When one of our local quilt shop owners announced recently that she was looking to sell her business by the end of the summer, two of her staffers decided to see if they could find a way to keep the popular shop open. Just recently, they set up a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign to help purchase the shop. It’s a bold move, and one that’s been somewhat confusing to area quilters.
Typically, they’ve been asking what fundraising venues like Kickstarter.com or Indiegogo.com have to do with our local sewing crafts. Why should they contribute to save one shop when there are several great stores in our area? All good questions, especially when hard-earned $$$ are exchanging hands.
As it turns out, crowd-sourced fundraising campaigns are a rising trend, especially in challenging economic times when funds from grant writing have dried up and banks are slow to approve start-up loans for new businesses. Even though these crowd-sourced fundraising campaigns can be hard to get a fix on, they can significantly empower consumers by saving a much-loved resource from extinction or helping finance a brave new venture.
Just a few months ago, an email campaign saved the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles from sudden closure and bought the museum valuable time to improve its capital-raising efforts. A relative newbie on newsstands, Generation Q, raised capital via a successful Kickstarter campaign to finance its migration from an online to a print magazine, while the team behind the nine-part documentary, Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics, which Darra wrote about in an earlier post, helped fund the development and publication of a companion discussion guide through a Kickstarter campaign as well.
If you run across a crowd-sourced fundraising appeal and are considering a donation, be sure to do your research first. Visit the crowd-sourcing site (Kickstarter or Indiegogo.com, for example) and check its operating policies. It’s important that you do this in addition to visiting the fundraiser’s site. When you’re clear on the operating policy of the crowd-sourcing agency—and they are all different—carefully review the fundraiser’s proposal, and evaluate for yourself the completeness and worthiness of the request.
Keeping Quilting Alive and Thriving
Here’s my personal take: every quilt or craft shop closure (add bookstores too) makes me sad. It’s not just the loss of a creative haven; it’s the broader effect of that ending to micro and home-based businesses. When a quilt shop shutters, quilting teachers, pattern designers, long-armers, custom sewers, and other crafters/artists who connect to clients and establish business relationships within the shop’s radius lose a valuable point of contact.
I’m an advocate of smaller independent shops and homegrown businesses because they bring far more to their communities than they take out—they have a stake in the well-being of the neighborhoods and they employ locals, plus they are unique representations of their owners’ personalities and tastes. Viva quilt stores and their intrepid shopkeepers!
Attention San Francisco Bay Area quilters: click here if you want to learn more about the campaign to save a Bay Area quilt shop.