Is it really possible to buy good quality fabrics at 50% off or better?
The surprising answer is Yes!
My background includes 15 years as the owner of a furniture manufacturing company.
I have purchased thousands of yards of fabrics from dozens of sources.
I have no association or relationship with any company selling fabrics.
Do you really “get what you pay for” when buying fabrics?
In many (or most) cases, the answer is “No!”
For example, low-cost polyester and microfiber fabrics are often more durable and easier to clean than expensive fabrics costing far more.
A surprisingly high percentage of a fabric’s cost is determined by factors that have nothing to do with quality or durability.
One of the biggest of these cost factors is whether the fabric has been discontinued.
Thousands of discontinued fabrics are available for 50% – 90% off their original prices.
Fabric mills generate thousands of different patterns and colors each year.
Most never become big sellers.
Even the best eventually slow down and wind up as closeouts.
Of course, not everyone pays full price for current fabric designs.
Here is a real life example of a fabric with a well-known designer label that I used to buy for my furniture manufacturing company.
This fabric was available in about a dozen different colors.
Two of those colors sold well for me, two others produced some sales.
The retail price to the general public was $80 per yard.
That same $80/yd. fabric was also available at other pricing tiers.
Professional decorators and interior designers received a 50% off discount – $40 per yard.
Manufacturers who could buy full 50 yard rolls paid $15 per yard.
Larger manufacturers and wholesalers who purchase hundreds (or thousands) of yards paid even less.
Even at these deeply discounted prices, the fabric is highly profitable.
The high profit margin is needed to offset the cost of stocking huge amounts of not-yet-sold fabrics.
New fabric introductions do not always catch on with retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.
Even when a new fabric is a huge success, only a few colors will be big winners.
Every fabric, whether it was a total flop or a big seller, is eventually discontinued.
Remaining fabric stocks at the mills and manufacturers become closeouts.
Closeout fabrics are first offered to previous customers at reduced prices.
Discount retailers and wholesale closeout specialists are next in line.
Large discount wholesalers and retailers may pay only $1 – $2 per yard for closed out fabrics.
Closeout purchasers ship many of these cheap fabrics overseas.
Discount retailers resell these discontinued fabrics to the general public.
Closeout fabrics originate from two primary sources.
Mills do not have space to store slow-selling discontinued fabrics.
They need to clear space as quickly as possible to make room for new fabric introductions.
Most mills have pre-arranged deals with large closeout wholesalers (or large discount retailers) who purchase truckload quantities.
Partial rolls (less than 50 yards) may be sold for as little as 50 cents per yard regardless of the fabric’s initial selling price.
Full rolls of closed out high-volume fabrics are often sold for $1 – $2 per yard.
Expensive fabrics, made in limited quantities, may be closed out at higher prices.
These higher priced “designer” fabrics still sell at steep discounts (50% or more) from the original wholesale pricing.
Mills clear out thousands of yards of excess fabric several times each year.
Manufacturers are another source of closeout fabrics.
Retailers are constantly changing fabric selections for furniture in their showrooms and websites.
When retailers change fabrics, manufacturers are often stuck with unsold inventory.
Left-over fabrics, that have been discontinued by retailers, may get sold to close-out buyers, even if the fabric is still being made by the mill.
The $80/yd. fabric I referenced at the beginning of this article may eventually be sold to closeout purchasers for $2 per yd. or less.
Discount fabric retailers buy closed-out discontinued fabrics.
The discontinued fabrics are then offered to the public.
When the fabrics are new, the $80 per yard fabric may offered to the public for $20 – $40 per yard (50 – 75% off the original retail price.)
If the fabric does not sell quickly, the price will be reduced.
Eventually, this $80 fabric may be offered to the public at $10/yd. or even less.
Even at 90% off the original $80 retail price ($8/yd.) the discount fabric retailer is making a substantial profit margin.
Discontinued specialty fabrics are made in smaller quantities.
These may be sold to closeout purchasers for prices that are higher than $2 per yard, but there will still be a very steep discount.
Regardless of the original price, closeout fabrics are a commodity that needs to be cleared out and disposed of rapidly.
Online fabric discounters also need to clear warehouse racks to make room for constantly arriving new fabrics.
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