I went to one of the local fabric stores today. We have two local non-chains, I think the other one is mostly decor fabric. I didn't need anything, just wanted to browse, maybe pick up a magnetic snap for a bag I'm going to make. Despite them being here the entire time I've lived here, I think I'd only been in once right after I moved here, and didn't really remember it.
They had lots of very nice things arranged very nicely and lots of nice mod theme fabrics that I kind of fell in love with. They had a bunch of vintage stuff on display that made me feel like I was rooting through mom's sewing basket again. I feel like I had a giant smile on my face looking at some of it. I'm sure that I will be back at some point once I have a project in mind and more disposable income to spend on it.
There were about 4 or 5 ladies there when I went in, and about 5 minutes after I got in there, one of them made the statement that "the Internet is killing retailers!" and then the rest of them joined in on the bandwagon.
Oh honey, you didn't just say that. Sigh.
Yes, the Internet is a vast source of almost anything you want at almost any price. However, it's not killing businesses. It's attitudes like the one they were spouting that kill businesses. Wise business owners are using it to their advantage. No, the crafting/sewing industry isn't a rapidly changing place, but the retail market is in terms of how people are shopping. In order to keep up, you need to at least make yourself familiar with the landscape. Refusal to change means refusal to service the people that can keep you in business.
Some people just want cheap stuff. That's a given. You don't necessarily have to try to compete to cater to them. Sotheby's of London doesn't try to cater to cheapskates, do they? They're still doing okay. The people that want cheap crap will go to Walmart or Ebay or wherever they can get it. It's the people that are looking for specifics that should be your target.
Some newbies aren't looking for cheap stuff, but rather someone to help them out when they don't know about a certain fabric or technique. How are we supposed to know you can help if you don't tell us?
Local businesses don't necessarily have to be selling online, but they at least need let the community know what they have available. I know that if I'm looking for something locally (products, services, lessons, barbeque) I turn to the Internet first to try and find a place. If they've got a website, that helps me out even more in my decision to go there or not, especially if it's somewhere that I'll have to go out of my way to get there.
This store has a website. I could have sworn it used to have a few pages with different things, but now it's just one that says "website coming soon." Hopefully they use it to their advantage.
I did not end up buying anything. Not due to the politics, just that they didn't have the type of snap I wanted and I'm on a fabric diet until I use some of the stuff I have, even though I fell in love with a gorgeous royal blue silk fat quarter that begged me to take it home and love it and make something with it.
Don't be afraid of change. Not all change is bad.