Sunday, November 14, 2010

I tried to save a yarn store yesterday...

but I couldn't.  Sadly, our community is losing a much-loved yarn and tea shop, Village Yarn and Tea.  The shop survived for 6 years, which is quite an accomplishment in this day and age for a small business.  I have a special place in my heart for the shop and the owners and employees, so it was very hard to hear the news.

Six years ago, I decided to learn to knit.  I heard that a yarn shop would be opening in my neighborhood, so I was excited.  I also knew two of the owners from elementary school PTA (our kids' school, not ours!).  It wasn't up and running when I took my first knitting lesson, so I had to go across town to the snooty store.  I learned the knit stitch and began working on my first scarf.  It was a challenge, but I finally succeeded.

By the time I was ready to move on, "my" yarn shop was open.  I learned how to purl from Christy, I also learned how to make my first garment from her, a cotton tank top.  I learned how to make socks on circular needles from Ellen, learned how to magic loop from Victoria, learned how to use a drop spindle from Joni, and how to use my wheel from Barbara.  Sadly, I never learned to crochet from Deb.

A couple of years after opening the shop, one of the partners, Deb, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  At that time, I approached Victoria and asked if there was any way I could help.  She asked me, "Do you want to work?"  and I said sure.  So began my very part-time career as a yarn and tea seller, and many fun afternoons playing with yarn and meeting nice people.  That lasted for several months until they had people who needed more hours, and my job came to an end.

In a few short years, this shop became a mainstay of the fiber community in this area.  The owners organized a spring LYS tour and got many other yarn stores in western Washington involved.  They hosted great events, knit nite, spinning nite, knit fashion shows, trunk shows; they brought in famous teachers such as Ruth Sorensen, Stephen West, and Sivia Harding.   They showcased wonderful local yarns such as Yarn Pirate and Abstract Fibers. They were the first shop in the area to carry Handmaiden and Fleece Artist.  They brought in Kauni and thepluckyknitter sock and laceweight yarns.  They sold spinning wheels and featured hand-dyed rovings from local fiber artists.  The shop was always cheerful and bright with lots of samples.

They also served tea.  The teas were interesting and tasty.  At the old shop, the customers enjoyed tea from their own china teapots and hot scones.  After they moved to the new shop, the treats weren't homemade any more and the tea was in paper cups, but the atmosphere was still friendly and welcoming.

Sadly, money troubles got to be overwhelming.  Selling yarn is a seasonal business and when the shop partnership got tied up in probate after Deb's death, it was hard to keep the cash flowing.  Throughout everything, the employees were great, the stock was inviting, the shop was cozy.

I am sorry that I don't have unlimited funds to invest in this wonderful shop.  My friends and I did investigate whether or not the shop could be saved in time to take advantage of holiday buying, and the answer was no.  For us, at least, the problems outweighed the opportunity and we had to step back.

I hope with all my heart that someone else can revive this community asset.  Someone with energy, expertise, money, and love for the business could work wonders.  Sadly, that's not me and I'm sorry.  I feel good that I gave it some thought, some hope, and investigated the challenge. I feel blessed to have been associated with this good place and these good people, and wish the best for each and every one of them in the future.

No comments: