Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Buying Fabric Wholesale

I’ve been tossing around the idea of signing up for some wholesale fabric accounts.  There’s no doubt about it, it would be cheaper – wholesale fabric is about half the cost.  But man, is it a lot of fabric to buy at once!

01 25 10 bobaloo! bolts of fabric

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.

fabric 7 16 10

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?!

11 5 10 desk

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? 

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