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Heidi Kaisand, Hen & Chicks Studio – Building An Audience With Retreats

by | Apr 12, 2024

Episode Summary

Spencer Wright and Heidi Kaisand discuss important topics in the quilting industry. Heidi shares some of her insight into how to better understand your customers and maximize that information, as well as how to build an audience for your sewing store by hosting retreats.

Heidi also talks about her experience as the publisher of Creative Retailer helps broaden her perspective on retail trends to apply to hers and other small businesses.

Key Insights

  • It is important to put in the work to understand your customer.
  • If you can gather data to help you know what your customers are buying, use it.
  • Express your personality in your business.
  • Look for inspiration in the whole retail environment.

Episode Highlights

  • The first thing they need to do though is understand their customer very well.
  • Get down into what are those top 20 people buying from you and how does that look?
  • Every shop owner is able to put their own personality into the shop.
  • I love getting out of my own store and see what other people do.

Guest Bio

Heidi Kaisand runs Hen & Chicks Studio in Conrad, Iowa. In addition to successfully managing a retail quilting and retreat studio Heidi is the publisher of Creative Retailer, a trusted source of information and resources to improve their specialty businesses.


[00:00:00] Spencer: Hello and welcome to the Quilt Shop podcast. I have Heidi Kaisand with me. Heidi is, you know, probably one of my longtime friends in the you know, quilting and sewing industry. Heidi is the publisher of Creative Retailer and also the owner of Hen & Chicks Studio in Conrad, Iowa. Heidi, how are you today?

[00:00:41] Heidi: I am great, Spencer, how are you doing? 

[00:00:44] Spencer: Yeah, I am so good. It’s the first day of May, I believe, which is, you know, kind of the start of the best seasons for us here in Utah and you know, just summer and everything that comes along with that. So, you know, weather-wise, I am ecstatic. And then from a podcast standpoint, to have you on the podcast is just an absolute joy for me.

You know, for those of you who don’t know, Heidi was really, probably the first person I met when I kind of got, you know, started in Like Sew and has really been, a great partner with us and just, you know, a friend and someone to learn from as, you know, an example of someone who runs their business.

So for me, I am just ecstatic to be with you on the podcast. So thank you so much for joining us. 

[00:01:24] Heidi: Well, thank you for inviting me. And maybe somebody will leave a May basket on your door today. You know that the old tradition of May baskets, it’s May Day. Are you not familiar? 

[00:01:36] Spencer: I don’t know what that is. I don’t, no. Tell me about it. 

[00:01:38] Heidi: Oh my gosh. It’s a long old tradition that on May 1st, that you would fill a basket or a paper cone with candy or flowers, and then you would hang it on somebody’s door. It’s often somebody that you obviously admire or like, and then you knock on the door and run. And then they would find this special treat or treasure on their doorknob when they opened up at the door, so.

[00:02:06] Spencer: Okay. That is amazing. Will you be leaving a May basket on anyone’s door today? 

[00:02:10] Heidi: I don’t know yet. The day is not over. It is young. It’s young. 

[00:02:13] Spencer: The day is young, yeah. 

[00:02:14] Heidi: So, I may yet. 

[00:02:16] Spencer: Okay. I love that. Alright, Heidi, well I just, to kind of give some background on you, so I introduce you as you know, the publisher of Creative Retailer formerly you know, American Quilt Retailer and then obviously the owner of Hen & Chicks Studio.

Tell us a little bit about what came first. Did AQR come first? Did Hen and Chicks come first? You know, I’d love to hear a little bit about that. 

[00:02:36] Heidi: Well, absolutely. And Hen Chicks Studio did come before purchasing the publication. American Quote Retailer, now Creative Retailer, has been published for over 25, actually closer to 30 years and I was very aware of that publication, having been in the industry myself for more than 30 years. But I owned Hen and Chick Studio and again, I was aware of the magazine. I’d gotten the magazine because of good insight into business and how to run a business. But in 2014, I was asked to help the current owner at that time with some editorial and it was exactly what I needed as the owner of Hen and Chick Studio. I didn’t realize how thirsty I was maybe, for the kind of content, the business content that helps you run your business and I just fell in love with it and it, one thing led to another and in October of 2015, I ended up purchasing it.

[00:03:45] Spencer: Amazing. Amazing. I mean, what a fun story for you to go through that progression and like start learning from a publication and then end up being such a big part of that. And I’m sure we’ll touch a little bit on the transition between American Quilt Retailer to Creative Retailer now and what that has entailed for you.

But I’m curious, you know, as someone who owns a local quilt shop in Conrad. But you’re also kind of on a national scale with this publication. How would you say, like, you know, you’re always interacting with I imagine some of the biggest brands in the industry and some of the biggest names.

How do you think that’s impacted the way that you run your quilt shop on a local level? You know, as we, we look and, you know, a lot of retailers are listening to this and from your perspective, you know, how has that changed for you? 

[00:04:29] Heidi: You bet. Well, I think if the number one thing is, I’m aware, I’m very aware of what is happening in the industry on many different levels from who’s making fabric to, who’s designing quilts, to what products are being introduced.

So I’m probably, I’ll say even more absorbed into that kind of content than maybe the average quilt shop owner is, but what I would take away from that is how that it helps me, is that I can become very defined as to what products I want, and I feel like I can make good choices because I am aware.

I’m not blindly going in and ordering this or ordering that, but rather I’m knowledgeable, I have, you know, again, I’m aware of all the different companies and I can come back and say, okay, what is best for Hen and Chick Studio a quilt shop. 

[00:05:28] Spencer: No. Sure. I think that totally makes sense, like the word aware is like really sticking out to me there. When you think of, you know, I’d love to hear what your advice would be for quilt shops, you know, obviously you get a lot of this awareness just from the exposure from the publication, but what would your advice be to you know, every day, you know, quilt shops that are not obviously running a large scale publication. How can they be more aware and how can they benefit from that? 

[00:05:53] Heidi: Oh, there’s so many different ways, and I’m gonna say the first thing they need to do though is understand their customer very well, because as they become more aware of all these products, it’s coming back to, “how am I gonna make a decision as to what is the best thing for my shop?”

So you really have to take a look at who your customer is and oh my gosh, there’s articles, we have all sorts of articles in the magazine about creating an avatar for your customer. Like truly defining and almost naming, creating a character, if you wanna call it, that says that Susie Quilter, she is my average customer, her average age is. Her, you know, her general likes are this. What is her buying trend? How much is she typically buying? Is she buying kits? Is she buying fabric, you know, yardage? Is she buying tools? Is she wanting to try new techniques or is she kind of set on certain techniques? And the more you understand who that person is, the more defined you’re gonna be in your purchases so that as you start searching out.

And becoming aware of more products that you can help come back and make that decision. And I’m gonna even go as far as to say, to interview your, let’s just say top 20 customers and ask them about the products and really, Get down into what are those top 20 people buying from you and how does that look?

So if all of a sudden you go, oh my gosh, they’re buying all sorts of rulers. Okay, well then how do I, you know, learn more about different types of rulers and how could I, if you wanna say, interject those things into the content that I’m selling, the product that I’m selling at the store. Then you need to find those businesses, right?

So first of all, going to a trade show is such an important part of that awareness and really I like to say, don’t go to the trade show with the idea that you’re only gonna see a few businesses. Make sure you really look at every booth. Make sure you really, you know, take the time to become a aware of those different companies because you might be surprised that on the surface X, Y, Z company, Might sell this, but when you start talking with them, oh, did you know they had this extra product or this extra, you know, pattern that would be appropriate for your customers? So going to a trade show, number one. 

Number two: taking a subscription out on a trade publication like Creative Retailer. Might seem obvious, but again, in embracing and indulging yourself in that kind of information, and again, instead of skipping over ads going, oh, I don’t need that or, oh, I’m, you know, making sure that you’re actually reading it and taking the time.

It doesn’t take as much time as you think. And then of course, Then I’m saying like, go to the variety of companies that you know of and search out. Do they have blogs? Do they have newsletters? You know, what kind of information could you gain from them to learn about what products they’re selling? And so many of the companies have such specific, you know, ways to help just like what you are doing here with this podcast, learning more You know, again, somebody who listens to this, you know, they might think, oh, I’m gonna learn just about the POS system. Oh, no you’re already, you know, you’re learning about other stuff right now. 

So it’s that kind of, again, you will at some point say, okay, I’ve got too much information, or I’ve got plenty of information. Now I’m gonna start weeding it out. But I guess always make sure that you are giving everything a fair chance before you make that decision.

[00:09:48] Spencer: Yeah, I think that was absolutely incredible advice. So thank you Heidi for sharing that. I think you know, to kind of recap, you know, number one would, I would say, would be, define your customer and educate yourself, right. Would be like the two things that I really took away from that.

And I think, you know, defining your customer is something in the quilt and sewing space that I think is really fascinating because in a lot of ways, it comes like being in the quilting industry comes with a little bit of a predefined customer, right? Like I think as a common group, we could meet together and there would be a lot of similarities between your shop in Conrad, Iowa and you know, one of our local shops here in Springville or Provo, and a shop in Texas, right, like, by and large, there will be a lot of similarities. 

However, You know, when you think about the differences between those markets you know, how do you capitalize on those things, right? And how do you further define your customer from what the base, you know, kind of quote customer would be?

And that’s something I think about a lot is like, what are the differences between these markets, you know, where we do see so much commonality? And I think that quilting and sewing is kind of unique in that, right? Like, I think that you could have any kind of retail shop throughout the US and you would not have as much commonality in the customer base as you do in quilting and sewing. Would you agree with that, Heidi? 

[00:11:12] Heidi: Oh, yeah. There, I mean, there’s so many things that, again, what you’re saying. So first of all, like There’s familiarity when you go into a large, I’m gonna say big box store, one of my favorites, Target, that you know what I mean? 

[00:11:26] Spencer: Like, oh, yeah. 

[00:11:27] Heidi: There’s familiarity.

[00:11:28] Spencer: Yeah. We use Target, don’t. Yeah. 

[00:11:30] Heidi: Okay. Yeah. You know what I mean? That you go in and you know what to expect. You know what you’re getting and there’s comfort in that. As a consumer, I can find comfort in that. It’s enjoyable. I’m not gonna get frustrated that I can’t find a certain product. Okay. So there’s things about that, that are wonderful. 

What I love about the quilt industry is that, yes, there is familiarity. If it has the word quilt shop on it, or fabric shop, or however you know, whatever term, you know, you’re gonna go in and you’re gonna find fabric, you’re gonna find patterns, you’re gonna find probably inspiration, right. We could just, I’m gonna say, do those three things at the moment. 

But what’s awesome about the quilt industry is that, this is where creativity just explodes, is that every shop owner is able to put their own personality into the shop, and that then makes each quilt shop unique from each other because they have defined who they are. They, you know, we can’t be everything to everybody, right? So like right off the bat, I’m gonna tell you I’m allergic to paper Foundation piecing. So you will not find Paper Foundation piecing in my store. Just, you won’t. 

[00:12:55] Spencer: Wait. Are you really? You like you’re actually allergic to it? 

[00:12:57] Heidi: Well, that’s my thing.

[00:12:58] Spencer: You just don’t like it? 

[00:12:59] Heidi: I just don’t like it. It’s my thing. Right? 

[00:13:01] Spencer: I was like, I was like, no way. I didn’t even know that was a thing. 

[00:13:03] Heidi: Yeah. No, No. Just, you know…. 

[00:13:05] Spencer: It’s not your thing. 

[00:13:06] Heidi: It’s just not my thing. But you know what? That’s okay. 

[00:13:09] Spencer: Yeah. 

[00:13:09] Heidi: Because as a shop owner, I can’t do everything, right. So there’s a shop about an hour and a half from me. That is her gig. Awesome. I send people there all the time, like if you want that, you go there because that’s what’s wonderful about her shop. And so, again, I think that uniqueness starts to define the look of a shop, the fabric choices of the shop you know, all sorts of things that go with that.

And I would say that customers are drawn. If I had told you 12 years ago what my customer looked like, I bet we would have a lot of similarities cuz if you wanna say I, you know, today because I went looking for those people. I wanted to find those people that would like the way I set up my store. I wasn’t searching for paper foundation people, you know what I mean? You know? Yeah. And so, I would hope that I grew my customer base going, here’s how, here’s my personality. If you like it, come here. Right. And that’s, you know, you’re gonna find all of this stuff here. So I love that about quilt shops. 

And then that’s, I’m gonna say just one step further, from a consumer standpoint, that’s what consumers love about quilt shops. Yeah, and why shop hops are so popular. And why it is, I mean, if we think that a consumer is only gonna come to our store, we’re not really thinking correctly, right. Because that’s part of the fun of being a quilter is that experience and the consumer end of it, of going to a shop and going, oh, I like this shop because they do have paper foundation piecing. And I like this shop because they don’t have paper foundation piecing. I like this shop because they have brights. I like this shop because it has darks. I, you know what I mean? There’s just so much, you know, difference. 

And then add even the physical parts. Again, let’s go back to my Target. Again, right, we know what the sign’s gonna look like on the outside. We know what the layout of the store is gonna look like. Again, there’s comfort in that. I love it, right? There’s certain things, but then again, that’s what’s great about quilt shops and the whole industry is that this shop is down a dirt road. I’m in a small town of about 1100. There’s more in a big city. And it just completes that whole, I mean, for me, a complete circle of why the quilting industry is so much fun. 

[00:15:40] Spencer: Yeah, no, I think that, like, that’s such a fun segment. I’m gonna go back and listen to you say that again so I can let even more of it sink in.

But yeah, I mean, and like it’s interesting to hear you say these things because I’ve seen you actually live them in the way that you run your store and in the way that you engage with your community. And that I’ll just, you know, kind of sidebar here. So I’ve been out to Des Moines a couple of times, well Conrad, but you know, in the Greater Des Moines area for a couple of events that Heidi’s had and something that I’ve been really amazed about is that like, Heidi’s shop is, like immaculate, right? Like I go to Heidi’s shop and I’m like, wow, this thing is like the mecca of quilt shops, right? And certainly there are bigger quilt shops and different, you know, of all kinds. But something that we spent like a lot of time doing at these events are that we’ve been to other quilt shops in the area, right?

And, And supposedly like from a market analysis standpoint, these are competitors, right? Or I guess if you were to write it on paper, they would be competitors. And yet Heidi’s taking us to these stores and we’re learning and gleaning information from these stores that are in the area. And I’m like, this is incredible. Like the kind of community that you’re fostering by allowing us to do this. Like, I just don’t know anyone else that does something like that. 

[00:16:54] Heidi: Well, I think it is. So, you know, thank you, and, you know, our shop can be just as messy as the next one at times, so, you know, obviously we knew you were coming, so we had it right. We had a perfect, sure, you know, dressed up. But I love getting out of my own store and see what other people do. I may go into store A and go, “oh, I have missed the mark. They are doing signage in a way that I have never seen before.” You know, if we can glean something from that, great.

Somebody might come into my store cuz we did discuss this at a meeting, I think we’re perfecting how to create a quilt kit. And we’re putting cardboard in it. It’s looking really professional. If anybody, any shop owner can come into my store and learn how we’re doing that and take it and put their own spin on it for themselves, more power to ’em. 

This is, I come back over and over to, “I would rather be a river than a reservoir.” and that quote to me Is just so important. John Maxwell, I believe, said that in a book. 

Again, if somebody had the magical answers to every aspect of running a business. Well, first of all, everybody would be retired and be on a beach cuz they would’ve made their million and they’d be done, right? And so there’s an element of we’re all learning. So I love to go into other kinds of stores as well. So a knit shop, a coffee shop, a clothing store. I mean, there are so many different ways that you can learn. I’m gonna think of different speakers, but Natalie at Natural Grind in Grundy Center, Iowa, is a marketer. She is dealing with I’m gonna say a menu, which if you wanna say, might be our inventory list. hers just happens to be a menu, but it’s still inventory. It’s still figuring out the pricing. It’s still figuring out how to get it out the door. She of course has, I’ll say with food issues, you have a whole different level of how fast it has to go out the door, right?

Sure. But still, it’s turning that around. How are you doing social media? She’s still trying to attract different people into her business. Same as me. I’m trying to attract different people. Hey, but wait a minute. Sometimes our customers are the same. So how do we work together? She was just at my store last week. Our town had a girl’s night out. I wanted to have a reason for anyone to come in my store, right? Because we don’t want people going, “oh, it’s a quilt shop. I don’t quilt.” No, we want ’em in this store because you just don’t know. They might go, “oh wait, she’s got stuff that’s non-quilt related”, or, “I didn’t know this was here.”

Okay, so. I had a mocktail and appetizer event. Well, where would I go for mocktails? I’d go to Natalie because she sells mocktail, ingredients. So how we can combine and work together and create, if you wanna say partnerships is very exciting to me. But yet you can absolutely learn from other shops. Again, whether it’s signage or how they have it arranged. I’ve been into stores where I’m like, You know what? I can breathe in this store. I can breathe. There’s space on the walls. There’s space between the aisles. You know what? I came back home to my store and went, I’ve got four quilts in a row. You can’t tell the difference between any of ’em. How are we not confusing? Consumers when they walk in, when they’ve just, they’re, we’re just hitting them. So I’m taking quilts off the wall. I’m giving us some space. So we can breathe, so we can have, you know. So there’s things like that, that you can learn.

And there’s plenty of that. I go, okay, we’re doing this better. Right? I mean, yeah. Yeah. That’s okay too. 

[00:20:35] Spencer: No. Absolutely. And I think that, like you’re speaking exactly to what I had said, which is like this community that you’re learning from and fostering is just so, so fun to watch.

Well, so Heidi, I think we’re gonna go to break real quick. I will say we’re gonna come back and talk a little bit more about the retreat side of Hen & Chicks Studio when we’re back. And so we’ll go ahead and go to break there.

Okay, and welcome back. I’m still here with Heidi. We are going to kind of dive into the retreat center portion of Heidi’s business. One of the things that I really love is. Finding quilt shops that have a unique niche, right? And I know there are a lot of quilt shops, you know, that listen to this podcast, that, use like so, or that, you know, don’t do either of those things that have retreat centers. And I’ve seen Heidi’s retreat center. It’s really cool and I want to talk a little bit about it. 

So, to kind of get started, tell us, Heidi what came like, you know, we, we said what came first: AQR or Hen & Chicks. In this case, what came first: the retreat center at Hen & Chicks Studio or the quilt shop portion downstairs?

[00:22:35] Heidi: Well, absolutely the retreat center did. And you might find this kind of funny, but if you had asked me 15 years ago if I was gonna be owning a quilt shop, I would’ve told you, oh my gosh, no. Those people work so hard. I am not owning a quilt shop. I had done in my earlier publishing days at American Patchwork and Quilty Magazine, we created the magazine Quilt Sampler, which is all about quilt shop owners.

So for years I had been introduced to quilt shop owners, and I always thought they’re the hardest working people out there, yeah, because of, you know, anyway, the things that we did. So this is like a transition, right? So when I left publishing, my first publishing job with American Patrick and quilting, my focus has always been I’ll say how to get so that my kids are at the top of my priority list, and of course they’re now getting older and, you know, gonna be moving on and that kind of thing. 

So when I went to my next job, I was like, how am I gonna stay involved and what is it I like to do? Well, I actually love, I’m gonna say hospitality. I love taking care of people. There’s a reason that the name of my shop is Hen & Chicks Studio. I’m mother hen. I love to take people under my wing. I love to help people. I love to create an atmosphere where people can be creative and relax and enjoy and maybe step away from a busy schedule. 

So I started hosting retreats in other venues. Okay. So the first one was actually in a house and I did that a couple of times. Then the house closed, that business closed, so then I found a hotel and I did that a couple of times. And the second time, I was like, this is not what I’m looking for. It just did not have the feel of the hospitality that I want. It felt like we were in a hotel room, you know what I mean, in a hotel conference room.

So I vowed that I would hold no retreats until I found a permanent retreat venue for myself. So I actually started looking for buildings that I could potentially, within a certain driving range of my house, you know, what could I do? And one thing led to another and somebody said, Hey you know, this building might be for sale.

And it was a quilt shop. So I contacted the owners to see if I could see the building and what it was, and the building, the main floor, it’s 135 year old building, I think we’re at now. The first floor is the typical retail and then the second floor was this big open space, ceiling falling down and all I could see was retreat center, right. The only caveat that still is the same problem today is that we don’t have an elevator, but I knew that facility would be wonderful I’d have the retreat center cuz then at that point it started making sense because I’d also been to a quilt shop, retreat center in Oklahoma that my friend owns. And when I saw what she was doing, I’m like, I can so do this. I can handle this. So it just made sense at that point to have the quilt shop on the first floor, retreat center on the second floor, so that it’s one combined location and it gives our retreaters a special treat to be able to come down and purchase things in the store.

[00:26:12] Spencer: Sure. I mean, I think that’s, like kind of best case scenario, right? It’s like you’re at a quilting retreat and you have every possible resource from a quilting standpoint that you could possibly need just downstairs, right? 

[00:26:23] Heidi: Right. 

[00:26:23] Spencer: So you can kind of come and go as you need. Heidi, I’d be curious you know, I imagine that there’s a number of people I, I hear all the time of, you know, I think your story may be unique where you sought out a retreat center and then kind of the quilt shop came and all of this happened at once, but I think more often than not, you have quilt shops that open and then they find a retreat center nearby. Or they’re thinking about it. And that’s something I hear a lot is like that they’re considering expanding into doing retreats. What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about getting into doing, kind of the retreat side of the quilting and sewing industry? 

[00:27:02] Heidi: Well, lots of things. First of all, finding a space that speaks, to again, your customer, defining who your customer is, what you’re wanting to do, what your goal is out of it. Are people gonna have to drive? you know, are you going for the local customer? Cuz I do know there are some shops that have what I would call a retreat center that is just for daytime sewing. And they don’t worry about the sleeping, you know, any of those kinds of arrangements. They really focus on the local customer, just having a place to come, go home and sleep in your own bed.

And I think in larger metropolitan areas, that’s probably a heck of a lot easier to do than where I’m at, but that would be one aspect is, again, to figure out who your customer is and what it is that you are wanting to do. 

I really wanted that getaway. How many men go on a fishing trip or a golfing trip or a snowmobiling trip with their guy friends for two, three days, or, you know, go hunt their turkeys or whatever season it is now. And they’re, you know, they’re gone all day and they’re doing those fun things. Where are women going for that? What are women doing? And not the… obviously women can do all of those things as well, but you know what I’m, yeah, I’m implying is that… 

[00:28:17] Spencer: 100%.

[00:28:18] Heidi: Where are they headed? And to me it’s this kind of a retreat space where you get your girlfriends together and you really focus on that time. You know, this weekend I had a mother and two daughters, and I love it. I love that’s how they’re choosing to spend their time together. So you really have to, I’m gonna say, that’s one piece of advice is to understand who are you going after. I knew that once I got the quilt shop and the retreat center, then I started looking at the statistics of how far would people come, and because of the retreats that I’d held in the hotels as well as the individual, you know, the house, I already knew that some people were willing to drive up to three hours.

[00:29:07] Spencer: Oh my gosh!

[00:29:08] Heidi: Yeah, okay. So that takes me to the state line easily, right? Yeah. Cause it’s three hours to Clinton, two and… a little over two hours to the Minnesota border, two and a half hours to Omaha, you know, two and a half hours probably to the Southern, Iowa border. So all of a sudden I started looking at the numbers of how many women are in this three hour radius and that craft. The statistics are phenomenal because it doesn’t have to be just quilters. I have scrapbookers, I have knitters that come. I mean, we’ve had bunko groups that come, so it’s not just quilters. So your audience has opened up a lot more there as well. 

[00:29:52] Spencer: Yeah, I think that’s really fascinating, like as we’ve kind of talked about defining your target customer and in, in some ways the retreat center has kind of broadened that, right? Like you have your target customer for your quilt shop, but your retreat target is like expansive both in the kind of area and distance in which you would service and the types of people that would come by.

[00:30:14] Heidi: Well, I have to jump in and say, you know, this is where Like Sew really can make things easy for me. So one of the reports I do use on a regular basis is the top customer report. And I can actually go in and search out those top customers. I can even divide versus physical location and web. And so I, as part of a whole different project, had nothing to do with you guys, I was working with somebody else on some information and looking at my top customers, digging into it a little bit. I was very quickly able to identify that really 35 customers make up, I believe it was more than 20% of Really by annual?

[00:31:06] Spencer: Wow! 

[00:31:07] Heidi: And what I discovered was in those top 35, that a lot of them were retreaters of some sort. Okay, so that’s one thing. And they were long armers, there were a couple of them in there. Yes. I mean, I have, I now have… 

[00:31:22] Spencer: …because you have a long arm in your shop, right?

[00:31:23] Heidi: Right, and we rented out. 

[00:31:25] Spencer: Yeah. 

[00:31:25] Heidi: Okay. So we now have retreaters who’ve taken the long arm certification class. So when they retreat, they’re renting the long arm. Yeah. I don’t wanna say the word double dipping, but it is a great way to increase revenue.

[00:31:41] Spencer: Yeah. You’re maximizing it. 

[00:31:43] Heidi: I’m maximizing it, there I’m leveraging it. That’s just get some better words. So that retreater, they’re coming in and they might, you know, they’re paying the retreat fee, but then they’re paying for the hours of rental as well. 

[00:31:56] Spencer: And buying their fabric and backing and buying, you know, thread and…. 

[00:31:59] Heidi: That’s correct. And so, you know, you start looking at those numbers in that report, you can very quickly see how those retreaters make an impact on your business. So, like, I know, I can think of one customer who, she is I think number two on the list of online orders and what’s interesting is she’s down lower on the total number of top customers, but because she repeatedly orders online, once she’s done retreating, it’s jacked her up to the top. So then I can go, all right. So she found us because she retreats. Now I know that she also is a very good customer, not only when she retreats, but when she’s not here, she’s ordering online and we’re shipping it to her. It’s a way to extend those retreaters not just coming just for the retreat, but how can you make them customers on a regular basis.

[00:33:02] Spencer: I think that totally makes sense, like trying to maximize the opportunity and I think the retreat center maybe provides more opportunities to maximize, right. That’s, yeah. There’s some give and take between, you know, the retreat center helps the shop, and the shop helps the retreat center, right? So there’s this symbiosis that exists. 

[00:33:17] Heidi: Well, let’s be realistic. I do not need to restock or purchase large amounts of inventory. To restock my retreat center. You know, my overhead is the original construction, right? It’s like a mortgage. Yeah. So, that’s where my expenses are. Certainly there are things that we do every year. You know, we add this or we change that, or we’ve had to replace the chairs or, you know, so it’s not like there aren’t expenses, but there’s not, like I’m having to go out and buy huge collections of fabric every time a retreat group leaves. Yeah. You know, so just to be able to have a retreat. Does that make sense?

[00:33:57] Spencer: No, sure. From a financial sense like that, right? That, the upfront cost was kind of the brunt of that. 

[00:34:03] Heidi: Right. And so what I always like to look at, and I mean talk about advice for shop owners, your original question, cuz we’ve, I’ll say going this way and going that way, is that to me, you set the retreat price as to the price that you need to make that retreat center work. And I, I have raised my prices the third time, right, we’re right now in the middle. So I announced a price increase in October but anybody who had a retreat booked by December 31st, 2022 holds at the old prices.

Sure. So they won’t see the price increase till 2024. Yeah. Okay. I have to, because unfortunately, they’re not making my heating and cooling bill any cheaper, and the water bill’s not getting any less, you know, all those kinds of things. 

[00:34:52] Spencer: Sure. 

[00:34:53] Heidi: but I set my price and that is that because it is a set thing. and then I give them a discount on the fabric that’s downstairs, right? Because I want that to move out. I need that to get out of there faster and of course they like the benefit, but does that make sense, where that’s how, yeah, that’s how I’ve always thought of it, is that the retreat center is the retreat center and it’s gonna survive if nobody buys a single piece of fabric. It’s like a separate business almost. 

[00:35:23] Spencer: Yeah. Kind of run separately. But there’s still this like togetherness that exists. 

This was so fascinating. I’m excited to kind of have this segment on retreat centers just to like, you know, kind of archive for us, you know, customers and you know, just for quilt shop owners, retailers to go back to.

Heidi, well, we’re kind of up on time here. I do want to say, you know, maybe I’d love to just tell us, you know, where people can find you and, you know, maybe just a little bit about Creative Retailer before we kind of wrap up here. 

[00:35:51] Heidi: All right, well, very good. And we can fill time easily. I know we can. So, obviously you can always reach me at and I give my cell phone out all the time, so I’m gonna give that out just like I do everywhere else. It’s (641) 751-3395. I’m a phone call or a text away. If you text me, just make sure you tell me who you are, so I know that it’s not some random text because I do like to be available. For our retailers and how to help them become better retailers. So Creative Retailer is published six times a year and one of the things I learned when I was participating in Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business school was that you can have 35 different types of retailers sitting next to each other, or business owners, small business owners, not necessarily all retailers, and you’re basically having all of the same type of business questions.

Yes, my widget might be different from your widget. My staff might be a different size than your staff, but at the same time, We have all of those same types of issues. And that’s how I feel like a Creative retailer is. We have curated the articles that we think today are what you need to hear: social media, finance, marketing, websites, hr, inventory, all sorts of things. And we’re curating it down to one publication that you could read in a matter of a couple of hours at the maximum, and hopefully walk away with some tidbits and benefits of running your business better because it is daunting. I mean, I could give you all sorts of people that I follow, but it’s overwhelming to start going down this path to learn more about this and this path and so again, we’re trying to curate it, trying to put it into one…. 

[00:37:45] Spencer: …you’re trying to centralize information…. 

[00:37:47] Heidi: That’s right. 

[00:37:47] Spencer: ….for our retailers. 

[00:37:48] Heidi: That’s right. And then we offer opportunities like our round table discussions. So if you want to meet up with other retailers that you can and we can have some of these deeper discussions online. So it’s just all sorts of things that we’re trying to do. 

[00:38:03] Spencer: Amazing. Thank you so much Heidi. And thank you so much for being on the podcast. I had an incredible time with you today.

[00:38:09] Heidi: Thank you for inviting me. Anytime. You know, I can chat with you. 

[00:38:13] Spencer: Yeah, no doubt. Can we chat for a long time? So thank you so much, Heidi.