Twelve years ago I decided to open a yarn shop. I never had a burning ambition to do it, but the idea came after I experienced poor customer service in two shops that I visited. I kept thinking about how it could be different and be a great experience for the customer. It only took me a few weeks to find premises and another couple of months to get the shop ready, then the fun began! I quickly realised how important a yarn shop could be, not just because of the lovely yarns and patterns they sell, but how the advice given to a customer can really build their confidence.
In this new ‘techno age’ where you can get virtually anything you want online, the local yarn shop has become even more important. Knitters love sharing their skills with others, so if your local store holds a knitting group, definitely go along! We called ours ‘click and clack’ – the name isn’t important, it’s more about the people who came. No one knew each other when our group started, but it wasn’t long before we all became firm friends. We looked forward to meeting up and even with the shop now closed, a group of knitters still see each other regularly. New friendships are forged and, believe me, we covered a lot more topics than just knitting! A lot of yarn stores hold classes, many bringing top knitwear designers to teach. This is a great opportunity to learn something new and it’s always better to be shown alongside others. If you can’t make tutorials, pop in and ask for help, you’ll find your local shop owner has a wealth of knowledge.
Perhaps the most important thing about a bricks and mortar shop is getting to see and feel the yarn. Give it a squidge and see whether it’s that perfect colour you’ve been searching for – there’s nothing quite like it! It’s also inspiring to see a range of different yarns and you never know what you might walk out with. If you have a pattern you really like but you’re not sure about the yarn, substituting it for something else is always an option. You need to make sure you are going home with a yarn which will work and this is where shop owners can offer you excellent advice. With Yarn Shop Day coming up on 12th May, call into your local store and see what it has to offer. I guarantee you’ll be there a while, come home with lovely yarn and meet great people. What could be better?
Sue finds out if knitting improves our mental health.