With our new partnership program, Bluprint Connect, you can purchase Bluprint classes through your local independent brick and mortar retailer and directly support them in doing so. Plus, you’ll get a coupon back to that shop to get your class supplies, so it’s a win-win for all! Check with your favorite quilt or yarn shop to see if they’re a Bluprint Connect partner yet.
Through Bluprint Connect we’ve been privileged to meet a number of fascinating independent shops. We’re excited to bring you a new bi-weekly series (published every other Wednesday) that features a behind-the-scenes peek at inspirational crafting retailers nationwide. This week we were lucky to have the chance to talk with Quilting on the Square owners Mark and Mary Pfeiler, about what makes their Holton, Kansas-based shop special, how they got their start in April of 2005, and where they see things going.What inspired you to open your own quilting shop in Kansas?
Owning a shop on the town square of Holton, Kansas was something that we’ve always wanted to do. Holton is a quaint community located west of Kansas City and north of Topeka.
What was the biggest challenge to getting started?
Our biggest challenge in getting started was two-fold – finding the right location and deciding which fabrics to carry. We quickly outgrew our original location and moved into a much larger space that is a perfect fit for us.
What makes your shop unique?
The building we are currently housed in a building that is over 100 years old. It has character, charm, and fantastic architectural details. The building features alone are simply inspiring. On top of that, we also have a unique selection of fabrics. We offer numerous novelty prints that aren’t available in many shops and have some pretty unique and interesting activities. We offer a free Tips ‘n Techniques session on the fourth Saturday of every month, where we try to help bring our customers quilting skills to another level.
How would you describe the style of fabrics and projects in your shop?
We offer many block of the month programs, most of which are exclusive designs by us. This year we partnered with Mickey Depre (author of Pieced Hexies, A New Traditional in English Paper Piecing) and jointly developed a totally different block of the month called Moxie Girl. Moxie combines traditional piecing and applique with foundation paper piecing and English paper piecing. We are offering this block of the month in 3 colorways.
We are also running a “Name That Technique” contest on our website to coin a name for the combined foundation/English paper piecing technique. A free pattern utilizing this technique will be provided to all that enter the contest.
On top of that we are a Judy Niemeyer certified shop. We carry a full line of Judy’s patterns and kits, including those patterns only available through her certified shops.
Also available on our website is a free Block of the Month program called the Compass Collection. This consists of 12 foundation paper pieced compass blocks to assist our customers who want to try foundation paper piecing but don’t want to invest in a big project. This BOM is designed to use up bits and pieces of scrap fabric.
What have you learned about your customers that you didn’t expect?
Quilters are willing to try anything – at least once! They love new techniques and new styles of quilts. We like to think we are in the business of selling inspiration, self confidence, and creativity.
How did you first hear about Bluprint Connect?
We first learned of Bluprint Connect at Fall Market. We were familiar with Bluprint prior to that though. We sell some of our patterns (Banner Creek Designs) on the Bluprint website. Our most popular pattern has been the Good Luck Star which is actually our store logo! This is a foundation paper pieced pattern.
When you joined Bluprint Connect how were you hoping it would help you?
When we first joined Bluprint Connect we thought it would help us provide a wide variety of classes to our customers. Classes that would fit into our customers’ schedules.
How is Bluprint Connect working for you?
It’s been great. It’s easy to use. We’re going to spotlight specific classes going forward.
What do your customers like about the program?
Our customers really like it. They can order a class and watch it any time (even in their jammies). Not only that, they can go back and watch parts that may be difficult or confusing over and over again until they “get it”. Overall they love it. We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback.
Do you have any tips for other retailers on how to get the momost out of their Bluprint Connect sales?
Use the Bluprint promotional materials, have the link on your homepage and promote it on Facebook. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but the benefit to both the shop and the customer is significant.
What’s the biggest challenge you face today?
The biggest challenge that we face today is keeping up with the changing demographics of our customers and the way people shop today. Online shopping has become huge. The internet will be key to staying connected with our customers, both near and far. We are becoming very aware of our changing world. Just last week we mailed orders not just within the continental United States, but also to Tasmania, New South Wales, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Our world is becoming much smaller.
Will you be doing anything new in your shop this year?
We have big plans for this year! Several won’t be announced until later in the year, but first up is the introduction of our very own Tumbler Tool. It’s a ruler for cutting strips of fabric into tumblers, perfect for use in tumbler quilts. With the tool, you can create multiple sizes of tumblers, depending on the width of your fabric strip. It’s very versatile as you can make scrappy quilts or quilts with more of a color theme to them. With our tool, one of our beginning quilters was able to put a throw size quilt top together in a matter of two sittings. There is nothing like it on the market today. Needless to say we are very excited about this launch.
Any advice for aspiring or current quilters?
Just do it. If you have an idea, try it. There are no rules. If it doesn’t work out, try something else. The best new ideas and designs often times come from mistakes.
Tell us what you love about Quilting on the Square!