Sunday, May 11, 2014

Competing with Walmart UPDATED

Erin is continuing her adventures in opening Needlepoint Land, a new needlepoint store in Stuart, Florida with a two part essay on her competition, Walmart, and how to compete with a chain that can offer DMC floss at almost wholesale prices.

UPDATE:  Erin pulled a fast one and now has three parts to her essay on competition with the big chains.

However you feel about shopping at the big box craft emporiums, at Walmart, or on eBay, let me assure you that shop owners think you are taking food out of their children's mouths every time you do.  As food for thought, any canvas you buy elsewhere and take to your local shop --assuming you are lucky enough to have one-- to buy threads is giving them only the pitiful profit on threads, not the nice juicy profit on a canvas purchase.  If you ever wondered why a shop is not thrilled to help you select threads for a purchase made elsewhere, that's why.  Not every shop assumes you value their customer service enough that you will buy your next canvas from them which allows them to stay in business a little longer.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright May 10, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.


  1. Jane, Thank you for helping our customers understand how we stay in business.

    1. An educated consumer is a smart buyer. I think most folks have no idea how shops run their businesses (I certainly know little!), and if they know more, they will be more supportive of all you do with their pocketbooks.

  2. I hate to disagree with you after all these years BUT the cost of using decorative threads for a painted canvas almost always cost more than the canvas if the person working in the shop does their job. Also people selling on Ebay and Consignment sites are selling canvases that the designer and shops have already been paid for.

    1. No problem, Dale. I don't mind disagreements. I was just pointing out that the profit margin on threads is a lot less than the profit margin on painted canvases. A shop will have to sell a lot of $6-8 skeins to make what they will make selling one $125 canvas. There are many ways of looking at stash sale sites and eBay, but the shops almost always see them as unfair competition.

  3. Dale and many other people seem to forget that time is money. As a shopowner with expertise my time is worth more than the time of one of my employees. Yet, when a customer comes in with a canvas purchased elsewhere, who does she want to pull the fibers? Not my employee, but me. My fibers cost the same no matter who selects them for purchase. Should I then as a shrewd businesswoman assess a surcharge because I am the one who has selected them? I don't mind providing this service gratis for canvases purchased from me, but do wonder if I should hide when customers come in with canvases purchased on ebay and elsewhere. It is a consideration.

    1. It is a hard question, MA. I think I personally would provide as much customer service as possible in order to entice a customer to buy as much from me as possible. But that might be a losing proposition. We all know folks who no matter how much service you provide, will always make that big purchase elsewhere.

  4. This is a very interesting & enlightening post. I admit to buying more than a few canvases on eBay, the simple reason being that most of them are retired designs & they are more to my taste than most of what is currently available. I was out of needlepoint for 15-20 years, and am sort of playing "catch-up" as far as building a canvas collection. I have little wall space, and pillows don't appeal - I mostly like to stitch ornaments & small, useful items. I've
    never bought a canvas on Etsy, and certainly not at a big arts & crafts chain. (ick!). I am VERY selective in thread choices - what I prefer to use is expensive & available only at a
    LNS. Sure, if I happened to be in WalMart or an A&C & remembered I needed a skein of a basic color floss, I'd probably pick it up, but I'd never make a trip for it. I *always* buy my
    fibers at the LNS if possible. I only shop online if my shop doesn't have something, in an attempt to be respectful of her ordering minimums. Just because I need a skein/card of
    turquoise SuchAndSuch, it doesn't mean that anybody else wants to buy the other 5-11 that
    she has to keep in inventory (& pay tax on until it sells). I know nothing of profit margins, but I DO know that the $60-80 I may spend on a fiber purchase for my eBay canvas is $60-80 more than I would have spent if I entered a shop & found no canvas that tugged at my wallet.
    I also try to be respectful of the shop owner's & employees' time. I'm pretty self-sufficient,
    and only ask for help if I can't find something, or have a question about proper use of a
    new-to-me fiber. I've had the pleasure of visiting MA's shop several times, to browse & pick up fun stuff. I didn't ask for help, but she did offer, after finishing with another customer.