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Grand Rapids quilt shop feels brunt of supply shortage

Posted at 6:23 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 09:09:39-04

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Fabric was flying off the shelves at many local craft stores in the beginning of the pandemic for mask making supplies.

Now several of those shops are struggling to get supplies in a timely fashion, some even having to close their doors.

We caught up with Savasana Quilts, a modern quilt boutique who’s lucky to be open now, but say it was a struggle when they had to temporarily close their doors in the past year and now, they’re facing delays and increasing prices.

So we offer fabric and notions and quilting supplies and patterns with kind of a modern take on some of the classic, more traditional styles of quilting. We just have more of a pop of color and some brightness, and we try to stay with the trends,” says Abigail Jansen, Owner of Savasana Quilts.

Savasana Quilts made it easy to add that pop of color and much needed cheer to face masks during the pandemic.

“Solids, we're flying out the door. Black and white specifically sold out almost immediately. And one of the things that happened, I believe, is that once companies started to realize masking is going to be huge. They basically kind of jumped the queue to this in the supply chain and ordered as many kinds of black and white fabric as they could get their hands on,” says Abigail Jansen, Owner of Savasana Quilts.

That’s when the shortages began, an unfortunate circumstance for Savasana Quilts who’d only been open for a little over a year.

“So as an entrepreneur, business owner, just kind of starting from the ground up, that definitely altered our trajectory of growth quite a bit,” says Jansen.

Before she knew it owner Abigail Jansen was forced to close her doors during the shut down in march of 2020, but quickly pivoted her business online, putting in 50 hours a week.

Jansen was finally able to open her doors back up in July but is continuing to experience those bumps in the supply chain.

“So because of the increased demand for fabric for mask making, even though they're just small bits of fabric, basically, it has really driven up the demand, and it has outpaced the supply,” says Jansen.

That led to increased prices, in fact, Jansen tells us that recently one of her fabric manufacturers cost of raw cotton has increased by about 30%.

“Now thankfully, my prices, what I have to pay is not going up quite that much. Some of the stuff I've already got orders in for and anything I'm ordering from here on out is going to be a good 10% higher on my end, which I have to kind of figure out how to balance that out. So I can stay open,” says Jansen.

However, delays are just making things more difficult.

”When things do ship, they kind of tend to bottleneck and then come out. So it has created a big challenge for cash flow management. All of a sudden, I have two or three months worth of ordering that has shipped within the span of two weeks,” says Jansen.

Which is worrisome for Jansen as she's doing everything she can to keep her doors open and continue and serve the community.

“It's hard to figure out how to balance, wanting to maintain market share and kind of our crafting community and wanting to be fair to the customers, but also trying to balance that with the fact that I do have to pay rent, I do have to pay the utilities. So I want to be welcoming and open and supportive to the creative community. But there's also a balance there because it is expensive to have a retail space,” says Jansen.

Abigail tells us the good that came out of this was growing her online presence and reaching new people and wanted us to remind everyone to continue to shop local businesses online, and just because they’re in town and smaller doesn't mean they won’t be online.