Sewing Sweat-Shops

sweat shopDear Andy:
I have read some of your responses to people who are considering opening a fabric store. Your comments are very honest and realistic. I understand that many people (mostly women) have found they have better things to do than sew. However, I believe there are a minority of people out there who believe they have nothing better to do than to sew.
In a small mall in Carrboro, North Carolina there is a fabric store that seems to be doing quite well. (At least they have been there for some time.) Most of the fibers are natural but not overly expensive. I have bought several things there and love the store.
I have moved from the area to Charleston, South Carolina and would like to start a similar shop. My idea at this time is a niche market of exclusive fabric from all over the world. I would like to start and bricks and mortar store, albeit a small one. I am in a position to work for at least two years without any income for myself.
I have tried to find out how to import fabrics through search engines without much success. Can you offer any suggestions or advice? I would love to talk to people who have similar shops throughout the country. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Dear Lynn: It sounds like you have a good plan. You may want to consider both a retail shop and a small online business together. Consider joining the Home Sewing Association at www.sewing.org. They produce two fabric shows a year that you should attend. Also, visit http://www.apparel-graphic-design.com/fabric-trade-shows.html to learn about their fabric shows. One just ended yesterday at New York’s Javits Center. It had many suppliers of just the fabric you seek. Spend some time learning the market, before spending your money. Good Luck, Andy

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