Quilt Market, the big quilting trade show held in Houston last month, is where many quilt shop owners buy their fabrics. Because (I believe) all of the major fabric companies were vendors at Quilt Market, it is one-stop shopping for seeing new fabric lines and making purchases. Throughout the show floor, I saw innovative booths with long rows of tables, where buyers intently looked at the new fabric. Quite honestly, the whole scenario was very overwhelming and I was glad not to be charged with buying any fabric for anybody.
The experience did, however, make me curious as to how fabric is selected. Regina Storms, a salesperson with Marcus Fabrics, was kind enough to explain the process to me: A few weeks before Quilt Market, Marcus Fabrics sends an email blast to their customers. This email describes the new collections that will be available at Quilt Market, and invites them to make an appointment. Once a customer arrives at the booth, they sit down in front of a sales associate and look at large fabric swatches that are glued onto sheets of cardboard. Each sheet of cardboard shows all (or part) of a coordinating line. It is interesting that these “swatches” may fabric, if the sample fabric has arrived in time. Otherwise they are printed images of the fabric (ie paper). The customer then chooses the fabrics that are appropriate for their store.
I did talk to several quilt shop owners. Some of them purchased all of their fabric at Quilt Market. Others purchased none, but viewed it as a time to see the new collections and gather information. They then purchased fabric at a later date, from their sales rep, at their store.