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eggshel344
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
391 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  08:33:35 AM  Show Profile  Visit eggshel344's Homepage  Send eggshel344 a Yahoo! Message Send eggshel344 a Private Message
I am growing increasingly unhappy at work and the stress is killing me. I have started to put more and more thought into opening a yarn shop. This is not the first time this has crossed my mind, but its certainly the most seriously I have thought about it. And the more I think about it and the more I realize how hard yarn is to find in my area (northern IL) the better idea I think it may be...

But to be honest, I have no idea where to start, how much capital I would need, etc... any input? I would love the advice. Any information about how much it takes to get started, any tips... or if I am just nuts feel free to tell me that too.

Thanks!

*new blog* http://www.samanthainstitches.blogspot.com/
"Failure is only an opportunity to begin agian more intellegently."
When Henry Ford said that I doubt he had knitting in mind, but if the sweater fits...

Lissa
Permanent Resident

USA
4942 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  09:09:11 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lissa's Homepage Send Lissa a Private Message
If you're looking to avoid stress, do NOT open a yarn shop. There's a huge initial investment in stock and build-out, you'll be working a hundred hours a week, and the profit margin is very low, which adds to the stress. It's very rewarding, but definitely not low-stress.

Lissa

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a
revolutionary act. -- George Orwell


Oh, and I now have a blog:http://knittnlissa.typepad.com/knittnlissa/
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eggshel344
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
391 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  09:26:35 AM  Show Profile  Visit eggshel344's Homepage  Send eggshel344 a Yahoo! Message Send eggshel344 a Private Message
I don't think I would mind the stress of my own business, particularly if I felt it was rewarding, which I have a hunch this would be.
The problem with my current situation is that I work for a big corporation, am just a number and keep getting other peoples work piled on me as they cut corners and downsize to save money. It has lost all feeling of accomplishment, and I have so much to do I don't even feel as if I do most of it well anymore. that's where the stress comes from. Not to mention, it's not at all personally rewarding or fulfilling.

*new blog* http://www.samanthainstitches.blogspot.com/
"Failure is only an opportunity to begin agian more intellegently."
When Henry Ford said that I doubt he had knitting in mind, but if the sweater fits...
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klfrazier
Permanent Resident

1745 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  09:37:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit klfrazier's Homepage Send klfrazier a Private Message
I understand the attraction of the idea of having your own shop, but I do think that you need to do a lot of very serious research before you decide to do it. A friend of mine went through a very similar thought process a year or so ago, and ultimately decided that it would be better to find a new job than to turn something she loved into a stressful nightmare.

I don't own a shop, so there's not much else I can add. What I will say, though, is that a lot of yarn shops are reporting a slow-down in the knitting craze this fall, and so now might not be the best time to open a store.

Kristin
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KnitBits
Chatty Knitter

231 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  10:44:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit KnitBits's Homepage Send KnitBits a Private Message
Samantha,

Several quick notes - coming from the consulting world of 70+ hours a week and the thankless environment of that grind I completely understand.

If you have truly found an area that has not been over exposed (or have no yarn shops), and the customer demographics will support your shop I would say that is a good point from which you can start.

Here are some words of wisdom (for what they are worth):

Have a plan
Have a mentor or someone who would be willing to work with you for a small fee (or a silent partner who knows the biz)
Start small
Do not make your shop a 'do or die' scenario (have a short-term, mid-term, long-term, and if needed an 'out' formula)
Have an alternative method with which you can make some money
Expect long hours
Remember this is a service line (even though you are selling goods)
Have a plan
Manage your inventory well
Have a plan
Always ask for terms
Have a plan
Do not scum to selling pressure
And, most importantly, have fun - life is truly too short and this should not be a new source of stress for you.

Wishing you the best and good luck!

Sue F
Little Knits
http://www.littleknits.com
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Lissa
Permanent Resident

USA
4942 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  11:07:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lissa's Homepage Send Lissa a Private Message
Just keep in mind that with your current situation, you get paid vacation and sick time and a regular paycheck.

Lissa

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a
revolutionary act. -- George Orwell


Oh, and I now have a blog:http://knittnlissa.typepad.com/knittnlissa/
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risingfawnfiber
New Pal

USA
22 Posts

Posted - 12/27/2005 :  1:07:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit risingfawnfiber's Homepage Send risingfawnfiber a Private Message
"Start small
Do not make your shop a 'do or die' scenario (have a short-term, mid-term, long-term, and if needed an 'out' formula)"

Great advice, Sue.
None of us plan to fail, but we sometimes fail to plan. The 'out' formula is important, as in don't sign a long term lease for your store site. Even in the yarn business, location is very important.
If you decide not to open a shop, there are lots of opportunities
in fiber arts. I hope you find your passion.

BMcKaig
www.BrendaMckaig.com









Brenda McKaig,
Rising Fawn Fiber Studio
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eggshel344
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
391 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2005 :  2:29:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit eggshel344's Homepage  Send eggshel344 a Yahoo! Message Send eggshel344 a Private Message
Thank you all for your advice, I am taking it all into consideration and doing lots of research. :)

*new blog* http://www.samanthainstitches.blogspot.com/

"Failure is only an opportunity to begin agian more intellegently."
When Henry Ford said that I doubt he had knitting in mind, but if the sweater fits...
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KL
Permanent Resident

6041 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2005 :  08:44:54 AM  Show Profile Send KL a Private Message
All of the above is great advice- and yes, according to ALL our reps; there is a plateauing of knitting for LYSO's. Even if you are the only store in your demographics, plan to experience high season and low season and plan accordingly.
Know who the customer is in your area-little things like summer vacations away from your city can affect your business. It certainly affected ours in our first year.
We happen to be in a young, affluent area where when school lets out; families are gone 2-3 weeks out of every month with multiple vacations. Or they are so involved with activities, they just don't have time to do that much shopping.
Plan your opening stock conservatively until you have a year behind you to analyze your customers buying habits.
Add 25% to your initial projections for start up-it's the little stuff that can eat away at your budget-signage, advertising,parking lot fees etc.etc.
Pick and choose your vendors-you cannot be everything to everyone-target your customer and stick to that target.
Plan on little time off-remember, when you are sick, the store still has to open.
Don't open a store if you think it would be fun to be able to knit all day-you won't have a minute!
Just a few things to think about, KL
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knittingdiva
Gabber Extraordinaire

394 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2005 :  10:43:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit knittingdiva's Homepage Send knittingdiva a Private Message
One of the things I was most surprised about in studying entrepreneurship is the impact it can have on familys/relationships. While I am meaning to be overly negative, research has shown that entreprenuers have higher divorce rates (just one statistic) so I think you also need to consider the impact this type of profession might have on your personal relationships, as well as your finances. :)

http://sometimesatypical.blogspot.com
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HeatherM
Chatty Knitter

USA
152 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2005 :  5:37:10 PM  Show Profile Send HeatherM a Private Message
I closed my shop this past November after 14 mos. in business. You couldn't find a more enthusiastic person than me when I opened it, or in a more perfect situation. I had money, a perfect location, and had worked in law for 10 years so paperwork and red tape and hard work were no problem. I liked people, particularly ones who shared my passion for crafts. I was disciplined, had no children, and plenty of time to devote to the shop. A sure thing, right?
Oh, so wrong. Despite a large customer base, I ended up horribly in debt, exhausted beyond belief, irritable, discouraged, dejected, and hating the shop and everything to do with it. I lost my faith in God and in people.
The main thing that went wrong was that I tried to do it alone. It doesn't work. You must have partners or at least employees you can count on. There are 3 jobs in a yarn store that are going on all at once all the time: you must have someone to knit samples and teach classes, someone to wait on the customers, and someone to do the business end - paperwork (finances, taxes, inventory, advertising), website set-up and monitoring, etc. One person cannot do it all. I tried and burned out. If there are some of you out there doing it alone, you're super-human!
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jacqui@woolwinders.com


Posts

Posted - 12/30/2005 :  08:31:07 AM  Show Profile Send jacqui@woolwinders.com a Private Message
I had to chime in here. I opened my shop 3 and 1/2 years ago and have been running in the black since opening day. My husband, an attorney, was amazing. He took care of the financial end of things (not my strong suit), while I ran the store and managed the inventory. Did I make mistakes? Sure. Was I tired? Sure. But I had worked in corporate and legal America for 25 years and LOVED being in business for myself. I worked alone six days a week for about six months and then began hiring an extraordinary staff. Everyone works part time, some only during the week, some only on weekends depending on their schedules. The biggest challenge has been nailing my inventory. I learned quickly that you spend as much time selling a $5.00 skein of yarn as you do a $15, so upgraded my inventory as quickly as my customer base would allow. I focused on classes and new knitters which brought in new customers all the time. We strive for outstanding customer service; we are open 7 days a week and have one late night. The loyalty of my customers and staff is nothing short of heartwarming. Even on my most frustrating day, I wouldn't trade this for anything. Yes retail can be exhausting, yes you can learn a lot of weird things about people, yes you can act like a counselor WAY more than you want to, but as an industry, the knitting/yarn community is terrific. I would recommend the following to anyone who thinks they want to open a shop:

1. Be capitalized. Although we ran in the black, the money we made was put back in the shop.
2. Check out your competition. Is it the big box craft store? Other small specialty shops? That will determine your niche and inventory.Offer things they don't have: newsletters, websites, lots of classes.
3. Make sure you don't just love fibers. You have to love people to do this. It is, after all, retail.
4. Be prepared to work like a dog the first two years. Until you have a staff you trust, you will not be able to take vacations unless you close the shop. Your staff will probably come from your customers; check them out well.
5. Go to the TNNA Shows. Don't count on reps to stock your store. There are a lot of fabulous vendors out there that don't use a sales rep system.
6. Focus on big vendors that give you the best dating. Try for 30/60/90 at least. It gives you breathing room.
7. Have a wide range of skill sets at the store. You don't have to know how to do everything, but have access to people who know how to do what you don't. I am a horrendous finisher, but have an excellent resource in my Saturday staff person as well as someone who works outside the shop.
7. Make sure you have a good supply of wine and/or xanax. You will need it! I am only half kidding. It is very hard work with little "down time." You have to have your "game face" on at the store ALWAYS.
8. Finally, have some fun with it!!!!

Happy New Year to all.
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