This is the first time in over a year that I've had a chance to stop in to see what's happening here at TQS. By way of introduction, I'd like to tell you my name is Ramona Moreland, and I own a quilt shop, Chester County Quilting. I was among the first dozen owners to post my shop here on the TQS three yers ago when I first opened. I'm tech-savvy, and recommended this website to many of my customers when it first when live. Now, since my business has grown, I don't have the time to spend cruising online forums like I used to, but I would love to share my experiences as a shop owner who has done exactly what each of you has mentioned in this thread:
1. Very few of my quilting customers have even heard of TQS, let alone been here. You would be very surprised at how advertising-resistant many people are.
2. The few customers who have visited TQS have not returned because having full access to this website costs money that they'd rather spend on fabric and notions. I know each of you (and Ricky and Alex, too) think that the subscription price is worth every penny, but not everyone is in agreement. This is even more true in today's tight economy.
3. Others who did pay at first have let their subscriptions drop, myself included. Now I've discovered that I can't search the shop listing to make sure I'm still listed. That's not cool! So, what use is the search function if you have to pay first? There are plenty of free sites out there.
4. I have NEVER had a customer - in three years! - come into my shop and tell me that they found me through TQS. Not once! And trust me, I ask all the time how people have found out about my shop. I've added my shop name and info to literally dozens of websites all over the internet - for free! I target the local guilds directly. I pay to advertise (successfully) in Quilter's Newsletter and direct mail via my own shop newletter. However, word of mouth is by far and away the most vaulable advertising anyone could hope for, trust me! Even my local newspaper was a bust.
Now, knowing what you know from my shop owners' perspective, how much more time and money would you continue to devote to the TQS advertising angle, or any other avenue that obviously isn't working?
I hope I don't sound negative. I'm hoping you would like to hear a shop owners' side to the comments made in this thread. The bottom line - when you realize something isn't working for you, you eventually need to move on. Ladies, have a great day. I'm off to cut 160 kits... Did I mention I love owning a quilt shop????