Testing 1, 2, 3…

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was a teacher.  I taught physics and chemistry.  Part of teaching is that you have to give tests.  Tests were never my favorite thing to plan for, much less grade if I had $5.00 for every weekend I lost grading tests, I could take one of those fancy-shmancy quilting cruises. However I did do two things that made them bearable for me and my students well, most of my students, anyway.  I told my students that if they had kept up in class, did their homework, paid attention, and took decent notes, they should easily be able to make a C on the test.  The second thing I did was rename tests.  The word “test” has such a negative connotation and it’s a four-letter word.  The word “quiz” is no better.

So, I changed the name of quiz to “party.”  “We’re having a formula party on Friday” sounds so much better than “We’re having a quiz on all the formulas attributed to motion and vectors.”

And test became “Celebrations of Knowledge.”  So much better.

Therefore, in light of last week’s blog and the fact I’m still pretty upset and bummed about my LQS closing, I’m giving you a true/false “Celebration of Quilt Knowledge.”  If you’ve read my blogs, been a quilter for any length of time, you should do just fine.  Answers are at the bottom.

True or False – Quilt store owners are rolling around in beds of money and laughing all the way to the bank because they gouge customers.

True or False – Quilt stores support local events, charities, and quilters in need.

True or False – Nationally known quilt teachers charge less than $500 per day.  If the quilt shop is charging you more than $40 for a session with these teachers, it’s because they’re trying to make major bucks.

True or False – Nationally known quilt teaches are happy sleeping on the pull-out couch in your den that smells like a wet dog.

True or False – The quilt store usually spends around $100 a day to feed the nationally known teacher.

True or False – If the quilt store signs a contract with the nationally known teacher, it’s up to the teacher to fund his or her own transportation to the city.  Once here, the store takes care of a rental vehicle or loans her a car and pays for gas.

True or False – The quilt store pays its employees minimum wage to help with this event.

Okay, begin. And while you’re pondering the above questions, let me tell you, while I love the holidays, I will be glad when they’re over.  I’m no Grinch, but it seems no matter how well I plan, I’m always behind schedule for Christmas.  I have had my shopping done since October, but I don’t think I will ever get through wrapping or bagging the presents.

On top of everything else,  I did have to do some unrelated-to-Christmas shopping today.  Major undertakings have been going on at Casa de Fields – we’ve had siding put on the house and in this process, the little hook on the side of my entry way where I hung our wreath was removed.  So I had to make a trip to my local Walmart to pick up one of those hooks you put on your door top to hang your wreath on.

That was my first mistake.  It’s 17 days until Christmas and I’m at Walmart along with a kabillion other people and only five registers open.

Along with the hook, I had to buy some personal items undies and socks and a few other non-Christmasy things we needed.  I’m well over 50 at this point, but I was really hoping for a female check-out person.  I’m kind of particular about who sees my unmentionables.

No luck.

That was my second mistake.

A young man with various piercings and a nametag that read “Cari’gon” (yup, his name had an apostrophe) had the pleasure of checking me and my items out.  And may I mention at this point, he had a man-bun.

A man-bun.  Seriously.  Cari’gon and his man-bun deserved the pleasure of checking me and my personal items out.  Who in God’s name decided it was perfectly fine and dandy for guys to wear their hair in a bun?  It’s freakin’ ridiculous….

Pencils down.  Now for the answers.   You may grade your own tests.

  1. False – Quilt store owners are lucky if they break even.  And you may wince at the cost of a yard of fabric, but ponder this a minute – the average wholesale cost of a bolt of good flannel is around $13.00.  Cotton fabric isn’t a whole lot better.  Remember the quilt store owner has to pay for the bolt of fabric, plus shipping, plus figure a profit that will cover her general expenses, allow her to reorder fabric, and put a little profit aside for herself.
  2. True – Most quilt store owners are generous to a fault.
  3. False – Most nationally known teachers charge between $500 — $1,000 or more per day. It’s customary.  And why not?  They’re experts in their field and have spent years fine-tuning their art as well as spent serious time preparing for the class.
  4. False – I mean, really? Cousin Ed might be perfectly happy sleeping on your pull-out that smells like a wet dog, but a nationally known quilting teacher is not family.  He or she is a professional that should be treated that way and that means a nice, safe hotel with at least basic amenities like wifi, coffee pot in the room, and a comfy bed.
  5. True—I know food costs can vary, but the teacher should be taken out to restaurants where there is a variety of food to choose from. Care should be taken to find out if the teacher is vegetarian, vegan, or has food allergies.  This means that the Golden Arches and Taco-de-Bell are not on the list.
  6. False – When a quilt store books a teacher, it’s responsible for the plane ticket and car rental.
  7. False — At this point in the store’s planning session for the event, employees may be up to overtime in preparation.  And the store may have to hire additional employees to help cover this event due to the fact that there will be more to it than just checking out purchases.  Employees may have to help students who are having trouble with their machines or who don’t understand a basic concept.  A hundred things can go wrong in a class room during the session and the employees will have to handle it.  At this point, the store is paying the employees who can handle this event between $10 and $12 per hour per day.

The reason I’m hitting hard on the nationally-known teachers issue is due to some of the rumblings I heard after my last blog.

“I don’t understand why that shop charges $250 for a session with __________ (insert a nationally known teacher’s name here).  That teacher can’t be charging that much.  That quilt shop is making bank.”

Seriously.  You’re going to look me in the eye and tell me that.

First, let’s do a little more quilt shop math.  Let’s say that teacher is at a shop for a two-day event.  The general cost involved in that  could cost over $5,000 easily.  Let’s say there are 20 students signed up for the event.  So $5,000 divided by 20 equals $250.00.

That quilt shop owner is not “making bank.”  She’s breaking even at best.  She’s doing it to bring attention to her shop so that she may get return customers.  And in return, you’re getting a great sewing session with someone who really knows their quilting stuff.  You can sleep in your bed, use your machine, be fed lunch, snacks, coffee/water/tea, and have a short commute.  Not bad for $250.00

And while we’re here, let’s discuss another issue.  It’s perfectly fine if the quilt store owner does “make bank.” Sure, they probably own a quilt shop because they love fabric and quilters and quilts, but they have a shop as a businessAnd you have a business to make a profit so you can make a living.

I hash back over this because one of the ways some local quilt shops (including one in my county) advertise their shop is to have a nationally known teacher in for sessions.  It’s tricky because you don’t know if you will break even, but you have to try all kinds of things to get customers into your shop.  And this is one way.  But it galls me that some folks who have this wonderful opportunity to take a class with a nationally known teacher – a once in a lifetime event – will nickel and dime it to death.

Trust me.  If quilt shops “made bank” there would be more of them.  I’ve said it so many times before and I will say it again right now:  Support your local quilt shop.  It’s a precious place with precious people.

I have one more blog about this subject.  Then I promise I will get off my soap box.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


2 replies on “Testing 1, 2, 3…”

Many think if you own your own business, you are really rolling in dough….that may be true if you own a bakery, they have no idea what it takes to open the door and start a business. Overhead, what’s that? Make a profit? are you kidding? It’s a business, not a charity.

It was realizing how much time, money, effort and soul that is needed to break even in any small business that kept me from ever seriously consider opening one. That and the fact that I probably wouldn’t have had enough time to quilt for myself.

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