With the economy the way it is right now, it's only understandable that we are looking for supplies that are as affordable as possible. Money is tight, and it's not going as far these days. I shop for my fabrics and quilting supplies at places such as Joann's and Mill End Textiles, and I've no shame in that. However, I do try to get to my local quilt shops at least one a month or so, to buy some fabrics or other notions that I need.
Yes, the fabrics will cost more, on average my local quilt store fabrics are about $10 per yard. However, I can not generally find those fabrics at Joann's or other chain stores. My work as late has really been lending itself to being better done with batiks than commercial fabrics, so when I'm at the quilt stores I focus on batiks.
I definitely remember a day when I would rarely buy from quilt stores, just because of the price. However, I one day came upon a quilt store (that sadly is no longer in business due to the owner retiring to work on books and her art career), that I found myself purchasing fabrics there on a fairly regular basis. I started building a stash that was so different than the fabrics I would find at commercial chain stores. The owner very definitely catered to the fiber artist quilters! I fell in love!
I started seeing quilt stores in a whole new light. These weren't women that were trying to "get rich off" the fabrics we bought. Hardly! Owning a quilt store is a very challenging and risky business. The owners are responsible for deciding what fabrics to order, trying to foresee what customers are going to be attracted to and want to buy. They travel to Quilt Markets (which is NOT a cheap endeaver if you don't live close) in search of the latest fabrics lines, and gadgets and surface design elements that we fiber fiends will be clamoring for after hearing about them. They make attempts at keeping in touch with the likes of Quilting Arts magazine, and try to carry products written about in there.
This is what they are doing for YOU, and for me. They provide me with the tools that I want and/or need for my art. However, their servitude does not end there!
Think about it. They are offering us products, services and classes that we want/need. More importantly however, they are a resource for designers, authors, teachers, designers, etc. Teachers have a place to teach. Authors and designers have places to sell their books and patterns. Dyers have chance to sell their hand dyed or hand painted fabrics via the local quilt stores. They are quite honestly a very much needed cornerstone in our fiber art community.
They are also a birthplace of people we admire - plenty of the fiber artists that we buy books and patterns and fabrics from started out in small local quilt stores. That next author or artist featured in Quilting Arts magazine could be you, thanks to your local quilt store.
These days, I don't think of the fabrics as "expensive" necessarily. Rather than thinking of the fabrics I'm purchasing at the local quilt shop as more expensive, I remind myself that I am actually getting a lot more than just the fabric from my quilt store. I'm making connections, getting inspiration, learning new things, and being subjected to different fabrics and products than I would in a chain store. I am also directly affecting the life of a fellow sister/brother in cloth. They depend on the quilting and fiber community for their living. This is not much different than my aspiring to rely on art lovers to purchase my pieces to help me advance myself in the artistic world.
My local quilt stores enrich my life in ways that I didn't realize until the one nearest and dearest to my heart closed. A new one has opened that is very similar, and though it is further for me than I might like (30+ minutes), I will make a point of going there as often as I can to support the store. I encourage you all to do the same in your local area. Every little bit counts, whether it's a five yard purchase or a fat quarter - keep that in mind!
Have a great day! And to you small local shop owners out there, my deepest thanks for the long hours, worry and hard work you put into enriching the lives of us fabric junkies!
*** And a tip for those want to support their local stores, but save some money: Buy some or most of your top fabrics from the local store, and then buy the backing at a chain store - The back is where you can sink a lot of money, and for the most part it usually doesn't have much of an impact on the over all design of the piece in most cases! ***