If YOU opened a new Yarn Shop

If YOU opened a new Yarn Shop, what would your goals be…besides selling yarn?

Would you offer any free services or classes to your customers? Why or why not?

What would you do to make your shop feel friendly?

What do you think makes a Yarn Shop feel intimidating, snobbish, or cold?

How far would you stretch to promote the art of knitting?

Would you need to be monetarily compensated for everything you do for your customers?

My goals would be to make knitting a bigger thing in my local community, especially with teenagers who seem to spend a lot of time drinking lager in bus stops.

I’d offer free taster classes, but then charge for courses. This would hopefully draw people in but still be sustainable for the business.

to make the shop friendly, I’d leave the door open as much as possible, have the checkout in the middle of the floor and serve free teas and coffee’s to browsers. Also, I’d have knitting tables set up for people to come in and have meetings or just sit and knit. (Obviously, my store has a lot of space :teehee: )

Intimidating, snobbish and cold stores are the ones that seem like a club - where everybody in it knows everybody else and strangers feel on the outside. I’d make it a point to welcome everybody into the store and offer help to all, but not in an over-your-shoulder overpowering way.

I’d stretch quite far to promote knitting - I’d have open days and Knit In’s and fun things like that. In an ideal world - I’d offer a Home service once a week, where I’d take a selection of Yarns into the community centres or even into peoples homes for those that can’t get out.

I would not need money for everything - I’d want to sustain my business but there are things that are more important than money, like community spirit, helpfulness and knitting!

Now I’ve said all that I wanna go and open a store!!!

I’m looking to open a place near my home. Right now I’m just kind of researching how to make a business of this kind work.

My fantasy is to have a store large enough to offer tons of fabulous yarns and still have room for a sofa, a love seat perhaps and some chairs and/or some throws pillows for floor sitter like me, so people can come in when ever they want to and just knit and talk to their fellow knitters. I’d also have coffee and tea and snacks like scones and quick breads.

I would offer KH discounts (which would probably make my shop go broke, but you all are so great how can I not offer a discount?) I would also like to offer summer knitting and crochet camp for kids, you know, like a couple of days a week for about 3 hours or so in the summer and make Saturday mornings between 9 & 12 kids time.

And I like to do community outreach, like knitting for charities like Women Against Abuse.

I want my place to feel like your best friends living room that just happens to have the biggest stash ever.

:muah: :hug:

Nadja xxx

I would have plenty of space, plenty of room to sit and knit, and make sure that a “clubby” atmosphere did not develop. I would have lots of classes. A cafe would be AWESOME! One think a LYS near me does is great, they have drop in hours for help every day, and it’s free if you bought your yarn from them. If you bought it elsewhere, you can still come for help, just pay $5. I think this is a GREAT way to welcome new customers! Most LYS won’t want to help you if you didn’t buy there which I think is petty and short-sighted. That’s how you win hearts and wallets!

Great topic–a subject close to my heart!!!

I would hire people that knew how to at least crochet and knit, and part of the condition for employment would be that they [color=red]MUST[/color] like working with people. That means greeting people with a smile and a “hello” when they come in. To me, that’s a big part of the overall first impression of a “friendly” LYS–whether you’re ignored or your presence is acknowledged. If a new customer feels a store is “clique-ish”, they may not want to return (I know I don’t want to come back). It’s great to acknowledge return customers and have a friendly repoire, but I think sometimes stores can ignore the new customer…it’s like they’re “too much work” or something. That can make a LYS feel cold and snobby.

Customer service is why people keep coming back, even if your prices may even be a bit higher than somewhere else. That means (besides a friendly work staff), providing things at no charge, which may include helping someone to fix a mistake, rolling a hank into a ball, and maybe offering a free class here or there. When you give excellent customer service, people will ALWAYS come back, and best of all, they’ll recommend a friend (or two!). Offering classes like a “mother/daughter” knitting class is fun–my LYS offers this and although I haven’t been able to take advantage of it, I’d LOVE to do it and I think it’s a GREAT idea.

Offering some classes on things other than knitting might be a good way to promote knitting–say you offer classes on spinning and crocheting (and personally, IMHO, I think that LYS should offer classes with at least crocheting in addition to knitting). You might have someone that is taking those classes show an interest in learning how to knit if they don’t already know how.

Keeping an “ear to the ground” and offering a variety of projects for all age groups is important. There are child and teen knitters that may appreciate something really fun and funky, adult knitters that may want to try something that’s really in style or something classic; maybe you have those that just like to make things like charity gifts/prayer shawls, etc. And don’t forget projects that might appeal to the male knitter, too.

I also think that offering at least one evening here or there for a “sit and knit” where knitters can come together to work on their own projects to “fellowship” as well as get help on patterns would be really nice. One LYS near me has these once a month I think and they serve lasagna during it!!! :happydance: Not very safe for messy people like me because I can see sauce stains on my knitting, but how fun does that sound??? They also have one night a month where there is knitting after store hours until midnight, which would be fun–almost like a sleepover!

How about sales and discount coupons? I base many of my projects off of what is on sale at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or Joann’s (both yarn and needles) during the week and if there’s a coupon available. At my LYS, there never seems to be a sale on anything, so I just don’t go. But because I get a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby and Joann’s, you can bet I will go almost every time to either of them (or both!) to buy something! Like everybody else, I’m on a budget, and I just can’t afford to constantly pay full price on everything.

Keeping current with mailings would be nice. I’m on both of the LYS’ mailing lists, and I never seem to get anything. :pout: Hopefully, the LYS can have a current website which includes classes, current sales, upcoming events, etc. posted on it, so if paper mailings are too costly, then at least making sure that you include a business card with every purchase (or one of those business card magnets) that has the website for the store listed on it would be a great way for at least some customers to keep in the loop with things, but again, not everybody has access to the internet, so some paper mailings would probably be necessary. I tend to prefer paper mailings too because I don’t always remember to check websites regularly for things (or the websites are so outdated or lack good information that it isn’t really helpful anyway), but the paper I’ll stick on my fridge or in my planner where I won’t forget about it.

One last thing–offering a great selection of supplies (besides yarn) is really necessary. There’s only 2 LYS in my area (neither one of them are close by, either), and you wouldn’t believe the tiny selection of knitting needles sizes and brands they have! It’s very frustrating! You can’t knit without needles! :wall: So offering a variety of needles–straights, DPN’s, circulars, wood or bamboo, metal, etc.–is really important, along with other things that knitters need that they can’t find in the small knitting sections of the Michael’s, Hobby Lobby’s, Joann’s, etc.

I guess the sky is the limit for how much someone is willing to promote knitting and make it accessible to the public, but for me, superb customer service is non-negotiable…it’s priority and key. No matter what else they offer, if their customer service is bad, I’ll never come back. Every customer walking in the door is a potential repeat/long-term customer, and should be treated as such.

Ideally, I’d have a little room to move around the store, even though retail space is very expensive. I don’t find a crowded store very conducive to browsing.

Of course, it would be nice if you treated the guys as well as the women, and didn’t assume they were there with their wife or picking up some yarn for their mother.

Comfy chairs to knit in would be great so more experienced knitters could kibbutz with the beginners and help them over the rough spots. Free needles would be cool (kidding).

I’m a hard core capitalist, so I say charge for any classes, maybe a big discount on beginner classes. My attitude is that if you offer it for free, people wouldn’t value it quite as much (and might not feel obligated to show up, which would be a waste of the teachers time and the available space for the classes).

I agree with all the ideas above- drop in places, comfy chairs, making everyone feel welcomed and experienced employees. My addtional idea is a “loyalty” club type program. i.e. you spend $200 in my store, you get 1 item 50% off or something like that.

And definitely keep an updated website with your CURRENT classes, yarns, hours, etc. I can’t tell you how many sites I visit looking for this month’s classes only to see the site hasn’t been updated in 2 months. These days, the web is the first place most folks look for info.

And for beginners classes I would offer a “kit” style where the fee includes the proper yarn, needles, and a tapestry needle or whatever is necessary for the beginner project.

just my opinions… :slight_smile:

What a great topic!! If I was going to open a yarn shop I’d definitely make it the friendliest atmosphere I possibly could. I wouldn’t want people to come in and feel uncomfortable because I hate that when I go into a store…everyone should feel like they are friends with the people who work in the shop. I’d hire friendly people who would have to knit so they could give advice to people. I’d have the employees and shoppers write reviews of yarn they’ve used, so it’d go next to that yarn maybe with some pictures of projects they’ve done with that yarn so people could know if others liked the yarn and what it might look like when it was knitted up.

I’d love to have a section of the store with comfy chairs and couches so people could just come in and knit if they want…maybe have some coffee or tea too. I think I’d also have a time set aside a few times a week that was a little more organized so people could get together and knit, share ideas, patterns, etc.

I’d try to have lost of classes for a wide skill range, from people who want to learn to knit, to those who want to learn more complicated techniques….but I’d probably charge for the classes since you’ve gotta make some money to stay in business. Once or twice a week I’d have a help time that people would come in and ask questions they might have about a project they’re working on.

I think in general I’d just want my store to really promote knitting to people so more would take an interest in it…especially some younger people. I’d make sure that I had a wide variety of patterns and different yarns, so there would be things that teens and young adults would want to knit. It’d just be a fun place to go where everyone would feel welcome!

Would you offer any free services or classes to your customers? Why or why not? [color=blue]One major thing I would want to do is to have a monthly “Sit and Knit a Bit” sessions where we have some yarn friendly snack foods. (ie: not wet foods) where everyone is encouraged to become friends. I would also have once a week scheduled charity knitting sessions and a yarn donation basket set up for that very project. [/color]

What would you do to make your shop feel friendly? [color=blue]comfy seating, a nice communal table, caring staff, a pleasant color scheme, organize organize organize, please pet me signs on new products, making everything easy to find, easily accessable shelving. [/color]
What do you think makes a Yarn Shop feel intimidating, snobbish, or cold? [color=blue]Staff who are “cliquish”. Do NOT touch signs. Uncomfortable, austere furniture. [/color]

How far would you stretch to promote the art of knitting? [color=blue] As far as I could.[/color]

Would you need to be monetarily compensated for everything you do for your customers? [color=blue]No. Not at all. As long as I am not taken advantage of. [/color]

I would offfer beginner, indtermediate and advanced classes. The advance classes could give input into what new project or skill they want to learn. I would want a staff that was knowledeable about the product and different ages to appeal to different aged customers since some of the “younger knitters” on KH feel the LYS is full of older somewhat unfriendly people. I would offer classic magazines for sale and newer ones like Knit1 for the younger kntitters. I would want a mix of knitters and crocheters b/c it is a LYS and people buy yarn for both.
I don’t know if I like the idea of a cafe though. B/C when you deal with food there are so many health regs that mustt be followed. I would offer bottled water, colas, tea and coffee and that’s it.
Nadja~ I :heart: :heart: the idea of a Sat morning kids club~ what a great way to create new customers for both parent and child. I also like the idea of a knit for charity~ what a great idea. Of course, big comfy chairs and couches and a huge kitchen table for people to drink and knit and get acquainted. I also would have a cat or bird b/c I love animals. It is too much fun watching the cats “dance with the yarn”.Although I know some people have allergies. :pout: Ii also would have it always smell good… like candles or diffusers in the air.
I would post my shop online b/c of customers like me who check it out there first. :eyebrow:

My other thought about the classes is that YES I would charge for them. For many people time=money and if people put their $$$$ down for a class they are more likely to show up. They are less likely to waste my time and their~also if you buy X amt of purchases you could get a coupone for a free class or a coupon for their next purchase :eyebrow:

Artlady ~ are you wanting to open a shop~?

I think my current LYS is a model of success. If anyone wants to know how to successfully run a yarn shop, they should copy them in most respects. On knit nights people drive from far away, passing up all other kinds of yarn stores, to come to this place. The people are kind, they help you out for free during knit night, they offer advice when you need it, but let you browse at peace when you don’t. Their prices are competitive, and frankly, I wouldn’t buy much there is they weren’t. They have great hours so that the store isn’t open only to people who don’t work traditional hours. They have knit-up store samples, and couches where you can sit and work.

The one thing they do not have enough of, and this goes for most lys, is crochet stuff. Most of the people there don’t know how to crochet. We use yarn, too. I saw someone come in. She didn’t know whether she wanted to learn to knit or crochet. She wanted to make a dog blanket. But of course she was encouraged to knit, especially since of the people working there, no one could actually even help her with crochet because they didn’t know how. Treating crocheters like outsiders makes them not want to come to your store, and there was a thread about this a year or so ago on a crochet forum. 1/2 the yarn stores have actual knit-specific terminology in their names. They have crochet books on their shelves, but I’d be surprised if they sold since the people working there don’t suggest crochet projects and don’t know how to do the craft. I was looking for a type of crochet pattern there last week, but no one could help me and so I just went home and ordered stuff online.

Everyone has such wonderful ideas I don’t think I can add much but that I would have a “kids” class at least one Sunday a month where parents can bring their kids in to learn to knit. I would offer a kit (at a very small fee) and teach a scarf of something of the like. Not only would it be great for the community but if the parent knits and is anything like me I cannot walk out of a knit store without buying something…lol.

Second would be “doo dads”. I’d stock as many as humanly possible and as unique as possible. As a knitter I’m a sucker for a gadget, bobble or anything cute relating to knitting that I can get my hands on.

Like many of you, I think my own area LYS rocks!

Let me know when you all open your stores, I’ll be first in line!

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

My only complaint about my LYS is that it does not have a web site. They do sell on e-bay but a nice website with a picture of the inside of the store may do wonders. :happydance:

If I had a yarn shop…

I would have a knit-a-long project every month. There would be a display of the finished project, with a list of the requirements (yarn, needles etc). You could purchase it as a kit, and everyone could submit pictures of the finished project at a meetup at the end of the month. And because everyone who worked at the store would know about the project, they would be ready to answer questions about how to do the different steps.

I would try to make it as non-claustrophobic as possible. I don’t like it when I feel like yarn will fall on me

I would place custom orders from retailers out-of-country so that if someone really really really wanted that knitting bag from wherever, they wouldn’t have to find an online retailer to do it, they could come to me :slight_smile: (Can you tell that there is a knitting bag I really want, but don’t want to buy online?)

I would have an espresso machine because I love mochas! :happydance:

I would put signs up in the store (a big whiteboard or chalkboard) that lists course times, snb days, hours, new shipments, what the project-of-the-month is, etc in BIG FRIENDLY LETTERS that can be read.

I would use a computer and a bar code scanner, so that someone can’t pull the “but it was in the sale bin!” trick on me (I saw someone do that once, it wasn’t cool). It would also make it easy to determine what the price of everything was, and if anything bad should happen to the store I would be able to tell the insurance company exactly what I had.

But I don’t want to give away all my ideas… :teehee:

ArtLady- How funny is this. I was just thinking on my way to work this morning that it would be nice to have a LYS in my area. The only stores here that sell knitting items are Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart, and it’s not much of a selection. I’m going to a JoAnn’s on Saturday when I go visit my parents, but I think a LYS would be really cool to have. I like all the ideas everyone is coming up with! Sounds like they would make some pretty cool shops!!!



Such GREAT INPUT!!! Thanks to all!!!

If you have a LYS…a shop that you [color=red]love[/color] and would like to see prosper…what would it hurt to email your yarn shop owner a link to this thread?? She can take ideas she likes…and feels can be implemented successfully…to make the shop a wonderful environment and an asset to the knitting community!

I have a favorite LYS…and I want to see her “make it” over the long haul.
Her shop is relatively new on the scene, with great potential! We need her in our community! We need her to succeed!

[color=brown]An IDEA [/color]that came to me (because of your Posts!) is:
Offer a mother-daughter knitting class…at half price…two for the price of one. (guy knitters: this could include you, too…any combination of parent/offspring!)

**[color=blue]A 2nd idea[/color]: once a month, offer FREE BEGINNER KNITTING classes…to the first *10 that sign up.(*you decide the number you can handle) Ask a $20 deposit, refundable if you show up! The class would be basic “cast on and knit stitch”…maybe a scarf! The class would require you to bring your own bamboo needles and any kind of worsted weight yarn. The class would be just 2 hours long. I think this would promote the art of knitting, don’t you? Conducted by the owner of the shop would add a personal touch! It would forge a bond of friendhip between the customer and the shop owner.

[color=red]A THIRD IDEA[/color]: offer a free basic knitting class, to be taught by an experienced knitter…not necessarily a shop employee…and her reward is a discount on her yarn purchases for a month. This kind of class would be one knitter helping another knitter…like tutoring. But, for free to the newbie. The benefit to the shop owner is this: she isn’t using HER TIME to conduct a free class…but she IS promoting the art of knitting! Her cost? A little discount on yarn for the teacher of the class. Or something like that. I am sure the idea needs tweaking.

Do you think that knitting classes are AFFORDABLE by and large? Has the pricetag on a knitting class ever caused you NOT TO take the class? Would you take more specialized techniques classes if they were priced differently? Would you take, for example, Entrelac or Magic Loop classes if a one-time, two-hour class was offered for ~$20…with the option to sign up for “in-depth classes at the standard amount”?

My thoughts are: “quick learners” would move on and polish the technique by themselves…but knitters who want additional “hands-on”, “in-depth” teaching will know what they are getting themselves into! The startup basic class will clue you in on: do I like the technique at all and do I want to continue a more in-depth knowledge of the technique?

And finally, do you think NEW KNITTERS could be helped into the fold by the offering of a FREE basic knitting ‘startup class’??

Well, we do have a good thread here, and I want to thank all of our Posters! But, keep the juices flowing! Keep your ideas coming!

:cheering: :cheering: :cheering: :cheering: :cheering: :cheering: :cheering:[color=red][/color]

artlady… i live fairly close… where is your friends shop? i am a new knitter, and so far have been a little shy about going to an actual LYS (just joanns, michaels and wally world :oops: ). i dont want to look akward and feel like i am intruding… :eyebrow: