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The Importance of the Local Yarn Shop

| 8/15/2018 12:00:00 AM

Front of store
The storefront of local yarn shop, Olives and Bananas, in Thunder Bay, ON. Photo by Amy Vervoort

Almost every industry has seen a recent boom in marketing and promotion regarding the importance of shopping locally and supporting small businesses. Business associations, municipalities, and industry boards have all been publicly sponsoring “shop local” messages to help ensure the survival of small locally-owned businesses, and local yarn shops (LYS for short) are no exception. From National Local Yarn Shop Day to the UK’s newest “shop hopping” rewards scheme, people are catching on that if we don’t support our local yarn shop, we may soon lose this valuable resource.

The Struggles

Owning a brick and mortar shop has always been a challenging livelihood, and in the era of e-commerce it’s even trickier. They now must compete with the draw of the convenience of shopping 24/7 from the comfort of one’s home without having to deal with weather, traffic, or crowds. Yet, in the era of social media, even brick and mortars are expected to post on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram daily as part of their marketing strategy, and many shops often sell online as well to broaden their customer base. This stretches shop owners’ time thin. And don’t forget how the Internet has compounded the amount of communications coming in - not only do shop owners need to communicate face to face, deal with lettermail, and take phone calls, but they also must answer emails, texts, private messages on social media, and monitor and respond to comments on their social media posts. It’s like running two full time businesses.

Panorama of store inside
A treasure trove of yarns and samples await in the LYS. Photo by Amy Vervoort.

The Benefits

Of course you can find a bounty of yarn, tools, and patterns in your LYS (and ‘yarn’ doesn’t even begin to cover it – most now also sell spinning, felting, and other fiber arts supplies). But it’s the services that really set them apart from their digital counterparts. Things like:

Advice: help with choosing the best yarn for your pattern (or vice versa)

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