Tuesday 21 July 2009

What's first

Thanks, thanks, thanks for all of the comments. I really appreciate the response. They were great to read. I tallied up the answers to the question: If you had several yarn shops to choose from why would you go back to one over and over?

More than half said staff and service were the most important. Next was location because, like going to the gym, convenience makes a difference. The last was yarn selection although some of you would travel to a store when you needed a larger selection to choose from. Those of us who are so fortunate as to have a couple of stores to choose from know what the differences are between the stores we frequent and go to each one for a particular reason.

This was not a cabinfever shop question. We work out of a warehouse which is why we are so hard to find. It's a very unglamourous location with corrugated metal walls and black metal gates but this space works really well for us. We have a very small room where we have some retail yarns out but mostly we have the yarns we sell under our label. It's messy, with boxes of yarn and piles of samples and when we are packing for a show it definitely looks like a working shop! We do 8 - 10 shows a year which ties up lots of weekends and makes for a few busy weeks approaching these dates. I hold a 'drop-in' class on Wednesday afternoons during the fall and winter and our knitting guild meets there once a month which is where I see knitters in our shop on a regular basis.

The question springs from speaking to store owners about getting a trade show going in Ontario. This would be an industry show where small and large wholesalers display their wares and store owners come to see what they could buy for their shops - yarn, needles, books, patterns, notions, novelty items, etc. If store owners in the area all shop at the same trade show some of the same products would show up in lots of the shops. Would that result in fewer customers walking through the door? If staff, service and how comfortable you feel in the shop is the largest draw to repeat visits then some overlap of product is not a problem. Any other comments?

And though I was checking this site every 5 minutes to see if there were any more comments, I did finish my Lacey Legs sock (www.cabinfever.ca/P165.html).This is a sample sock so there is only one. Sample socks are happy singles, really they are. Now I have no excuse for doddling. I have to get back to that long list of 'knitting things to do'. I'm working on the JJ Adult jacket, editing a couple of other patterns and . . . that's as far as I've gotten. That giant basket of left behind projects is sitting beside my knitting chair and not clearing itself. Time to dig into it.

Thanks again for your input,



  1. Love ALL the socks this last week. What I really, really like when I'm yarn shopping is to find something that's not widely available in regular yarn shops, i.e. special yarns (and often, patterns) that don't come from big yarn companies. It's why I have always preferred the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival to Stitches East. I love companies like Green Mountain Spinnery and Morehouse Merino and small farms like Kiparoo Farm. I'm sure Ontario must have some similar vendors--like Cabin Fever!

  2. Addendum to comment: I realize I haven't really answered your question. I think yarn stores in the same geographic area have a natural tendency to differentiate themselves. One will specialize in high-end imported Debbie Bliss and Rowan, another will carry discounted yarns from older closed out inventory, another will have quirky, one-of-a-kind hand-dyed local wool. That's been my experience here and in the U.S., at least in mid-sized to large cities. In the Washington, DC area, stores in high-rent areas like Georgetown would generally sell only products with a high profit margin, i.e. lots of $20 balls of yarn. My local store was in that category, so even though I could walk to it in 10 minutes, I rarely made sweater quantity purchases. On the other hand, in suburbia, it was possible to find more "classic", reasonably priced yarns. Ottawa isn't divided up so neatly, but the shops here all tend to have a unique focus and there's not a lot of duplication.

  3. I like to see the special independent yarns and patterns - a trade show sounds like a great idea! I'll hang out in the parking lot.......


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