Twenty-four years ago, Debby Luttrell had a problem. In a town of 1,895 residents far from major cities, her store sold primo fabric at $7.99-a-yard. For good-enough versions, Walmart charged just $4.99. She surveyed her empty parking lot and cashed out the day’s receipts: $35.
Since the people in her tiny town wouldn’t frequent her store, Luttrell needed to find other customers--so with money running out, she decided to reinvent her sleepy small business. First, she traveled around Texas to quilt shows, gathering postal addresses from potential customers and mailing them newsletters announcing classes at Stitchin’ Heaven taught by quilting celebrities. Then, since her store could only fit 10 people at a time, she started hosting retreats by renting out a nearby campground when it wasn’t in use. The cost was low, because the retreats and classes were never meant to make money.
Today, Luttrell’s quilt supply store Stitchin’ Heaven is a 60-employee company with $5 million in annual sales and fans who travel thousands of miles to take classes and commune with fellow “piecing” enthusiasts. Even as many brick-and-mortar stores are on the ropes, the Quitman, Texas-based company is demonstrating just how vibrant retail can be. And the way it got there is a master class in the wooing, winning, and retention of customers.
Read the full story to learn how this small-town Texas quilt shop became a nationwide destination with a sizable following, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.