I’ve been doing some research, and it seems like to open a new account you typically have to buy somewhere around $500 to $750 of fabric. Each bolt usually contains 15 yards, and the smallest amount of any one print you can buy is a bolt. Sounds great in theory (I can go through Mezzanine and Nicey Jane pretty darn quickly) but I just can’t come to a decision.
Right now, I obsessively follow fabric sales and buy in bulk. For instance, this morning I got an email that fabric.com is having a $3.95 cotton prints sale. I looked through all 8 pages of sale items, found five I liked that fit in with the overall color scheme in my shop, and ordered 3 yards of each. I had a 15% off coupon, so my total for 15 yards was right around $50, which is only $3.35 a yard (less than wholesale). Truthfully this good of a deal doesn’t happen all that often, and I’m always at the mercy of what’s available in the sale section.
I do buy at retail price occasionally if I need something specific or if someone requests a print. During the holidays I had a couple of special orders where the customer requested that I make something from a fabric they saw in the store, but I didn’t have any more on hand. In those cases I had to suck it up and pay full price, which cuts into my profits.
My husband suggested making a good ol’ pros and cons list of buying wholesale, so here you go:
- Fabric is CHEAP – usually half the retail price
- I wouldn’t have to spend so much time hunting down sales
- I’d have plenty of fabric on hand
- I could make more multiples of items, cutting down on the time I spend taking pictures and writing listings
- I’d have rows of beautiful fabric in my house, like having my very own fabric store!
- I’ll have less variety in fabric prints. I make pretty small things, so it will take me a while to go through 15 yards.
- I’d be limited to just one or two manufacturers. I am trying really hard to only spend money when I make money, so I just can’t afford to open very many accounts.
- I’d probably still have to buy other fabrics here and there
- I’m afraid my Etsy shop would look boring with less variety in fabrics
- You’ve seen my sewing room – where would I store it all?!
Another option occurred to me last week – I can open a fabric shop on Etsy to sell off my excess fabric inventory. I really don’t know if I want to tackle running another Etsy store, but it is tempting to have license to buy a LOT of fabric.
I’d love some objective opinions on this whole thing. I go back and forth on it and I really just need to make a decision and go for it.
Where do you guys buy supplies? Do you just buy what you need when you need it, or do you stock up when you find a good price?