No pictures today and no instructions, just encouragement. If you make cards and/or scrapbook, knit, or quilt, you should consider going on an organized shop hop. I suspect other hobbies may do this also but these are my areas of familiarity.
Yesterday was my third experience with a yarn shop hop. One of the stops led to another hop that I will do this coming Friday for card making and related paper crafts. I don't recall how many quilt shop hops I've done, but more than a dozen over many years.
What is a shop hop and how does it work?
A number of stores of the same genre pick a day or pair of days to feature the hop. They prepare special sales and goodie bags to lure in new customers. A "passport" is either purchased for a nominal fee or given at the first shop. With a purchased passport, you have it stamped or punched at each store. When you have visited all of the participating stores (or consider yourself done whatever the number of shops visited), you turn in your passport. Rules will vary as to who is eligible for grand prizes in these events. Sometimes all stores must be visited. Yesterday's hop required six out of eight. A grand prize could be a gift basket of products or gift cards for some or all of the shops.
Quilt shop hops often have drawings at each store, sometimes hourly for smaller prizes. At no cost, this will keep shoppers in the store for another 15 minutes if they know the drawing is coming up. That is good business.
If the shop hop passports are not free, goodie bags (in my experience) are given to everyone with a passport when they check in. Yesterday's yarn shop hop had free passports but in order to get them stamped, a $15 purchase was necessary and then the store gave you a goodie bag. Most stores have mini muffins, cookies or candy out for the shop hoppers. Some have coffee ready, others offer bottled water.
The purpose of these hops are to get people into their stores who might not normally travel the extra 10 miles to visit them or perhaps had no idea the store existed. From a customer's point of view, the fun of this is seeing what stores are offering that your local yarn, fabric or paper store does not. No one store is ever going to carry everything, there are too many manufacturers in each of these markets.
The best part for me has always been seeing sample projects. You may have seen an item online or in a package numerous times and passed it up because it didn't grab you. When that project is on display in a better color combination or with an added bit of something, you can't believe you walked past it all this time.
I went on yesterday's hop with three friends. It was nice to travel together and compare notes. My advice to would be shop hoppers is to keep your eyes and ears open for these events. Check store newsletters, calendars and ask at the check out if the store you usually visit ever participates in shop hops. Search online using "shop hop", your area of interest and your state. Plan your route so that aren't backtracking on your drive and at the risk of sounding like an old lady, wear comfortable shoes.
My advice to store owners, should any of them find this blog entry, is to update your websites and check that features actually work. I am ok with shops that don't have webpages but I am not alone in being frustrated over being told the info is on their website when it clearly is NOT, or to be told for further information, sign up for their newsletter but the link is broken. Checking this is not unlike proof-reading. Knowing what is supposed to be there and what you assume actually works is sometimes just not there and a fresh pair of eyes should check.
One other piece of advice for stores: If you shop is hard to see from the highway, make a mention on your website that will be helpful to a new shopper.
Support your local stores, have fun shopping and create something wonderful!