Heather Ross, Fabric Shopping, Google, and 15 minutes…

March 8, 2009 at 2:51 am 12 comments

…or how to spend less (theoretically so that you can buy more.)

I’m a notorious stasher. It’s pretty well known amongst my friends that I collect certain things with an uncompromising passion (ie obsession.). Stamps, yarn, paper, and fabric… I have tons of it all. I know I’ll get around to using it eventually. In the meantime, it helps insulate my house which reduces energy costs, right? *nudge*

Since I’m not made of money, I’ve had to become a pretty savvy shopper to keep me in excessive supply. I almost never pay retail for anything and when I do, it’s only after I’ve done a lot of research to make sure I can’t find it cheaper elsewhere.

Thanks to online shopping, we’ve got stores from across the country (and around the globe) available to us. I’m a big fan of shopping locally and supporting your town’s craft stores. You can find great deals in the sale sections and with coupons and you should take advantage of those when you can. But barring local deals, the internet is a shopper heaven…and hell considering the sheer amount of info out there. But it’s often worth the effort.

For example, Heather Ross recently announced that she will not be releasing new designs in the near future and existing lines will not be reprinted. Suddenly her fabrics (which were already in high demand) are instant collectibles. But what does that really mean? It means some sellers are raising their prices from sale/retail to collectible/rare prices. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay that.
none none none none

The Fabric Shopper, which is an absolute favorite site of mine, is running a little piece on finding some of Heather’s fabrics. (What’s that, you didn’t know about The Fabric Shopper?! Quick…subscribe to their feed asap! It’s awesome.)
West Hill Article Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries Article

They’ve done a great job of finding the fabric for you on Etsy and other major online sellers. But as I started cruising those links (and I won’t list any specific stores here to protect the “innocent”) I realized that there was some definite supply-and-demand pricing going on. A yard for one pattern was listed for $35! Fat quarters are being listed for $13 and $15. I, personally, am not willing to pay that much…especially when 15 minutes of my time will suss out everything I want for more reasonable prices. And I had to find more reasonable prices since Ross is one of my favorite designers and I have to get my hot little fingers on some of that fabric before it’s gone gone gone! 🙂

Here’s where Google comes in. Through my day job, I have a solid knowledge of search engine practices. And here’s the thing…sometimes you have to go deeper than page 3 of the search results. Corporations pay companies like mine a lot of money to help them figure out how to optimize their website so that it appears on the first page of search results on Google. And there’s a business reason why. Studies show, clicks are maxmized from that first page and that most people don’t dig into the results more deeply than the 3rd page.

But for bargain hunters, there’s treasure to be found beyond page 3. Small retailers don’t have the website build/taxonomy know-how or website traffic to get their pages on those first results pages. But they have the product, and they have it at good prices. Sure, their site may not be flashy or pretty…but who cares?

I spent 15 minutes searching through Google results for “‘Heather Ross’ fabric” and I went through the results up to the 20th (!) page of results. But what did that yield? I found Heather Ross prints I didn’t find on Etsy or ebay. I found prints listed in the sale section of stores for 1/2 off retail (and that’s for yardage going for premium prices on Etsy sellers and on Ebay.) Sure, it took some digging on the various websites…but when an Etsy seller lists a fat quarter for $13 and I find a yard of it for $8.95 it’s worth it to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Etsy and eBay fan…especially Etsy. I find great bargains there all of the time. But the Heather Ross example is a great instance where Etsy/eBay are not going to yield your best deals or even your best selection.

You may be asking “What’s your point?!” by now. My point is – I hate spending more than I need to and in today’s economic times, I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can save a little money but still fuel your craft habit too. The Heather Ross example is just a single example. Dig deeper in search results and you’ll find a plethora of buried bargains for anything you want to buy.

And to save you some time…here are the prime links I found for Heather Ross’ Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries and West Hill collections. You can often find pieces of her other lines at these stores too…but I focused on the two previously mentioned lines. Happy shopping!
On Board Fabrics 1
On Board Fabrics 2
Sew Mama Sew
Crafters Vision (search for Heather Ross)
Quilt Home
(update 4/6/09 – After a couple of reports from you, I’ve removed Around the Block from this list as it appears they are out of business but still taking orders. Grrr. Thanks for keeping me informed everyone!)
Shop Crafty Planet
Allegro Fabrics

Entry filed under: Commentary, Crafty, Sewing, Stash.

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarah G  |  March 8, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    You’ll have to check out our new website. We offer a daily deal that CAN NOT be beat!! It’s pretty crazy, really. But we have fun in the process!! 🙂 Thanks for the links on all these other sites! They are great….Now I have to figure out how to STOP buying things that are great deals too!!

    Have a great weekend.

  • 2. Stephanie  |  March 8, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    I totally agree about how you shop. I hardly ever buy retail price either. I look and look and just build up whatever stash I am working on that minute through sales. It’s so rewarding to find something awesome for such cheap/reasonable prices.

  • 3. Kelly  |  March 12, 2009 at 11:24 am

    thank you thank you thank you!

  • 4. sarah  |  March 18, 2009 at 4:17 am

    I placed an order with “around the block” about a month ago I recieved a conformation but never a shippment notification but they also never charged me. I have called them many times and never got so much as an answering machine.. not sure they are in business anymore. Has anyone else had luck there?

  • 5. Melanie O  |  March 28, 2009 at 4:28 am

    (Hi, this is Melanie from The Fabric Shopper) Great post, thanks for pointing this out! I usually check all the shops in my directory when putting together the “Where To Find” posts. I don’t normally Google the fabric because I find so many repeats. I never thought to check beyond page 3, but have started now (due to this post!) and I found 3 more sources for my latest “Where To Find” post (Punchy Pique). Interestingly, some of the shops you have listed I checked and didn’t find the fabric. It seems that Google is better at finding fabrics in those shops than their own search functions! I will be updating my post with your information and please always feel free to comment on posts with additional sources anytime you’d like.

  • 6. Mandy  |  March 30, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Oh thank you for the tip. My Hubby’s 5 day working week has just been cut to 3 days! I have to spend less, but I also have to sew to stay sane.

  • 7. jacquie  |  April 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    i just wanted to let you know that around the block fabrics is out of business, yet still taking orders…they ARE NOT ethical…will take your money and not send you fabric.

  • 8. jacquie  |  April 5, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    oooh, sorry…the other sites are great and don’t you hate those sellers that are taking advantage with outrageous prices for rare fabric.

  • 9. Sara  |  April 13, 2009 at 12:23 am

    I totally agree–I hate paying retail for anything. I seriously can’t do it, especially for fabric (because I’m a hoarder).

    Thanks for the great search engine tips!

  • 10. Andrea  |  April 13, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Just wanted to add a note about Around the Block Fabric. I placed an order from them after reading about them in your post and seeing the low price on Heather Ross fabrics. My package arrived today, about 2 weeks after the order.

  • 11. neaplevaw  |  July 8, 2010 at 3:50 am

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  • 12. SUSAN FORMAN  |  October 21, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Although this post is over a year old, I just read it. Thank you for all the great leads on finding discounts. Oh MyGosh, I never knew about THE FABRIC SHOPPER, THANK YOU!! I am also one who refuses to buy anything full price and with fabric being my obsession on a very tight budget, I will be following your advice.


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