Friday, April 22, 2011

Denyse and JoAnn and Me

File this under "For what it's worth," but I thought it might be a good time to confess that last Monday night, as soon as Ollie got home from work, I asked him to turn around and march himself right back out the door so that we could drive to the nearest JoAnn Fabrics together (it's 40 minutes away) and buy some of the new Denyse Schmidt fabrics.

Now, I know some of you out there might not even know that Denyse has a new line of fabric out that is only available at JoAnn stores (she does).

But I know there are quite a few of you out there who DO know about the new fabrics (it has been all over the internet this past week) and may be a bit confused as to why I would do such a thing as to drive straight out and buy from a chain store when I, myself, own a local fabric store.

And because I feel that everyone is entitled to my opinion (whether they want it or not), I thought I would share my thoughts on the whole situation.

I've seen a few comments on the internet and had a few discussions in the shop where people are concerned that designers like Denyse Schmidt and Liesl Gibson (both of whom are selling their fabrics and patterns at JoAnn stores) may ultimately hurt the smaller local fabric stores.

If you've read my post about "To Mardens or not to Mardens" then you know my feeling on the subject...

In my own weird, warped way, I do NOT believe that this turn of events will harm my business, but in fact, in the long run, it may be a good thing for my business. No need to rehash old posts.

And let us not forget that deep, down, underneath it all, the Alewivesgirl is just someone who loves fabric. If Denyse Schmidt has a new line available anywhere you bet your sweet bippy I'm running straight out to see it and feel it (and in this case, buy it) for myself.

Denyse would never put her stamp upon something that wasn't completely fabulous and the collection at JoAnn's is no exception. I have to point out, the quality of the fabric is lovely and the price was comparable to prices at my own shop.

In fact, I had a great time jumping in the car with Ollie, driving to the big(ish) city, grabbing my shopping cart and piling it up with the bolts from Denyse's new line. It was fun and good for me to be a shopper and not a retailer for a change and bring home some new fabric for the stash.

And okay, yeah, I did feel a little "smirky" when the lady behind the counter admitted she liked the fabrics but had never heard of Denyse Schmidt. My inner fabric snob was all "Mwa ha ha... of COURSE you haven't, you work at JoAnn's!" as I rubbed my hands together.

But I unfortunately have to admit that a lot of my customers and contemporaries have also never heard of Denyse Schmidt. The issue is by no means exclusive to JoAnn fabrics.

And am I super-jealous that I can't carry these fabrics in my shop? Yes! I would have bought this entire collection in a heartbeat (even the pink and yellow colorway that you can only get in Australia!), but them's the breaks and there are puh-lenty of other fish (and fabrics) in the sea.

But, I repeat, I do not think that this cross-marketing with chain stores will have a negative effect on my business. We will always provide different experiences for the customer and just like any other shops in my area, JoAnn's will always keep me on my toes and that is DEFINITELY good for my business.

And speaking of things that are good for my business, Denyse personally has done so much for independently-owned local fabric stores like Alewives Fabrics (remember when she came to visit us and teach her Improvisational Patchwork workshop?).

And I think she had an awful lot to do with a piece of happy news I wanted to share with you all:

I saw just the other day that Free Spirit will be doing a reprint of Flea Market Fancy this Spring.

Exciting, is it not? (I'm super-jazzed: take that, JoAnn's!)

But in all seriousness, chain-stores are not the devil. My goal is not for JoAnn's to fail; my goal is for my business to succeed and to be the best local fabric store it can be. If a new Denyse collection brought me to a JoAnn's store, whose to say it wouldn't bring a JoAnn's shopper to my store in the future?

So if you see me in the shop and you want to jibber-jabber about how cool the new Denyse Schmidt collection is, there's no need to be ashamed (yes, Tammy, I mean you!).

And if you want to call me later and ask me which section of JoAnn's has the Lisette patterns (yes, you again, Tammy) I will happily share that information with you.

Not only am I a rather open-minded and optimistic local fabric shop-owner (if I do say so myself), I am also an equal-opportunity shopper.

Moral of the story:

Denyse Schmidt is a very smart, very talented lady and if she would like to design a line for JoAnn Fabrics, then she absolutely has my support...

AND my 40% off coupon.




Rae said...

this is great, Rhea. Well said!!!

Belinda said...

I whole heartedly agree with Rae!

Jill Dater said...

I've talked to my local scrapbooking store about this and they say that the same thing applies to them. I would never go to Michaels or Joanne's for a crop or advice on how to use my cricut or a shop hop. However, by virtue of size there are sometimes things that I have to buy at a bigger store or the internet. Multiple stores can create a "scrapbooking" or "fabric" area where customers go from store to store.

Denyse said...

Bravo, and thank you Rhea! You are wise and wonderful! I look forward to visiting next spring with my new book in tow.

Stephanie said...

Shoot. I need to go to Joann's today to get fusible fleece and swore to myself to not look at anything else. Now I'll come home with piles of new fabric to add to my hoard.

Your comments are right on target. I go to Joann's for fusible fleece and 1/2 off children's craft tools but local shops for interesting fabric. And for classes and chatting about quilting.

Jill said...

So glad you addressed this Rhea, I don't think it will have a negative impact on the independent stores. Hopefully it will the opposite, sending people to the independents to get more of the good stuff! I've been staying away from JoAnn's all week since I've heard the news, but I'm dying to go check it out.

In other news, I've fallen behind on the T20 quilt class, but I'm hoping to post an update this week!

Unknown said...

i was so happy to read this post. i'll admit, i went to joann's and bought two of the prints (polka dots). i haven't bought anything but a kona solid at joann's in a very long time, but i do love ds's fabrics! i would buy them anywhere ;) i definitely don't think this whole thing would have a negative impact on independent shops like yours - because i could easily spend hundreds (okay, thousands) with you. doing that at joann's, i'd have to buy a heck of a lot of batting and interfacing ;)

much love, and happy sewing!!

Colette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colette said...

Eeek! I can't wait for the reprint of FMF!!!

Tammy said...

LOL!! Rhea, you are too funny, and completely right about my reaction to your question yesterday of whether I bought the new DS fabrics at joanns! Is this a trick question, I wondered? Will Rhea be understanding? For one half second I felt like the kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar. Weird, I know. Maybe it was because this was the first time I had bought fabric from joanns in years, and then to be caught. By. Rhea. Glad to know where you stand, and I think you know by the quilt I brought in recently that Alewives is my favorite store bar none!

Rhea Butler said...

Oh, Tammy... TOO funny!

You must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when I hauled out my stack of Denyse's new fabrics to show you.

It was a good conversation: just the kick-in-the-pants I needed to write this post so gals like you don't feel guilty.

Next time, let's go shopping together!



Atsuko said...

ooo, I've been lusting after FMF; so excited it's getting reprinted!

Susanne said...

Great post. You rock! Off to JoAnns I go for a peek.

Corinnea said...

Kudos for an extremely well written post.

Liesl Gibson said...

Thanks, Rhea. You get it.

Catherine said...

Oh Rhea! I love this! When Tammy read it to me, I just cracked up! Beyond the humor of it all, I love your attitude... what a joy it would be if every business owner looked at things the way you do! Just one more reason why we'll keep making the sweet drive up to see all of you!