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crossings@sympatico.ca


Posts

Posted - 03/05/2005 :  09:27:04 AM  Show Profile Send crossings@sympatico.ca a Private Message
I need some advice - I am opening a new yarn shop in the next few months and have been madly searching through my wholesale packages to decide on inventory. My intuition is telling me to be unique - especially since there already is a shop in the next town that will be my competition and is not unique. It seems they carry everything everyone else carries. I want to stock yarns that aren't readily available all around me. And I've found some good ones! As a knitter myself I will drive along way to find something that I've never seen before. I am totally addicted to natural fibers, hand paints, hand dyed beautiful yarn. I think the trend in knitting is simple things - like scarves, ponchos, hats, mits, socks (that knit fairly quickly)in beautiful yarn.

My questions are:

Would you visit a shop that specialized only in wool, alpaca, cotton, bamboo, silk - natural fibers only?

Do you think I am correct about the trend being quicker knits in beautiful yarns?

Given that I only am interested in only the unique and natural fibers - do you have any suggestions on what specific lines I should carry?

Thank you so much!
Connie

mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2005 :  10:03:00 AM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
I have no clue which part of Canada you live in but I am in Toronto and most of the LYS fall into that category. Romni Wools has every natural fibre yarn imagineable and at great prices, so if you are in the GTA you might have a hard time of it. There are also smaller stores such as Lettuce KNit, Knitomatic, and Naked Sheep that do the same on a smaller basis.
Knitting trends change so you must be prepared for that.

Are there any spinners and dyers near you? You could contact them about carrying their products. If you are in an area served only by Zellers and Lewiscraft than I imagine you might have an easier time in attracting customers to your concept, but if you are in the Toronto area you could well have trouble, especially if you are not on the transit lines. Most of the knitters at the SnBs are transit folk.

"I firmly believe the Bible is the misinterpreted word of God." Mokey

www.femiknits.blog-city.com
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crossings@sympatico.ca


Posts

Posted - 03/05/2005 :  10:53:04 AM  Show Profile Send crossings@sympatico.ca a Private Message
Hi Mokey
I live and plan to open north of Toronto - I've been to Lettuce Knit several times and love that store - I think she is unique and tries hard to carry things that aren't available everywhere. As for Romni I've been there - it has everything but it wasn't well organized and I can't stand that. I'd much rather go to a smaller shop. We have a long standing yarn shop close by but they just seem to carry everything Diamond Yarns has - it's not only stock - it's the right atmosphere I think too! I've been in the local shop when a customer came in for help and was offered help for $25/hour or no help at all because the yarn wasn't purchased in the store. I couldn't believe my eyes - wouldn't it have been better to be friendly and helpful so that just possibly the next yarn purchase would have been from them. I know that Lettuce Knit does well with Romni just around the corner and I want to create a similiar kind of shop - for example, I've sourced a small alpaca farm in the US that sells hand dyed DK weight alpaca yarn - it is beautiful and original - my retail would be about $35 for 100 gr/220 yds. She also has 50 gr 110 yd. skein of hand painted alpaca that would retail for about $24. Based on my thinking that easy knits are the trend (right now at least) you could do a scarf in alpaca for $35 or a hand painted one for $48. Do you think that is reasonable?
Thanks for you input!
Connie
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2005 :  11:19:31 AM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
It sounds a bit on the high end. I can knit a stunning scarf out of Fleece Artist for halt that, so without actually seeing how it stacks up I can't say for certain.

I really have no problem with a shop charging for help for yarns not purchased there. Most LYS have a very small staff and simply cannot afford to pull staff from the floor to help someone who purchases elsewhere. If it was a regular customer, then yes help should be given, but not at the expense of the floor. If it was someone who always buys elsewhere, why help? It's a business not a charity. You pay Walmart prices for yarn then you get their service.

"I firmly believe the Bible is the misinterpreted word of God." Mokey

www.femiknits.blog-city.com
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sanity101
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
594 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2005 :  6:12:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit sanity101's Homepage Send sanity101 a Private Message
I would absolutely love a store like that. My favorite yarns are minimally processed ones like Beaverslide Dry Goods, Ozeyarn, HandpaintedYarn.com, Marr Haven, Blackberry Ridge, Fingerlakes, Green Mountain Spinnery... (no, I haven't tried them all, but they're at the top of the list for when I win the lottery).

It's so frustrating trying to get something like that, which is obviously a unique, handmade product, over the internet when you can't feel or see it for yourself.

I'm curious what you mean by 'the same thing everyone else carries'. Near me there are three stores, one which did lots of novelty yarns, one which had the big names like rowan, and one which kinda had high-end hodge-podge: blue sky alpacas, Anny Blatt, Cherry Tree Hill, Noro & the like. While the last one was arguably the most varied, it still seemed the least unique. Your store probably has the most chance against a store like the first one, as unless you can get a much lower price (which you might) mainstream brands like rowan or cherry tree hill have products similar to most organic yarns, at least in many peoples eyes, and you won't stand out as much.

Good luck with it though, I love the idea of there being a place like that somewhere in the world, even if I'll never get to see it :)

-C
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contrary1
Chatty Knitter

100 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2005 :  9:55:18 PM  Show Profile  Visit contrary1's Homepage Send contrary1 a Private Message
Hi Connie

I'm in the same boat, I opened a yarn shop with the goal of being unique. With so many in the Pacific NW, that is a lofty goal indeed.
I try to visit other shops within a days drive of mine, for several reasons. One, to introduce myself..........two, so I can refer customers to them when I don't carry something someone requests.......and three, so I don't purchase the same lines they are carrying.
So far, it is working out fairly well. Obviously, there are a couple things we have that a few neighboring shops have, but the goal is to research and find the odd & unusual.
I do have a local artist/knitter/spinner that is starting to keep us supplied with some handspun/hand dyed yarns that are amazing. We are also carrying products like swifts made by a local craftsperson.
I too offer assistance to customers no matter where they bought their supplies. I don't require students to purchase their yarn for classes from us either. My goal is to pass along this great hobby & have a good time doing it.
Keep to your original plan, it all sounds wonderful. I'll be anxious to hear progress reports!!

Sue at
Country Yarns
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luv2knit944
Permanent Resident

USA
1789 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2005 :  03:55:26 AM  Show Profile Send luv2knit944 a Private Message
I don't know if you' want to call long distance,but we have a designer who opened a shop in Boston that seems to be what you're talking about.She's avery nice lady and might be very helpful to you.If you're interested e-mail me and I will give you her # at the shop.

Pauline
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Ditzy Girl
Permanent Resident

USA
4723 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2005 :  08:44:04 AM  Show Profile Send Ditzy Girl a Private Message
We have a lys that advertises that they carry the largest stock of environmentally friendly yarns. I think there is a place for all at this particular time. The next town over is just that the next town over.

Zola, Seattle, Wash.

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Joan NYC
Warming Up

USA
80 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2005 :  06:31:01 AM  Show Profile Send Joan NYC a Private Message
Purl in New York City is the closest to what you are talking about and they are very successful.
Look at their website Purlsoho.com
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HoJo
Permanent Resident

USA
1474 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2005 :  08:55:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit HoJo's Homepage Send HoJo a Private Message
I've spoken to a number of shop owners and many of them start out with the idea of natural as a goal - many of them have added other yarns as customer demands dictate - including novelty and less expensive yarns. Make sure when you put your business plan together you include a good product mix.

HoJo

"Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels." Faith Whittesley

My blog: www.fullthreadahead.com/blog
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Wen
Permanent Resident

Australia
3244 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2005 :  6:20:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit Wen's Homepage Send Wen a Private Message
There is a yarn shop in Beechworth - 3 hours from here that ONLY stocks Alpaca. I have been there and will go back because I got good service and their stock is really nice, some imports, some local and some from a local farmers co-op. They also stock good quality alpaca clothing; some felted some knitted some woven.

What you are trying to do will attract people, especially those who have been knitting for a while and realise that a knitted garment can last for years.

It sounds like a good niche to go into however keep your options open if everyone who walks through the door wants some novelty yarns to trim their garments it would be worth stocking some. Also don't forget to stock some cheaper yarns for those that can't afford the premium brands.

Wen

2005 stats: 4 FO, 8 WIP, 0 frogpond.
http://photos.yahoo.com/whdayus
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crossings@sympatico.ca


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Posted - 03/11/2005 :  07:59:52 AM  Show Profile Send crossings@sympatico.ca a Private Message
Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice. One point is that because I am in Canada and we have a major distributor here that deals with Noro, Debbie Bliss, Rowan etc - yarn shops can be very similiar. I have found the unusual in some but not many. I do intend to carry some novelty yarns (ugh! - because it would be silly not to). Up here we have virtually no stores that carry Blue Sky Alpacas, Karabella, Lorna's Laces - I think I will buy what I love to start - I have a long, long, long history in sales and have brought 2 major unknown products to the Canadian market in the past and been pretty successful doing it. I can sell what I love! I was in my local shop and was talking to a woman about Noro Transitions and how I had bought some to work into a throw that I was making out of panels - she bought some at $24.95 per skein. She agreed with me that once you've knit with the beautiful, unusual yarn it's hard to work with anything else. It's also the atmosphere - wouldn't you love to go to a shop that is warm and inviting - where the coffee is always hot and a helping hand is always available. I would!
Connie
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KL
Permanent Resident

6041 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2005 :  06:50:57 AM  Show Profile Send KL a Private Message
I, also, am a new store owner. What we have learned about "special" fibers is that our customer needs to be educated as to why they are special, especially in regards to price. They may initially balk at the price, but when you take the time to explain that the yarn is alpaca,what part of the animal it comes from, that it is hand-dyed, etc. etc., they are much more responsive to the price. This is especially true of beginners that have a goodly expendible income. We also will try to help her with a substitute of less costly value when we can if she is still reticent. She invaribly comes back later for the real thing.
I think your idea is a great one, however, it will take time to develope and educate-remember, not everyone will relate to what makes the fiber special other than just being natural.
I wish you luck and will watch for further messages as to how you are doing-K
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Bullmonty
Seriously Hooked

814 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2005 :  5:26:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit Bullmonty's Homepage Send Bullmonty a Private Message
Connie
How are u going so far?
I'd love to own a LYS here in Oz but don't know where to start! Does one just jump in with own capital? Banks and loans scare me! Tam, Wen, Ozknitter and Diana, do you think our market is just too small?
... to dream the impossible dream......!
Nance
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niter
Warming Up

USA
54 Posts

Posted - 04/01/2005 :  09:58:42 AM  Show Profile  Visit niter's Homepage Send niter a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by crossings@sympatico.ca

Would you visit a shop that specialized only in wool, alpaca, cotton, bamboo, silk - natural fibers only?


Oh god yes! Could you please just move and set up your store here?

Our LYS is excellent for having the novelty yarns, but weak on wool. Yes, there are some gorgeous wools that are to die for, but not much that is just straight out simple worsted. I yearn for a store exactly like yours to compliment this one.

My Knitting/Crafting Blog
http://thewittyknit.typepad.com

Sell crazy someplace else...we're all stocked up here - Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson), As Good As It Gets
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KL
Permanent Resident

6041 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2005 :  07:58:42 AM  Show Profile Send KL a Private Message
Bullmonty- I jumped in with about 1/2 of my 401k and my husband backed the rest with a very high ceiling on credit- most yarn co's want a credit card to open orders. I took him on all my research trips and he became a believer very quickly. Yes, using the 401k was a risk, but, sometimes you have to take that risk to realize your dream. It's a tremendous amount of work, but worth it! You go to work every morning happy. KL
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2005 :  08:30:22 AM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
Can you not borrown against a 401K?(retirement fund)

"I firmly believe the Bible is the misinterpreted word of God." Mokey

www.femiknits.blog-city.com
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KL
Permanent Resident

6041 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2005 :  08:56:36 AM  Show Profile Send KL a Private Message
Mokey- Good question- Our experience with banks was pretty illogical. We were "scmoozed" at a chamber meeting in our city by a bank that stated they were "there" for new businesses, but then they tell you that unless you have been in business for 3 years, they won't loan you the money. I contacted two retired banker friends of mine to ask what this was all about and they basically said that banks like you only when you really have no longer any need for their help! In other words, once you are profitable, they will loan you money. We haven't persued any other institutions as yet, but I hear that the SBA is a good source. KL
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umbaba
Seriously Hooked

USA
693 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2005 :  10:31:02 AM  Show Profile  Visit umbaba's Homepage Send umbaba a Private Message
I had good luck with SBA start-up loan. You provide a third and the bank and the SBA share the underwriting of the rest. The SBA had good volunteer business counselors that got my a good start on my business plan and general business education and then I hired a guy to finish the financials on the plan and put it into a nice format and we were successful at the bank in about a half an hour. We open at the end of May!


...as soon as I finish this row

www.abundantyarn.com
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Bullmonty
Seriously Hooked

814 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2005 :  7:38:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit Bullmonty's Homepage Send Bullmonty a Private Message
Hi KL
What's your store? do youhave a website?
I don't know how to 'ping' you off the forum!
Nance

...just one more row...!
pics at www.aw-yeong.com

[img]http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/knit.gif[/img][img]http://www.mdnpd.com/pd/images/yarndog.gif[/img]
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KL
Permanent Resident

6041 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2005 :  12:40:08 AM  Show Profile Send KL a Private Message
Bullmonty- We are a new store in Santa Clarita Ca. We are currently working on our web-my partner is doing most of it as I am such a techno-idiot. We are doing well- we are basically the only up-scale store in over a 100 sq. mi. area. KL
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