about their future. Closer to home in the Quilting Industry, there has been an explosion in the number of shows in many markets.  It appears that the explosion will continue at least into next year and the following year.  Many markets that have not had a major show in the past will have several in the future for at least as long as the investment money holds out.  It will be interesting to see which of the show promoters survives this expansion.  I think it is reasonably certain that not all the new and old shows can survive in their present configuration.

Let me talk for a few moments about just one market, Chicago!  If you define a market as a circle with a radius of 300 miles, the maximum distance most people will drive to attend a good show.  Then consider all the shows that fall within that circle.  Quilts Inc. will have a show at Rosemont, Original Craft and Quilt will hold a show in Schaumburg and Tinley Park, AQS will hold shows in Grand Rapids, MI and Des Moines, IA, additionally Paducah, KY falls just outside that radius.  Nancy’s Notions has a show in Madison. WI, MQT has a show in Oconomowoc, WI. MQX is putting a new show in the original home of MQS, Springfield, IL.  Plus within this circle of influence are numerous local guild shows.   So I ask the question is it possible to have too many shows?

In the current economic times, the pie is no larger than it originally was before the proliferation, most people will not or cannot go to all of these shows and spend like they would if they only attended one show in a market.  I think many quilters will go to several of the shows, view the quilts and spend less money with the vendors at each the various shows they attend.  So if the shows can keep attendance up, the biggest loser becomes the vendors because their costs will not decrease.  To accumulate the same amount of revenue in a market their cost will increase as they will have to attend more shows.

I see three losers in the next several years.  The vendors will lose because their costs will increase without an increase in revenue.  Many of the veteran vendors I know are considering discontinuing shows.  Many will be forced to choose which show they will do in a market.  In my opinion that is the prudent choice.   The next loser will be the shows.  The weaker shows will close quickly.  Just this week I received notes that shows in Tacoma, WA and Portland, OR will not be having a show next year.  The final loser will be the folks that attend the shows.  Consolidation of the industry could mean that the biggest, best financed survive and shows will be done, by the folks that are least friendly to vendors and the industry.

I would rather this not sound like sour grapes and I hope it does not.  Quilter’s Rule has made the decision to do one show in a market.  I will determine which show to do based on several factors.  First and foremost, will the promoter allow my company to attend the show?  As a few feel we have nothing to offer the industry and are more trouble than we are worth, and perhaps we are a bit of a problem.  After the obvious and based on historical numbers, which show is apt to give Quilter’s Rule the best return on the dollars spent.  And sometimes the best is not always the most expensive.  Lastly, I think as a vendor in this for the long term I owe a bit of loyalty to the promoters who have helped us along the way and have listened when I had a problem or a concern.

This is an industry best served by cooperation among all members.  That said Quilter’s Rule will start the year at Road to California, Carolyn puts on a great show, one of the best.  Then we will move to Phoenix and do the Rusty Barn show.  Eric and Chris have done a great job of building this market.  Beyond that you will just have to wait while I finish my plans, because they will be different than last year. 

Since we are not doing anymore shows away from home this is my last blog of the year.  I wish you a Happy Holiday Season.  Let all start with a great Thanksgiving and then a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Enjoy your Holiday Season and keep safe until I next see you.

Can’t believe I have written this for two years.