In an unstable economy, most anyone you ask would agree that it’s important to support our local businesses.
Specialty shops can have an especially hard time as folks cut back on spending for hobbies and special treats. The Roanoke chapter of the American Sewing Guild has found its own way of showing support for the shops in their niche with the Shop Hop.
The Shop Hop is a September shopping event held in celebration of National Sewing Month. During this weekend-long event, members of the sewing guild and the general public are encouraged to visit a select group of stores that cater to the needs of sewers and quilters and advertise in the guild’s newsletter.
“This is all for the purpose of promoting and supporting the retailers who support us,” Sally Rodgers, an organizer of the event, explained.
The Hop took place Sept. 14-15 and saw 145 participants — almost a 50 percent increase over 2011.
How it works
Shoppers are asked to visit as many shops as they can during the Hop. At each location, they receive a pass to be signed or stamped by that shop. The passes are turned in at the last stop by the shopper and then entered to win prize baskets from the guild.
Each participating shop is asked to donate five items to be included in the prize baskets, which is the only cost for the retailers to participate. The guild also throws in a couple of gift cards for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. This year, the guild had six participating shops: The Quilting Connection, Goodwill stores, Alpine Sewing Machine Co., Old Trinity Schoolhouse Quilt Shop, Quilting Essentials and Creative Quilting.
“They are always thrilled to participate,” Lois Atkins, another organizer of the event, said.
Though shoppers must visit each shop in order to be eligible for a prize, they don’t have to buy anything. However, Rodgers and Atkins agreed that most people do; some even stop by the shops multiple times within the weekend.
This was the third year of the event. Atkins and Rodgers agreed that the numbers have continued to grow each year and attribute a large amount of this year’s growth to the participating shops, who sent a notice about the event to their email lists.
Pat Langheim of Quilting Essentials explained that the surrounding guilds come to participate in the event as well. Rodgers and Atkins collected cards from shoppers who came from Wytheville, Buena Vista, Martinsville and in one case even from Denver.
“It’s a wonderful, positive event, we just have the best time,” Langheim said. “I think it introduces us to many new people who may not consider your store. Once they get in here and find our fabric we seem to have a lot of repeat business.”
In addition to the local Shop Hop, the guild also organizes an Out of Town Shop Hop, which took place from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15 this year.
During this members-only event, guild members are encouraged to visit fabric, sewing and quilting retailers that are within a day’s drive. The rules for this Hop differ slightly. Shoppers get an extended period to shop, must make one or more purchases and get an entry for each shop they visit. Yearly dues for the sewing guild, which are necessary to participate in this event, are $50 initially and $45 to renew.
“The idea is to just get in the shops,” Rodgers said. “It’s really to our benefit to have these people here.”
For retailers and shoppers alike, the Shop Hop has proven to be a fun and profitable event to support local businesses.
Said Atkins, “This is an opportunity to become aware of what the Roanoke Valley has to offer. One of our goals is to try to maintain the businesses we have.”
For more information about the Roanoke Chapter of the American Sewing Guild and the Shop Hop, visit www.asgroanoke.org.