Guest Blog, quilt, Quilt Market, quilt shows, quilting

Guest Blog – Bill Locke on the Importance of Quilt Market

Please welcome today’s guest blogger Bill Locke of Studio Bill Locke, Montreal Canada. Bill designs, and makes quilts, has an active quilt on-line quilt shop, and an astute business sense. I stopped to look at his booth, taking a moment to realize it’s his. After a quick hug we started talking. Bill shares our conversation below. 

I had a wonderful time in Houston – and as I shared with you in my booth at Market,Houston was my absolute best market ever in every sense.

In the first 3 hours of market I was approached and offered more opportunities than in any other full market day…it was just absolutely amazing…Within the first hour of market opening I had already signed a contract with a magazine……and yes…you guessed it – these are opportunities that would not come my way if I were not at market.   These were visits to the booth; seeing my designs in person; being presented at Market, etc.

During regular Studio time – there’s always the general business of wholesale/retail that takes place at the Studio and I’m blessed to be as busy as I am on a regular basis with the every day things; but for the design  part of my business, I am a firm believer that if I want to stand out in our creative market, then I need to be sure that I bite that bullet and take my designs and myself to market.

I heard several people say that they don’t go to market because they barely make enough at the market to cover their costs?    

As a Canadian, I am not allowed to sell at market – my orders can only be finalized once I am back on Canadian soil…so no matter what I spend to be at market,there are no sales and income that follow me back from the U.S.  Once I return from market, then I need to get my work fingers going – and do the follow-ups, get the patterns to distributors; make sure I follow up on the offers and opportunities that were discussed with industry leaders at market,etc.  

That being said, I never regret investing in being at market; because I feel that it is something that I truly need to do.

One thing that I have learned is that taking market breaks is not a good thing.   I have done markets, skipped, then went back…these breaks are not great…and I feel that for myself, I need to consider not taking those break and making market a continuous affair.   Our customers need to see us regularly;remember, market is the only time that most of them will have personal contact with us….so the only way to build those relationships is at market.

For Houston this Fall, I decided to take it up a notch and move out of the half-booth that I would normally rent and take a regular size single booth and add a corner……yep….that certainly drove up the cost…but it was the best thing I’ve ever done at market.    The exposure in that corner/open booth was just unbelievable; and you are right out there in the focus of all who are passing by.   

This market I also participated in more events…extra schoolhouse, demo alley….these were great opportunities again to me to market my brand and get more people and invite them to my booth and to other booths where my designs were displayed.

One of the things that I wanted to do at this market is to let opportunity fall where it may -and if it were to find me – I wanted it to be that way – rather than my searching it out.  All of the contacts, discussions, orders, offers that came my way at market came though this method……again, these would not have happened had I not been at market.

We also have to realistic and understand that everything that happens at market will not develop into something major – some of the opportunities need to be thought out and discussed further from home base – we need to decipher where avenue we want to go, which opportunities we want to pursue and those that we feel will not be to our best interest; or not at this moment perhaps.

Another thing that we need to realize that at market, we are not just selling a commodity; we are marketing the whole package…that package includes me as well as my designs.  

Meanwhile,one of the most important things to remember at market….although market is one of those times when I feel I work like crazy and come back home exhausted,it is my quilting vacation – it’s the highlight of my year to be able to get out and about and socialize with friends in the industry that we normally would not see if it weren’t for market.   The sharing and learning from each other’s experiences. There is nothing that can compare to that.   Some of my best times at market has been laughs and conversations over dinner aftermarket.  

Can you tell…I love market!!! 🙂    I truly do.

Happy Stitching it is!!!!


All photos courtesy of Bill Locke

Thank you Bill. I appreciate the time t

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