A few days ago, a customer was quite upset with me when I told her that typically, our quilt shop doesn't sell batting. Visibly upset, she spat "What kind of quilt store doesn't sell batting?! ALL good quilt stores carry batting!" This is not the first time lately that a customer has left upset because we don't routinely stock batting.
We have been in business for four years, and we learned quickly that batting is not really an option for us in our area. We don't carry it often, and when we do, it is a single size run (crib, twin, queen and king) of packaged batting. Currently, all we have is a queen sized roll of black batting, and a bolt of fusible fleece. After discussing this with the owner (also, my mother), we both thought it wise to address the batting issue on our Facebook, and on my blog. This isn't meant to scold or to complain, rather, it is to help give insight as to why many quilt shops lack one very basic item on their shevles.
So, why doesn't our shop, and many other independent quilt shops not stock batting in quantity, or by the yard?
First of all, there is a huge storage issue - full bolts of batting are huge and most local shops can't house them.
But there is one very, very big reason. Most shops, ours included, cannot compete with this:
That's right. Your local quilt store is getting out competed on batting by JoAnn's. Or Hancock's. Or whatever your big box fabric store is in your area.
Here's the deal. JoAnn's has a HUGE overhead. With hundreds of locations around the country making thousands of dollars every single day, they can afford to discount their products in this way. It brings people in to buy yardage in quantities they couldn't before, and on top of that, to buy higher priced items than they normally would, with the knowledge that the cost would be cut by 40%.
Let's apply this to batting. A kind sized package of batting runs anywhere for $40-$70 dollars, depending on the material (cotton vs. polyester vs. wool vs. soy, etc). Now, with a 40% off coupon, that $40-$70 dollar pack of batting is now $24-$42. That's quite the savings!
So, let's look at a local quilt shop, that has one location. Their overhead is vastly different than that of JoAnn's. They can't afford to chop the price of their merchandise that way, and maintain any kind of quality in their products at the same time. They have to sell that batting for the suggested retail price of $40-$70. People balk at the expense, and comment that they can get it more inexpensively at JoAnn's with their 40% coupon, or during whatever sale promotion that applies.
We simply cannot compete with the sale pricing they offer, not to mention the word of mouth that our product is available more cheaply at JoAnn's with a coupon. For the local quilt shop, their regularly priced batting sits and collects dust. It becomes unsellable, all because of the big box store having the ability to discount the price. We simply cannot compete with this, and many, many other local quilt shops are the same way. If there is a JoAnn's or Hancock's nearby, expect their batting selection to be limited, if any at all.
As a matter of fact, I made a pit stop at JoAnn's on Saturday (the 24th) to check out their fall decor, and this is what I saw while walking in:
40% off cotton batting by the yard and by the pack, and 50% off polyester batting by the yard or by the pack, with a few bolts gone, and many packages missing. As I walked past the cutting counter, a lady was getting several yards of cotton batting cut.
Unfortunately, this is a the nature of the beast when independent stores and bog box stores go head to head. On some items, the discounted price point is so attractive that people make the financially logical choice and go for big box.
Please understand that your local shops would LOVE to stock batting, but when there is a 40% discount versus suggested retail price, on this item 99% of people opt for the savings, not the local shop price, so batting isn't a sellable item for most local shops.