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A Great Notion, Sewing Supply LTD.

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Vancouver Sewing Blog

Think chain stores are cheaper than an independent retailer? Think again.

March 13, 2014

Susan from A Great Notion

My name is Susan and I have been employed at A Great Notion for just about 3 and a half years. I have an excellent knowledge of the fabrics and notions we sell as well as our sewing machines. My main goal is to offer the best customer service I can and to make the most of your visit to the store. I pride myself in helping with good fabric selection and finding that one last fabric you need for your quilt. I also have a great knowledge of the notions we sell to make your sewing/quilting/embroidery project a breeze. My main love has always been in garment sewing and more recently home décor projects. Over the last few years I have learned to quilt and although I like the smaller projects, I am ready to take on a larger challenge.

I am writing this blog as I hear quite often about the other place, our competition and their great prices. I spent some time at my local fabric store (a Canadian chain), recorded some prices, looked at the quality of their product and listened for the service given. I must say not once while I was in there and taking tons of notes was I asked if I needed any help. Anyone that knows me knows I ask if you need help within the first 10 seconds of you being in the shop. I also found their quilting cottons to be of a lesser quality, but I also found some great deals on fabrics as long as I was a member. There are lots of fabrics that we do not sell and I do occasionally have to shop at other places. If you are looking for everyday sewing and quilting notions and good quality cottons then I think our store has it all. I have attached a chart showing some comparison pricing.

Comparison Prices Chart


The choice is yours: Some things will be cheaper if you shop around and are willing to pay a membership fee, but for all your quilting needs at a GREAT price with GREAT service, A Great Notion is the place to shop.


  1. Comment by Terry — March 13, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

    This is so true and one of the main reason why I don’t have a membership at “The other Place”. I have always loved the staff and service from AGN over the years that I shop there. Supporting an independent is so very important. I also find AGN has much more to offer then “The other place”.

  2. Comment by Christine — March 13, 2014 @ 11:36 pm

    I find “the competitor” horrifically expensive for some things. A small board for rotary cutting and pressing was $67.50 at my local “competitor” store and just over $30 at A Great Notion. Wish I lived closer… I’m in Winnipeg and have to mail order. Still a great place to shop! :)

  3. Comment by admin — March 14, 2014 @ 12:04 am

    Thanks for the support, Terry! We’re glad you love the service.

  4. Comment by admin — March 14, 2014 @ 12:05 am

    Thanks, Christine!!

  5. Comment by Connie, in Alberta — March 14, 2014 @ 12:21 am

    It is just too regrettable that I live out of province. I live 3 hours away from the nearest centre where “The chain store” is. I go in once in a while when our family/household needs are such to warrant a day trip, but usually I end up not getting anything at “that” place.; poor service (when any) and poor quality are just discouraging. I usually build my list of “needs” and wait till you have a promotion to place an order. Shipping fees are the penalty we pay for quality and service!!! It is worth it, however!

  6. Comment by Kelly — March 14, 2014 @ 1:11 am

    I would definitely say AGN has the best service. I’m new to the whole world of quilting and sewing and no one at the other fabric store has ever offered to help me, or explain how things work. And actually it is like pulling teeth to even get someone to cut your fabric for you! So glad I found AGN, you guys have explained so much to me and I appreciate it!

  7. Comment by admin — March 14, 2014 @ 4:16 am

    Thanks, Connie! I’m glad we are there for you when the “chain store” isn’t!

  8. Comment by admin — March 14, 2014 @ 4:16 am

    Lol, I know that feeling at the “other” store! I’m glad you found us too. :)

  9. Comment by Anne — March 14, 2014 @ 4:30 am

    Hi AGN. Just want to know when I can help you open a franchise here. The chain store left town and all we have now is a really junkie impersonation of a fabric/mill end warehouse type business. Woodstock is growing by leaps and bounds as the Toyota car plant opened up shop here awhile ago. Lots of quilters and dressmakers and upholstery users looking for notions and good quality fabrics. We all have to travel at least an hour to get to “they who can’t be named.” Wish you were here!

  10. Comment by admin — March 14, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

    Thank you all for your comments about our service here at A Great Notion. As a business, we are only as good as our staff, and I’m proud to say that here at A Great Notion we have great staff, all of whom have a passion for sewing and quilting and love sharing their expertise. I’m grateful for both the great staff and the great customers we have – and it’s really nice to feel appreciated. Not sure if I could keep up with having stores all across the country though as we’re pretty busy with the two we have here along with the mail order operation! I feel your pain Anne – it seems like many fabric stores have closed in the last few years. And I do understand about the added expense of shipping charges for mail order shopping. It seems like every time we turn around, we’re getting news of another rate increase from Canada Post.
    Thanks again,

  11. Comment by Dalle Proft — March 14, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

    I have known this for years. I live 5 min. from this chain, and 35 min. from AGN. If I need something in a hurry I jump in the car and drive the 35 the Abbotsford store. I’m usually frazzled by the time I get there, but by the time I leave I’m in a great mood.Maybe this is a good time to say Thank You to all the staff. Sometimes we forget to do this.

  12. Comment by MagdaDunin — March 14, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

    Good for you Susan….so true…..I am stuck in a town with only the chain store…. Thanks m

  13. Comment by Karla — March 14, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

    Having a good idea who the “other store” is has me saying please don’t judge all the stores in that chain the same. I worked for one of them in a small town and can honestly say our service was well above and far beyond what I have experienced at the same chain in bigger cities. I love AGN too, but will continue to support the “other store” where I used to work. This store is a franchise and as such brings in a lot of fabric not carried by the parent company and are the same quality as the other quilt shops I’ve been to and when there is a sale, my membership fee is more than paid for in the savings I get. That said, I try to spread my money around and go to the independent stores too. In fact my quilting machine is from AGN and I would highly recommend that anyone buy a machine there. Great service and I got to “tire kick” before I made up my mind.

  14. Comment by Marlene — March 14, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

    I too have known this for years and always explain these differences to new quilters, particularly the difference in fabric quality. I live on Vancouver Island so online ordering is my method with Great Notion and so worth the savings even with shipping!

  15. Comment by Eugenia Read — March 16, 2014 @ 7:18 am

    I love the fast and friendly service at AGN compared to “The Other Place” I have shopped at and have a membership with. One of my previous visits to “The Other Place” it was rudely suggested I go to a quilting store to find what I need for quilting tools. On another visit to that same place, I was sold a piece of hospital bed sheet (on final sale) when I asked for white cotton fabric. I was appalled to find the hospital name stamped in the corner. A lesson learned for sure. I have cancelled my membership with them and now quit shopping there. AGN gets my business from now on.

  16. Comment by Marlene — March 17, 2014 @ 4:00 am

    I live in the prairies and I have ordered from your website a few times to get notions I can’t get here. I have noticed that the only time you have a good sale is for locals, not on-line. By the time I pay for shipping, sometimes it isn’t worth it for me. My membership at the ‘other store’ saves me more money.

  17. Comment by Marlene — March 18, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

    Also your total for the ‘other store’ is incorrect. If you are going to add the membership fee, then take a discount off for the items you have in the basket. If you are going to do a comparison, then do it properly.

  18. Comment by evelyn — March 19, 2014 @ 1:48 am

    Having just read your blog I am totally appalled by your
    comments. I have been a customer at both your establishment and the other store for many years and have received good service and been very happy with the pricing. You fail to mention that the other place does not charge you for a menbership every time you go there and very often have greater than 50% sales on the goods you mentioned as well as many other products they carry. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that at times i have asked the staff at the other place for a quilting product they do not carry or the best place to have my sewing machine serviced and they have recommended a great notion company. I am pretty sure that when i bring this blog to their attention they wil be very disappointed in your business tactics just as I am and that as a company you would have allowed a member of your staff write such a blog.

  19. Comment by admin — March 20, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

    Evenlyn, I am glad that you have been happy with the “other” store as everyone deserves to receive great customer service, and like them, we often refer customers to them for items we don’t carry. We decided to write this post based on the feedback we regularly receive from customers in the store. I’m not sure why our “business tactics” are so disappointing: we have taken actual pricing and an actual situation where there was no customer service given and reported it as it happened. To me, I think that their business tactics of marking products way above the MSRP just so they can put them on sale is disappointing.

  20. Comment by admin — March 20, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

    Marlene, I have double checked the totals and they are correct. We took a blanket 20% off everything in their “cart” which for the items listed is being generous because many of the items were not on sale at the time of comparison. We often have the same sales online as in-store, but you are correct, sometimes they specials are different. Thank you for the feedback – I will see what I can do about a good special on the website in the near future! I hear you on the shipping. I wish it was less expensive too. We subsidize the shipping cost as much as we can (what the customer pays is less than what we pay Canada Post), but unfortunately we can’t afford to mark it down any lower.

  21. Comment by Kris — March 24, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

    Thank you for this review! It’s time the little guys make a stand! I have worked for the “other” chain store and I can say the mark up on their fabric is horrible and the quality is also terrible in most cases. The customer service is usually bad and yes they have good sales, but good luck getting the fabric you want! It’s either sold out or was never brought in. Most stores are extremely disorganized and look messy and trashy. Granted not all locations of the chain store are the same, franchise locations are usually better run and there are some chain stores that have excellent staff and are well stocked. But they seem to be a dwindling.
    I disagree with some of the above comments, I have been frustrated more often then not when it comes to finding common fabrics at the chain store, or quality fabrics and notions. I must say AGN is one of the best and easiest online fabric and notion shopping experiences I have had and I will continue to shop here instead of the chain store, where the customer doesn’t really matter! Thank you for your blog! I hope this does make it to the head office of the chain store so they can finally see that customers have a better choice and they need to clean up their act to compete instead of acting like a monopoly!

  22. Comment by Lynn — March 26, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

    Noticed lots of positive comments about the service @AGN. Several of my friends have stopped going to AGN because the service is both very unfriendly & uninterested. I agree and have not visited for over a year. When I did go to AGN I always expected to pay “top dollar”. I’m a Pfaff user and AGN is not helpful.

  23. Comment by admin — March 27, 2014 @ 2:57 am

    Lynn, I’m really sorry to hear that you had unfriendly service, but THANK YOU for taking the time to give us this feedback. It is really important to us to give the best customer service we can and I hope that based on all the positive feedback we’ve had here you’ll give us another shot sometime so that we can give you that service. As for helping with Pfaff, you might try our Abbotsford store as they are an authorized Pfaff dealer and have had the proper training on Pfaff machines and are authorized to sell genuine Pfaff parts and accessories. Best regards, Jenny.

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