Most people who buy fabric online purchase it through one of the established shops like Pink Castle, Hawthorne Threads, or Fat Quarter Shop. There’s a segment of the fabric buying public, though that purchases fabric through private Facebook groups. As these groups grow in size and popularity, their impact on the more mainstream stores increases.
I wanted to investigate how the Facebook fabric groups work as businesses, find out why customers are shopping this way, and then analyze the possible long-term impact they might have on the online sewing community.
From what I can tell there are two main types of fabric that are currently being sold through private Facebook groups. The first is premier quilting cottons from the big name manufacturers. The second is custom knits.
Breanne Crawford has a very large and active private Facebook fabric group called Mama Made and Beautiful where she sells premier quilting cottons from every major fabric company at deep discounts.
“It’s actually an accident that it came to be,” Breanne explains. “I started off selling handmade clothes and started Mama Made and Beautiful just to sell off some extras. It became really popular really quick and sort of took on a life of its own.”
Right now Mama Made and Beautiful has 5,950 members and Breanne says her fabric shop is a business like any other. She’s hired an employee to help her with cutting and shipping and this fall she traveled to Quilt Market to order new fabrics for her shop.
The prices at Mama Made and Beautiful are lower across the board than a typical online fabric shop. A yard of Gleeful by Sew Caroline for Art Gallery fabrics which sells for $10.75 from Fat Quarter Shop is just $8.75 at Mama Made and Beautiful. Breanne takes pre-orders for much of her fabric, selling off the bolt in advance of buying it. When she uploads new fabrics for pre-order they sell out fast.
The discount prices Breanne and other Facebook group owners offer can rub the owners of online quilt shops the wrong way. Quilt shop owners tend to feel that manufacturers should not sell to shops that are organized as “coops.” (Coops are defined as groups of customers that get together and order bulk fabric at wholesale prices, then divvy it up.) Manufacturers claim to agree, saying that if they find out that a shop is a coop they won’t sell to them.
For the most part, though, fabric isn’t sold directly by the manufacturers. Instead it’s sold through independent sales companies working as middlemen between manufacturers and retailers. The salesmen, known as fabric reps, work on commission and often have no problem selling fabric to the owners of Facebook groups.
Breanne doesn’t consider her business to be a coop anyway. “The fabric business is a very tough one. I definitely started out selling more as a ‘co-op’ mode but very quickly got into selling as a business” meaning that she does mark up her fabric.
Is she marking it up enough? Is Breanne making a profit at $8.75 per yard? A bolt of fabric costs approximately $82.50 plus $4 freight. Most bolts have about 15 yards of fabric. Selling it off at $8.75 per yard means just a $44.75 profit per bolt and she has to sell the whole bolt in order to make that. Although the margin is slim, the customer base is very devoted and Breanne says the business is doing well.
Breanne just posted this new Michael Miller collection last night for $8.75/yard.
Carmen Statham is one of Breanne’s customers. About Mama Made and Beautiful she says, “Wonderful selection, great prices you can’t beat, quality fabrics, and amazing customer service. I feel like this group is family.”
Although Breanne’s low prices bother many fabric retailers, one online fabric shop owner told me that she feels powerless to do much about it. “Aside from having a lot of shop owners sending letters threatening to pull orders if [fabric sales reps] don’t stop accounts like this, which means we may have no place to order from if we had to make good on that promise, I’m not sure what to do to stop them.”
I asked Breanne if the fabric manufacturers ever question her when she places orders because she is selling through Facebook and not her own website. “I’ve had some issues with the manufacturers. Moda was one of the more hesitant ones for sure. I try to explain to them why I sell the way I do. I think the power of Facebook is incredible. When I pop up in someone’s news feed with a hot new fabric that they want, they can’t help but order. They don’t have to go to another website to see what I’ve got coming in. I’m the same way with fabrics I buy on Facebook. When it pops up in my newsfeed, it’s so much harder to resist.”
There’s also a thriving economy for custom knits on Facebook. Originating as part of the cloth diaper making community, these are businesses that take Christmas loans, order custom designed knit fabrics and then sell the yardage within private Facebook groups. These groups have now expanded beyond cloth diapers and are selling knit fabrics to all sorts of customers.
Jeni Lynn is the administrator for the custom knits Facebook group, KNITorious, which currently has 4,374 members. She says that the custom knit groups are filling a hole in the fabric market as it currently stands. “The selection of knit fabrics in mainstream fabric stores is lacking significantly,” Jeni explains. “There was a need for cute, unique prints on a quality fabric, and that’s where these custom printing groups came to be. Most of the custom groups, including KNITorious, print on cotton/lycra fabric. It’s very soft and super stretchy, making it ideal to work with to create a variety of items. Another appealing factor to custom groups is the exclusivity. Only a limited number of yardage is printed, so not everyone out there will have it.”
Like the quilting cotton groups, the custom knit groups also sell via pre-order. If enough pre-orders come in, the group owner orders that print to be produced. “All of our pre-orders run $18.50-$19 per yard,” Jeni says. “When the pre-order is closed, our group owner, Sarah, places the order with her supplier.” The fabric comes in about four weeks later and is cut and shipped to customers.
A selection of custom knits offered by KNITorious.
Group owners are also often the designers of the fabrics. “Some groups use clipart and put it into their own ‘design’, while others use designers to draw truly one-of-a-kind prints,” Jeni says. “KNITorious has used both, but has been using more of the designers for truly custom prints.”
Many groups buy illustrations from Shutterstock. Designer Maaike Boot’s images are particularly popular (Maaike sells her designs as custom fabric on Spoonflower where the prices are about $5 more per yard for a knit base cloth).
Among custom knit Facebook group owners printers are a carefully guarded secret, although here are a few possibilities, and here, and here, plus Print Knits Studio in L.A.
New private Facebook groups for custom knits are popping up frequently. To get a sense of all of them join the Custom and Knit Fabric Review and Discussion group, where 1,769 groups leaders and customers discuss all of the different groups.
Jeni summed up well why private Facebook groups are so effective for selling fabic. “I believe that Facebook is the most popular medium for these groups because it’s so easy and everyone is already there. Facebook makes it easy to connect, communicate, market, etc. and everyone is already comfortable with it.”
What does the presence of these groups mean for the online sewing community?
First, they underline the marketing potential of private Facebook groups. While overall Facebook’s algorithms have made marketing there much less effective the Facebook “Groups” app isn’t affected by the algorithm so we still see every post from the groups we’ve joined. The specialness of an exclusive community makes groups a powerful marketing space.
Second, Facebook provides a free platform from which these small fabric shops can operate. Without the cost of site hosting, ecommerce set-up, or advertising, entrepreneurs like Breanne and Jeni can pre-sell yardage at a discount to a devoted community. The profit margin is tight, though, especially for premier quilting cottons. If Breanne were to grow beyond Facebook that discount would likely be unsustainable.
Third, the market is speaking loud and clear about the desire for a greater assortment of knits in different prints, both youthful and sophisticated.
And finally, please note that most online fabric retailers are mom-and-pop shops themselves. Although the fabric they sell is a few dollars more expensive than what you can find in a Facebook group, these retailers also have a very narrow margin and they support the online sewing community more broadly by hosting and sponsoring events, sharing free patterns and tutorials, and working collaboratively with the designers who create their fabrics.
Whoa, I had no idea! Very interesting. Thanks for the article!
Leah Kabaker says
I find it fascinating how people are adapting quickly to new ways of selling and marketing.
Teresa Ascone says
Another informative post, thank you! I have been uploading designs to Spoonflower and wondering the best ways to market custom fabric such as the knits you mention. I couldn’t figure out how to join the group, Custom Knit and Fabric Discussion Group you listed – I clicked on the link and saw that it is closed, and then I clicked on the admins and didn’t know how, from there, to request admission.
I will keep exploring the links you list and find out more.
Again, thank you.
You should be able to click a “join” button near the header of a closed group, and the admins will decide if you can join.
Teresa Ascone says
Yep! Thanks, Meagan.
Teresa Ascone says
Really interesting look at something I had no idea existed. As someone who is decidedly “anti-Facebook” (I cancelled my account three or so years ago), this concept of buying and selling kind of rubbed me the wrong way–it kind of reminds me of a high school clique. That being said, it’s totally my choice not to be on Facebook and there are plenty of ways for me to buy fabric.
As I’ve been a member of health/food buying co-ops in the past, I don’t know why this concept should seem any different to me just because it’s fabric instead of food. I since I’m interested in seeing better/fairer business/pricing practices within the sewing/crafting/fabric communities, the method you investigate here doesn’t seem like it does anything to encourage that.
All of that being said, it is fascinating to watch entrepreneurs develop creative new business practices and I appreciate you sharing a balanced look at this topic. I won’t be participating in anything like this anytime soon, but I’ll be mulling this over for awhile I’m sure. Thanks!
I’m also in the mulling phase.
kelly o! says
While I believe most of the Facebook/Yahoo groups are honest, there have been at least a few bad apples, and at least one has gone on to be a legitimate shop. I don’t know the details, because I wasn’t directly involved, thankfully.
We all want good deals on fabric, but skirting the rules makes me sad. It also makes me less likely to buy from those sellers.
This sounds like sour grapes (it’s not) or that I’m on a high horse (I’m not). Just seeing it from a different POV.
Yes, you’re right. In my research (ie. lurking in dozens of groups for several months) I saw a few instances of deals gone bad on both ends (the seller not delivering or the buyer not paying). There’s also quite a bit of accusing other people of copying designs (in the custom knit groups) and moderators banning the accused from the groups. It can get rather dramatic.
Honestly, this is what keeps me from trying these things – the drama. I like to know that when I place an order it’s 99.9% assured that I’ll receive it! (That and I can’t stand Facebook)
Really interesting article, Abby, I’ve seen a similar co-op on flickr but haven’t heard of it outside that platform before.
Thank you for sharing this Abby. I had no idea this existed
It’s interesting. Throughout the day today here on my blog and on Instagram I’ve been hearing similar comments from people who really didn’t realize that there were private Facebook groups selling fabric. It’s almost like an economy underneath the standard one.
This was an interesting post! I had joined a Facebook group for custom knit fabrics at one point. After I read their terms of service however, I left the group pretty quickly. Not only was the fabric $20/yard, there were several disclaimers as to the quality of the fabric itself and the printing quality, and no returns were accepted. If I’m going to pay that much for fabric, I at least want the option to send it back if it’s flawed. I understand that the owners run on a tight profit margin and probably can’t afford to give out refunds, but it wasn’t a risk I was willing to take.
Quality is a big issue. It seems that in most print runs there are sections of the fabric that don’t print correctly. I’m not sure there are strike-offs at all. I think the order is placed and the fabric comes is. I wonder what the original cost per yard is approximately? Is it $8? $12? $15? We could inquire with some of the printers and find out. I’m curious what the margin is.
I know I’ve seen strike-offs for sale, as well as flawed pieces at less expensive prices FWIW. So at least someone is doing quality control (but I don’t follow closely enough to say which group).
The strike-offs are usually sent to boutique sewers who can generate buzz for a print by showing it sewn into an object.
Joyful Tie Dyes says
Most of the well known groups do get strikeoffs.
Very interesting – as an online shop owner myself I can attest to the fact that this is not a long-term strategy for success. But if they can find their niche for awhile, more power to them 🙂 The manufacturers and sales reps are for sure tightening up their qualifications for buyers. While they will grandfather in older accounts, and some mfgs. WILL sell to anyone, most newer customers are required to have an independent website to prevent this sort of thing from happening.
I’ve also noticed some shop owners responding by shifting their offerings to fabrics that aren’t carried by the “virtual big box” fabric discounters.
I think you’re right, but it’s very easy to register a .com and not really use it. It costs just a few dollars per year.
Are you referring to Fabric.com? So are the Facebook-based shops offering fabrics you can’t get there? Or are the indie-owned online fabric shops doing that? And what sort of items?
I’m glad you brought up fabric.com. Maybe it’s not germane to the topic because it’s an independent website and not launched from a social media site plus it carries stock rather than waiting for a pre-order. But it has a price point similar to Mama Made.
Fom an industry perspective, is the analytical dynamic similar to IQS vs. Joann? Because from a consumer perspective, I shop deliberately when deciding between bricks and mortar small businesses over walmart and target but don’t find much value added from the stores you mentioned and fabric.com. I don’t use any of those extra services you mentioned but I do value the convenience of being able to run out and pick up craft supplies that on the same day. So, even when they describe themlves as mom and pop shops and try to protess folks with different online business models, I just don’t see that much difference.
The part that isn’t mentioned in this blog is that these groups, at least the good ones, DO have online shops where they sell the REMAINDER of thr pre-ordered bolts at regular retail pricing.
I bought some knit fabric on a FB group for $15/yard (that’s a lot!), and there were problems with the printer (who was in China apparently), and they had to switch printers because they didn’t like the strike-offs, and it took about 9′ months for me to get the fabric. Some people turn around and sell it on Facebook, or sell it in buy/sell/trade groups for that particular “company” of knit fabrics, where fabric that’s no longer being printed can go for $30-$45/yard. It’s crazy. And yes, I have heard of one group where the owner was not honest, so do your homework before joining! I’m not sure I’ll be ordering again- I was appalled at the price and how long it took! Also, impulse buying is not good for my budget and this kind of business model really encourages impulse buying!
There’s a lot going on within these groups. Sometimes it’s dishonesty, sometimes technical difficulties cause everyone’s invoices to be lost, sometimes the fabric is printed badly, sometimes people accuse one another of copying (even if it’s because they’ve used the same clipart from Shutterstock).
You’ve captured the “what” really well here – I’m thinking (no surprise to you) a lot about the why. It’s not all financial, since there’s plenty of room in the custom knits for mark-ups (the re-sale market shows that), although the pre-sale groups are running on low mark-up (although there’s benefit for shops to discount pre-sales where possible, quilthome.com does this). I think there’s a strong correlation here with shop at home companies (ie Tupperware), which are also using Facebook to a high degree now, in the social aspect of Facebook shopping. And that leads me to many thoughts on feminism, so I’ll stop for now.
Yes! That’s such an excellent point. There is a huge social aspect to shopping within a Facebook group. I think if I had asked about this from participants I would have definitely heard that it was important to them to feel part of the group and to shop together.
To me, this is something that mainstream fabric shops can work to create as well. Social shopping is very effective.
I think that’s why fabric subscriptions are called “clubs” too – so members can feel like they’re part of something bigger or exclusive. Smart retailers should be using hashtags and encouraging unboxing photos/videos, too, though.
MELANIE MCNEIL says
Ah, this is very interesting to me. Since I design my own quilts, I have no interest in group-quilting or shopping. In fact I have little interest in fabric designer names, since I buy what works, regardless of designer. So the social and trend aspects wouldn’t even occur to me. Also mjb’s comment about wanting to be “part of something bigger or exclusive.” BIGGER and EXCLUSIVE, at the same time. I know what she means, but it rings pretty funny to me.
Laura @ Prairie Sewn Studios says
This is so interesting; I’d never even heard of this before. I tend to do almost ALL of my fabric shopping in person (I just like to touch all the pretties!), so I haven’t had much of an occasion at all to explore online options of any kind.
Shelly Stokes says
Thanks for a great article, Abby. The real take-away for me is that you can use a FB group to get messages out to your members without FB deciding what your followers will or will not see. I think everyone with a business can make use of this idea!
Not being on Facebook (can’t stand the thing!) I had no idea people were selling fabric there. I also had no idea that this would be “legal” under FB rules. I first like to shop local, but prices have gone up so much. All my local quilt shops charge $11.95 per yard now. But most times I do shop online and it’s mainly to get a specific fabric or line that I can’t find locally.
Such an interesting article.
Jennifer Bernstein says
Thank you for taking a look at this issue. I can’t imagine that a $44 profit on a bolt of fabric will be sustainable in the long term. If it takes 2 hours for 2 people to cut, package and mail orders for everyone that purchased from that bolt, this would only be $11 per hour. That doesn’t even include the time it takes to administer the facebook page and send out invoices which I am sure takes lots of time since there is no easy way to collect orders through facebook (unlike an Etsy shop or independent retailer). These numbers might be pretty generous overall and at that point it seems more like a hobby than a sustainable business model.
One of my good friends owns one of the mainstream quilt shops that you mentioned in this post. And even at $10 per yard, the margins are thin. For them, it really is a mom and pop operation that started in their basement and grew into a company that provides jobs for many people. To maintain her shop, she has gotten extremely creative in what she offers and how she markets her products. The service that she provides to her customers is excellent and she genuinely cares about the sewing community. In 2014, a significant number of mainstream retailers shut their doors exactly because the margins have been pushed so low. And when those retailers liquidated their inventory at prices that neared wholesale costs (or even lower), it was a struggle for other retailers to stay afloat because their customer’s fabric budget went elsewhere. In the long run, those that are able to keep going may become stronger because the competition has thinned. But it is still not the most lucrative business. Ultimately, I don’t want to see any more of these companies shutter their doors. Competition is good, but not when it ultimately drives to a monopoly.
Thank you for writing this great article. I work with a group of PDF pattern designers/children’s garment sewists, and they are very big into the FB fabric groups. I have had two experiences with orders, and I do not like to order from the FB sellers. They take eons from pre-order to actual shipping, and then they charge you for the fabric first with a second charge for shipping. I prefer to support my local shop, and when I absolutely can’t find something, I will order from an online retailer. It is very hard to find good knits, and I do get tired of having mostly quilt shop cottons to make garments. I guess I am still pretty old-school about wanting to go to a fabric store and buying good quality fabric. The big box fabric stores just don’t sell quality fabric.
I am a fabric maker, I offer high end, hand dyed fabrics according to the customers specifications. I have not been able to get my fabrics into a store, so I made my own- which included an exclusive Facebook group. I see these coops/shops/stores as filling an obvious gap that hasn’t been picked up by many other retailers. Like any other business if theres a demand and a lack of delivery (by existing shops) then there are those who will find a way to deliver and meet needs. Nothing more than free market supply and demand going on. Every fabric buying experiance comes with its own set of rules and it is up to each shopper to determain what to do and where. As far as ‘fairness’, well thats in the eye of the beholder. Folks are trying to make a living on both ends of this discussion. Is it fair for only the fabric sellers to make profit? Shouldnt every one willing to buy, have an equal opportunity to do what they love and make a profit? From fabric makers, to clothing makers, to stuffie makers, to diaper makers, cash flow is an issue and if purchasing from a fb groups lets one ease up and offer product at a reasonable price, it should be ‘allowed’. Besides, if products from only established companies are ‘allowed’ to be distributed, then the whole industry lacks insight and innovation and will ultimately fail to meet any needs (and will fail to make profit as well)
Megan Byrne says
While reading all the posts from Abby’s article I too was struck with the thought that this is not about fairness to other businesses. I was of the opinion that the marketplace was a supply and demand deal. If fabric is needed by customers then someone will supply it at a price that the market can sustain. Some of the posts suggest that fabric buyers should not be supporting these new ways of market supply because they are “unfair” to what they see as legitimate businesses. I say if the demand for varied and interesting fabric is there then legitimate businesses need to take heed and adjust their inventories and fight back. I would love to see more of the independent designers fabric about . I do a lot of online fabric shopping as here in Australia cotton fabric can run to $30 a metre (39″). Even with postage I can save money buying online.
I love your investigative posts. It’s a refreshing independent voice. A friend just started a public shop on FB (not a group) and I’m surprised at how easy it’s getting to do that. The shop software seems fairly new but it appears that FB might be positioning itself as an e-commerce option. She is also seriously underpricing her work and I think this is because she is starting with the feeling of “I’m selling to friends” instead of “I’m starting a business”. It can be both of course but on FB it almost feels like a barter economy.
Sarah Hardy says
As a person who buys fabric for the purposes of making handmade items to sell, it can be hard to ignore lower prices in favor of supporting businesses with a traditional business model. On the other hand, I was very sad to see Sew Mama Sew and now Pink Chalk Fabrics stop selling fabric, as I had frequently purchased from both sites. Great food for thought in the article!
I am always fascinated by your articles about the quilting business. While I do shop at my LQS, I am always looking for places to buy quality quilting fabric at a discount. I want the lowest price. That said, I also want my local store to stay in business — so I spread my quilting money around.
What I’m curious about is the relationship between the price of cotton (the commodity) and the price per yard of quilting fabric. Although, there is great deal of discussion about the price of quilting fabric and the markup by different sellers, I rarely see a discussion of the price of cotton (the commodity). About 5 or 6 years ago the price of cotton spiked dramatically and subsequently the price of quilting fabric per yard increased equally dramatically. That spike in the commodity didn’t last too long and we saw cotton prices come down. The price of quilting fabric, however, has remained high and has even increased. I’m curious about how the actual market for the commodity cotton interacts with the quilting fabric market. Do you have any insights?
Here is a link to the price of Cotton (the commodity) — http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=cotton&months=120 or just Google “price of cotton commodity” The 10-year graph is eye-opening.
That’s a great question and not something I know much about, despite having taught junior high school in Greenwood, Mississippi, the former cotton capital of the world. I will keep this topic in mind for future research. Thank you!
Another great and insightful article. Thanks Abby.
There is an idea circulating around that the money that is made beyond the wholesale price is profit. I would love to dispel this notion.
To wit “A bolt of fabric costs approximately $82.50 plus $4 freight. Most bolts have about 15 yards of fabric. Selling it off at $8.75 per yard means just a $44.75 profit per bolt”
The $44.75 that might be made is called gross margin or sometimes margin. It is not profit. Profit is what you make after you pay the bills.
I read this post after doing a search to find out how much these facebook groups are buying their printed in China, cotton/lycra knit fabric for. I have purchased four times from 2 different groups, but at $18-20/yard, I stopped. I am sure they are making a huge profit. Most of the designs I purchased were prints that I later found on can stock and shutterstock. I see many groups selling unlicensed prints of copyrighted characters (Disney and cartoon/tv/tmovie characters). I won’t buy those, nor will I buy anymore of this over-priced fabric. I haven’t had any issue with the quality, but something about it just rubs me the wrong way.
I don’t know what the markup is on custom knit fabrics sold in Facebook groups so I can’t say for sure if the owners of these groups are making a profit or not. I know that just this week there was a big scandal in one group when the owner accepted a lot of money from people but is seemingly not shipping any fabric out despite promising to do so (looks like close to $15K). I agree with you the there are definitely a lot of pirated Disney characters being printed and a whole lot of Shutterstock imagery. I do think people are buying the licenses to the stock imagery, at least some of the time.
Overall to me it says that there’s a market for more imaginative knit prints and a space for a legitimate company to make them and sell them. Buying from a company that is based solely on Facebook is always rather questionable to me.
As someone who has recently started buying from the custom world on fb and other fabric shops on fb a lot of them do have outside websites set up but you get all the updates by being in the Facebook group. So from that point they still have the cost of the website. I have chosen to order from these businesses instead of other online fabric locations because of shipping. I live in Hawaii and some businesses won’t ship to me, or charge me outrageous rates, or use ridiculous shipping practices that takes my fabric 6 weeks to get to me even if it isn’t custom. I like having a connection with the owner, two of which are currently holding orders for me; one because it was a preorder then I went on vacation when shipping time came up, the other because she allows you to hold orders so you can maximize your shipping costs! This means so much to me as someone who is regularly overcharged for shipping. I’m really enjoying my Facebook purchasing of fabric because I cannot get this treatment outside of Facebook. No business that I’ve had shipping issues with and then subsequently contacted has ever gotten back to me as promptly or as effectively as a business that operates in the Facebook platform. I actually feel like these businesses care about me and my dollar, this means the world to me!!
HIPPO bc I didn’t read the commennts. Breanne only sells PRE ordera at that price. Meaning we have ordered sometimes it MONTHS in advance. For that commitment we get a discounted price. She sells RETAIL also at the higher retail volume.
the only drawback for the customer is that if there’s not enough interest in the particular fabric print, it’s not ordered. We have to wait for it to be released and order it wholesale…. Many months later. It lets me decide what I plan to sew for different reasons around fabric I know will be arriving at my home LONG before I wandered in and found it at my LQS.
Also. Can you please explain to me how this is ANY different than a “mom and pop organization that started out in theur basement and grew into a shop”.
I fail to see the difference. Truly. Those mom and pops operated at lower profit margins for years probably.
And at least rhe fb groups end any concern about power and lights and rent on a facilty, not to mention the myriad laws concerning employees includiny havjng to provide access to benefits like health insurance and paying the different taxes employera are required to lay.
Yes. They’re making less per bolt, but it also COSTS them much less to sell this bolt.
Sorry. I buy from many kf these groups, including Breanne. This whole thing and especially the comments seem like a witch hunt. “Look at these awful FB businesses and how they’re going to bring down FQS.”
Please. Give me ONE small business fabric shop that only operates online. ONE. Because I would much rather support a WAHM who bas stepped out therenwith the financial commitment (good groups keep $20k or more in an account specifically for the unexpected and while most do say *no returns* all the good hosts will look at it on an individual basis. And if you’re money is held up an additional 9 months, ask for a refund. If they say no that’s what PayPal buyers protection–now 180 days–is FOR.) than some large company that I can’t see their business ethics or how they treat their employees–in the FB case, group moderators.
Jen K says
I saw this blog post in your year end review and I too think the social aspect of the Facebook fabric groups is important. Have you bought any fabric or notions / supplies from Massdrop? They use a “coop style”, and include a social platform. I don’t know how popular they are yet, but certainly seem to be trying to combine a traditional online shop with a social platform.
Christine Sands says
You blog is amazing! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.
I just came across this because I’ve been curious about these groups myself. I personally am not a fan of the business model to take pre orders and wait several months, so I have avoided it. But I was also wondering if they were making huge profits. It does seem like they could get the fabric printed very cheaply from china and score big at $20 a yard! Anyways, I think some of the commentary really hit the reason why they’re selling. We love knits and quality, and the fun prints/ patterns that they offer. The big box stores or mom and pop stores are huge into supplying all these prints for woven..but hardly an aisle of knit. I think they are catering to some of the quilters..but there’s a whole lot of us out there who are totally into knits. Especially with kids we are begging for the cute stuff. I know I much prefer shopping in person but there is nothing to be found. I am still curious about what they’re making if they’re ordering from china.
I realize this is an older topic, but I’ve just found the underground world of custom knits sold through FB. I’m only commenting on those groups, and I feel they are filling a niche that has demand. I’ve been to fabric stores all over the country and the knits tend to be similar. Now we can have Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lilly Pulizer, and Disney “inspired” prints and coordinates. They are finding a way to make money while keeping overhead down.
I too wonder what the actual cost is and which vendors these places use. Not that I want to steal their model, but in case I wanted to order 50 yards of something I’ve been dreaming up I would want to contact a reputable place rather than take my chances on Alibaba. I guess that’s the risk they are taking when they start out.
Cathy Perlmutter says
For the past couple of weeks, working on a couple of big projects, I am finding it sad and a loss that there are virtually no more quilt shops in my city (Pasadena, CA), which used to have several great ones. I love a bargain as much as anyone, but the online fabric industry has caused this, of course. Maybe we can’t fight these massive economic shifts, so we might as well join them? So now are we even going to put Mom and Pop online shops out of business because we can get it cheaper on Facebook? Someone mentioned Fabric.com – it used to be a very personal small business, but Amazon bought it. OK, I’m a Luddite. Choosing quilt fabric online is like shopping wearing eclipse glasses, and heavy rubber gloves.
Amazon bought it in 2008, so it’s been a while.