Monday, February 12, 2007

Yarn shopping

Last week when I was listening to the instructor of my photography class tell me about all the help available at Bedford's (a very small local chain of camera shops), I thought to myself, "This is what's really great about shopping at independent stores." I just don't know enough to figure out what I should buy, how, when, or what I would use it for.

I find myself in almost the same position with knitting supplies. While I was in Anaheim, I visited two different types of yarn stores, both had very nice, high-end yarn. In one, the prices were clearly marked, but tracking down help would have been tough. In the other, help would have been easier to get. Also, we walked into the second store very near closing time. And it was absolutely OK. Overall, both were good experiences. This weekend, I took my gift certificate to a local yarn store, very well established, nice part of town...and I wanted out almost as soon as I got in. Don't know much, don't really know what to ask for, and I've never been in the store...obviously. My mistakes...walking in 45 minutes before closing time and also I think admitting that I haven't knitted much...yet. The ladies there made it quite clear that my time was limited, but I could certainly come back the next day, and then went on with their conversation.

This is a question that comes up all the time in our industry and I imagine it's very difficult for the independent shop owner to answer as well: What is the role of the independent store? I love all the independent quilt stores around because of the selection and the comfortable feeling that I have when I walk in the door, but I'm going to think twice before going back to this yarn store. The selection was OK, but I don't really want to feel awkward when I shop. I'd rather have fun, and help, and conversation, and really nice yarn to play with. Of course, as I was checking out, I noticed the owner (I think) perked up a little when I included some very expensive yarn in my choices...even after she told me the price. I spent A LOT OF MONEY on a very short period of time. Maybe next time, my experience will be a little different. Just as long as I make it in before 4:00.

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