Dotty, my longtime customer who came to Vero twice last year and now again this year for private assistance with stitching canvases from her various classes throughout the country, asked today what I would rather sell in the shop--canvases, fibers, finishing?
Most shops do finishing as a loss leader. It is impossible to get a keystone (the usual markup in retail) for finishing. It's expensive as it is, but if you keystoned no one could afford it. But shops must provide finishing. If you don't have a finisher for an item, you can't sell the canvases for that item. That is the reality of finishing. Needle Nicely has over 20 finishers for various items. I really wish I could teach customers how to finish many of the items they stitch. But my customers would rather be needlepointing than finishing their Christmas ornaments or appliqued items on tote bags or Lee's leather luggage tags...you get the idea. Sigh! So I, myself, do the finishing of the appliqued items on tote bags and the lining on purse flaps or the lining on stitch 'n zips or the Lee's leather products. Reluctantly, but I do it, because if I don't, I can't sell the item; or, if I send it to a distant finisher the cost will be exorbitant.
I love to sell the fibers I stock. However, the inventory of fibers is finite and selling them means re-ordering. That's great, except you want a large enough order to justify the shipping cost. I purchase my DMC perle cotton from a vendor who ships free of charge to get an edge over his competitors. So I try to add to my perle orders things like stretcher bars, scissors, brass tacks, etc., because the shipping is free.
My favorite category of sale is Canvases! I've already paid for them and I don't need to reorder except when they are for a shop model. Needle Nicely has a large canvas inventory and I want to scream at customers: Buy a canvas, buy 2 canvases, please, please, please! Yes, I have a design studio, but I'd rather sell you a belt from my French laundry basket of over 400 canvases than paint a special design for you. And, yes, I have over 150 Christmas stocking canvases in stock--could you please like one of them rather than asking me to order one from a catalog?