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Monica

Hi, came across your link throught the linen drape along project and thought this post would be fun to comment on. I think a yarn store should have a comfy couch so people can relax and knit. If space is a problem, a couple of chairs for a stitch and bitch session once a week or month would be great too.

Norma

The most important feature of the perfect yarn store is truly GREAT customer service. I might be able to explain it best by explaining what I've experienced that I DON'T like: a feeling that I am being hurried or more accurately, that I am an imposition to the owner or employees; a condescending attitude; or conversely, one that is too obsequious; lack of response to phone calls, emails, or (as has happened to me) just plain failure to mail an item to save me a trip to the store when I know exactly what it is I wanted. I also am not fond of yarn stores that organize their yarn by color. There -- how's that for approaching the question through the back door?

kate

1. Knowledgeable sales people who don't mind helping you with a little problem real quick and can suggest another/better way to do things. (This is how I learned A LOT! Thank you Yarn Connection on Madison in NYC!)
2. Great customer service (like Norma said)
3. Lot's of variety - in terms of weight, color, texture of yarns. A lot of stores don't seem to have ANY lace weight yarns and many have loads and loads of acrylics, and a bunch of scratchy wools, but a limited number of cottons and few wools you might actually want to wear next to your skin.
4. Decent sized swatches to show you what the yarns look like knit up instead of those dinky little swatches I always find.
5. The store should be bright and light.
6. For those of us who are always buying, a "fidelity card" could be nice. Make 9 purchases and get 10% off your 10th or something...
7. One store I visited had a wall of photos of FOs. It was really neat.
8. Carry bryspun needles. Or at least a decent selection of needles.
9. Display patterns and magazines in a way that looks nice instead of a big messy stack or an ugly rack where they all get destroyed before they are even bought.
10. Love the store, love knitting, love your customers. They'll feel the love and love you too.

Diana

Hmmmm....
1. Friendly sales people I think are more important than really knowledgable sales people (though somebody has to be there to fix problems..) I hate going into yarn stores and not being acknowledged. If they're friendly, that's a real bonus and makes me want to come back.
2. Something (a little table with coloring books, a space with wooden blocks or toys) to keep kids occupied. As both a mother of a 4-yr-old and an employee of a yarn store, I've found this to be a godsend - keeps my kid occupied while I look for yarn or keeps me from a nervous breakdown watching customers' kids wreck the store.
3. Yarns in every gauge. This seems self-evident, but in the last month I've been to a store that had nothing but novelty yarn and to a store that had no sock yarn.
4. Patterns arranged in clearly-marked binders. I don't want to wade through a hundred baby blanket patterns to find a sock pattern.
5. A big table. I think this is more important than comfy chairs. You need room to spread out pieces of sweaters to show seaming or track down patterns. Customers need room to sit and look at binders. You need it for classes. It makes pricing and organizing inventory easier.
6. Prices marked on the yarn. I hate having to look around for a price sheet or have to ask someone.
7. Lots of classes. Beginner classes bring in a new customer base and lots of technique classes will keep more experienced knitters coming back.

Please wish your friend the best of luck with her store. It's been the best job I've ever had (and I've had a lot!!)

Helene

I used to work in a yarn store, and I'll never forget once a lady came with her husband tagging along. He had a great suggestion. Every yarn store should have a "next of kin"-department. For husbands/boyfriends/sons/other unfortunate male relatives that happend to be dragged along to the yarn store. This department should, acording to my customers husband, contain a comfy chair, cofee and cartoons. I thought it was a great idea!

The perfect yarn store would have. . . bamboo knitting needles.

The perfect yarn store would have. . . lots of knit up garments to tempt the customers. Also very simple yet cool stuff to cathc the beginner knitter.

The perfect yarn store would have. . . a great window display of finished garments, yarn and books.

The perfect yarn store would have. . . only quality yarn, but a range of prizes. Not everyone can aford to buy the most expencive Rowan or Noro yarn.

The perfect yarn store would have. . . High quality yarn that carry lots of colours as a base of your products, then you can vary with fun novelty yarn, wich will change with season and fashion.

The perfect yarn store would . . . be very helpful to get equipment for other yarn crafts than knitting, like crochet, lacemaking, nalbinding, tatting, card weaving....

Ali

For me, the perfect yarn store would have one of those drinking water upside down bottle things. You're going to be there a while, and a little cup of water would make the stay even nicer.

Kristin

I have to agree with many of those who have already posted, but I'll see what I can add:

1) Friendly and knowledgeable staff. Whenever I go to my LYS, I love just hanging out and sharing stories and ideas with the staff. And if I have a question or need some advice, they're always there to help.

2) A wide variety of yarns. I've seen some places that only have novelty yarns (and maybe one little basket of wool). That just didn't work for me. But, as Helene mentioned, it's important to have yarns in a variety of prices, too. I love finding a great bargain -- and I've created all kinds of wonderful projects from sale yarns and stuff in the $1 bin. (And, as Diana said, have prices marked on the yarns, so customers don't always have to ask.)

3) Samples. Swatches are really helpful, but samples are excellent. I've often bought yarn/patterns just because I loved the sample hanging in the store.

4) A comfy place to hang out and dream up projects -- or work on projects. I feel a lot more comfortable flipping through binders of patterns if I don't have to kneel or sit on the floor. The yarn store in my hometown also has a table and a bunch of chairs, where people can come to learn or just to sit around and knit.

5) Fun events. Again at the yarn store in my hometown, they host a variety of classes, but they also have special nights every Thursday, when anyone can show up and bring a dessert or a bottle of wine or whatever and just hang out with the girls and knit.

6) I don't know if it's feasible for your friend, but I've seen some yarn stores that also have a cafe. That sounds perfect to me -- to meet some friends for coffee/lunch and do a little knitting (and shopping).

Let us know when your friend's store is open. I'm not far from Newburyport, and I'd love to check it out...

k

Margene

Customer services, no gossip (about other stores or customers), classes for all levels, help (with a smile) at all times, good newsletter, quality yarns, good light with comfy chairs for people to sit and visit while knitting or shopping, books and lots of fun accessories.

Michelle Sorensen

A great website!
A newsletter, online or otherwise
Regular guest knitters who teach new techniques
A good button selection, and possibly beads
Local yarns

And, of course, as previously suggested:
Friendly staff who love knitting and are willing to go out on a limb with you on a new project
A good knitting space (table and chairs, etc.)
A variety of yarns at a variety of prices
A frequent-shopper card, or some other way to acknowledge repeat customers (possibly faithful customer sales events one evening every month or so?)

Michelle Sorensen

A great website!
A newsletter, online or otherwise
Regular guest knitters who teach new techniques
A good button selection, and possibly beads
Local yarns

And, of course, as previously suggested:
Friendly staff who love knitting and are willing to go out on a limb with you on a new project
A good knitting space (table and chairs, etc.)
A variety of yarns at a variety of prices
A frequent-shopper card, or some other way to acknowledge repeat customers (possibly faithful customer sales events one evening every month or so?)

Lisa in Oregon

The perfect yarn store would have.....community. A bulletin board for posting knitting stuff/events, a memory for regular customer's names, a place for a few knitters to sit and knit anytime, etc. My LYS owners, who are sisters, have become two of my better friends. I adore them, I cherish them, and I support them as much as I can.

Fun contest! :)

Brynne

The perfect yarn store would have:

Yarn:
* Affordable basics like Cascade 220 or Brown Sheep in bulky, worsted and sport. Good basic wool for basic projects.
* Some basic cottons for summer projects.
* A little acrylic or high acrylic percentage yarn. Almost everyone knits for babies or non-knitters who want simple fabric care. I'd rather buy that yarn at an LYS than at a craft store.
* Some sock yarn, both self-patterning and plain.
* Some luxuries with great fiber content like alpaca and cashmere, handpainted yarns, nice lace weight yarns,
* Yeah, yeah, have that scarf-making novelty yarn, too. People really do move on from scarves and it takes something to begin. :)

Tools:
* A variety of needles. I like wood needles, but having bamboo, metal and plastic makes it more affordable to knit and lets you choose a needle to go with a specific project.
* Crochet hooks, too.
* My LYS has little capped jars of yarn needles in different sizes by the register. I lose so many yarn needles that I love being able to buy one for thirty cents whenever I'm there.

Patterns:
* Pattern books, both classic (EZ, etc.) and new. I'm more likely to spend a few dollars extra at a yarn store than order from a large website if I can help it.
* Magazines like IK, Vogue Knitting, Knitters.
* I'm not really big on single patterns, but I've occasionally found something in one of those giant binders.

Service/People:
* Accept unused skein returns so overbuying by one skein to be safe for a sweater isn't a problem. When I'm returning that one skein, I'm most likely shopping for my next big project.
* Some interesting non-beginner classes. I'd love to take a class at an LYS around here, but I don't want to pay to take "Socks for Beginners" or "Felted Purse."
* While I don't expect a yarn store to be a playground, be at least child-tolerant. A store here has a sign that says "Please control your children." Now that I have a baby, I feel very unwelcome there. I know not to let kids run wild in a yarn store, thank you very much.
* That same store is waaay too hands off with customers. They sometimes seem put out that they have to ring you up.
* Be interested in what your customers are doing. I'm guessing that most LYS owners really are interested (I mean, they love yarn enough to OWN a store!), but whether they care what I'm knitting or not, I love when they ask me what I'm planning to make with what I'm buying.

I hope that wasn't too much of a rant! I have definite preferences among the stores here and now that I've found a new source for Rowan and Noro yarns, I'm not planning to shop at the unfriendly store I mentioned above.

LisaJoy

The perfect yarn store would have a good selection of different fibers, different weights, variety of colors, variety of prices. Swatches, made to the recommended guage on the yarn, and big enough to get an idea of the drape of the finished fabric. Lots of finished samples to tempt the shopper, but be sure you have available the pattern and the yarn called for, as well as a lower priced alternative yarn. A nice variety of needle sizes and types, with the possibility to special order upon request. A comfy place to sit and chat with other knitters or just to sit and absorb the wonderful aura of texture and color while you make up your mind whether to get the the wool/alpaca blend or the wool/mohair blend and how much you'll need.

Ryan

I can tell you one thing a yarn store should NOT have--lucite display cases. There is a store here that uses lucite display cases and the yarn is constantly falling--no, squirting--out and onto the floor. All knitters are familiar with the occasional "yarn-escape," but at this place, it borders on the ridiculous. You don't even have to touch the yarn, just walk past it and, sproink!

Oh, and one thing a yarn store should have--a nice bathroom, especially for people who shop for a long time, like me! It doesn't have to be big, just clean, accessible and, ambience-wise, an extension of the yarn store. I always wonder about yarn stores that have a friendly, colorful, clean shop area, and then a small, dark, and questionably-clean bathroom.

Fun contest!

larissa

A perfect yarn store would have salespeople who don't make you feel embarrassed because of your addiction, and who admire the WIPs you bring in :-) PLUS... local, rare, and hard to find yarns, rather than simply the usual suspects, various actual skeins of Lorna's Laces and koigu yarns in stock so we can see colors, and the Charlotte's Web pattern in stock. Also, it would have a resource center and knitting area, where there are comfy chairs, good lights, even a fireplace, as well as a laptop or two with fast internet hookup, lots of bookmarks to free pattern sites, and a printer. Um, and some hot tea brewing all the time. In short, I would want a clubhouse. :-)

Melissa

NIGHT HOURS!!!!!!!!!!! I have to work during the day to generate my disposable income.

Spinning supplies, such as roving, carders and wool wash. Dyes would be nice also.

Yes, a nice bathroom.

Offer space to local knitting groups 1 evening a week. Currently, we scramble to find a Starbucks that isn't filled with irritating teenagers with half their bodies exposed and trying to deep throat each other on the sofa.

amy

I agree -- day into evening hours are important for those that work during the day. I also want to second the frequent buyers' discount idea. My LYS also does something I like: they have donation bins in the store for local charities (hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, etc.) that can use yarn/needle donations. A nice way to support the local community. Goes along with the bulletin board and meeting place ideas.

Bliss

My "need" in a yarn store is much different than the norm. I have MS and am often in a wheelchair. On a really "good" day when I can walk a few short steps, I am still not able to walk all around a yarn store enjoying the goodies. Because of space restraints, I have never found one that was wheelchair friendly. However, I do visit one on rare occasion and she brings the store to ME. She gathers up balls of yarn in a basket and brings them to me. I get to pet and appreciate new fibers. This is repeated until I am sated (or overwhelmed) with the experience. Of course she always asks first if there is anything in particular I am looking for, and she brings that first. I try to time my visits to her least busy times. It's not fair to expect this kind of personal service during a peak period. She's rewarded by getting to "swipe" my credit card until it melts. :0) This particular shop owner is such a jewel, she has offered to home deliver anything I need in a "rush" as she passes near my home on the way to her own.

In a nutshell, find a way to reach out to older patrons or those like me who have a disease that limits mobility, but doesn't limit our love of all things "knitterly".

lisa b

1. a swatch knitting area...with a skein of every yarn for sale available for swatching
2. evening hours for us working moms...
3. lots of workshops for 2 hours that are offered on a rotating basis

sarah

The perfect yarn store would have gorgeous-to-die-for knitted samples from current pattern publishers. We want to see the things we are contemplating knitting in real life. Forget the little 4 by 4 swatch. The yarn store in my town is so boring. All she does for her sample knitting is make baby sweaters. One or two fabo ones would be great since sure we all knit baby sweaters. But give me something to drool over!

...would have an evening stich and bitch every week so folks could shop late and get help on current projects.

...would have spinning and dyeing supplies.

...would have SPACE to move around.

...would have lots of natural light.

...would have very little acrylic! (sorry, I'm a yarn snob)

carrie

What a fun thing to dream about!

The perfect yarn store would have:

ample space to move around--no fun trying to choose yarn with someone's elbow in your eye

plenty of natural light, for accurate color examination

places to sit and relax and knit, for hours if you like

staff that are friendly to *each other* as well as to the customers (nothing turns me off like salespeople sniping behind the counter)

yarns that are economical. I don't mean cheap in quality. For instance, wool yarns on cones. Even if the store charges a winding fee or requires a minimum weight purchase, coned yarns are often less expensive than buying little hanks of an ounce here, an ounce there.

a variety of fine yarns for socks and lace knitting.

volume discounts :)

I agree too with the suggestion to emphasize local yarn producers, if any.

Personally, if I were to start a yarn store today, I would make sure my store had some speciality. There are many many general purpose yarn stores about. A specialty need not unduly restrict what items are offered for sale, but it would give the store a bit of extra personality. No store can hope to show all the latest greatest in every area, but even a little store could make sure to keep up with the greatest in one area. Maybe the store has everything you'd ever need for Aran knitting, including hard-to-get yarn imported from.... or makes sure to always stock a complete color range of a variety of shetlands for fair isle. Maybe it's the source for everything related to socks, or always stocks hard-to-find mitten patterns. If it were me, I'd specialize in lace :) and carry a wide range of lace-weight yarns and small needles, along with unusual shawl patterns, blocking pins, in-depth books, etc. I'd be thinking about a way to give my store an edge and make it a destination for people that are really, really into... (whatever your heart desires).

Sarah

What I love about my LYS (it's not perfect, but it's close!)

1 - wide selection of yarns - colors, fibers, gauges, manufacturers

2 - lots of patterns - books/pamphlets/singles

3 - friendly, helpful staff - they managed to get me over the picking-up stitches and grafting hurdle on a sweater, for which I will be eternally grateful!

4 - a big ol' table and lots of chairs, where there is a sit and knit session every Thursday afternoon - very nice when you start to feel you're the only knitter in the universe. Plus the staff is frequently found working there (and offering help) on other days.

5 - a kid's area so they aren't underfoot (I don't have kids, but can appreciate the need for the area)

6 - lots of open space, so you don't feel cramped, and big windows so lots of sun pours in (when it's sunny, at least)

Paula

My LYS is a treasure box, a small place with interesting tempting yarns. She carries mainly wool, mohair, linen, silk yarns etc, and some better quality acrylic. There are patterns galore all filed in binders by company. She does not necessarily carry the so-called designer yarns i.e. Rowan, Debbie Bliss etc. however she does carry comparable yarns in fibre, colour and gauge. She does carry delicious ‘local yarn’ from Fleece Artist: http://www.fleeceartist.com/. The needle, hook, and gadget selection is interesting and it covers many brands, however is not extensive. My LYS will order in any yarn, pattern, accessory etc providing their distributor carries the product. She and her staff are very knowledgeable, and helpful, however they don’t hover, this allows a wander and dreamer like me to spend a few hours looking at all the gems to be found. She does not have room for a table or chairs these would be nice however in a historic building where space is a premium not always possible. My LYS does not really carry books, or magazines, although there are a few older copies to be found in one corner. The shop is tiny enough not to be overwhelming yet is packed with hidden delights waiting to be discovered.

Kendra

Most of this is redundant, but reflects attitudes gained from some of my most discouraging encounters at LYS's
#1- Space, especially for classes or groups.
#2- Samples (some of us just need to see the project to get the concept)
#3- Evening hours (for us working folk)
#4- A range of yarns (price, color, weight, fiber) no matter what your climate or clientele
#5- Free ball winding for any skeins purchased in store
#6- Cordial staff
I have had some wonderful experiences in some stores. I like the ones that recognize that they can't be all things to all people and that take a "more the merrier" approach to other stores and resources.
Hope your friend's plans come to fruit and that she and the crafting community in your town celebrate the fun together.
Kendra

Carrie

I'm considering opening a new LYS too, so this post is very interesting to me. The thing that I think is most important is fostering a sense of community. Neele arts have always been a very communal activity and I think the best part of knitting is the people you meet and bond with because of it. I think it's important to not intimidate a new knitter (by offering all expert classes, having all samples be complex...) and at the same time not patronize an expert knitter (by being a scarf bar). Fine balance when doing all kinds of marketing.

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