Last Friday, I had a lovely visit with my friend, Louise, who is the owner of LK Yarns in Halifax. I picked her up in Hamilton and we
drove to Toronto with the intention of going on a yarn shop safari,
just as many of you would, if you were visiting another city. The difference would be that Louise and I were just trying to see what folks in Toronto are looking for in their LYS (as a matter of comparison with our own shops, in our own home towns.)
What a lovely experience. As you might guess from the logos to the left, we got to visit Lettuce Knit in Kensington Market, (the day before their big knit-in took place,) The Naked Sheep in the Beaches, and the Wool Mill on the Danforth (Toronto's oldest knitting store, we were told - quite an accomplishment considering all of the changes in the crafting and outside world in the past 50 years).
I must admit that we did not reveal ourselves to be yarn store owners as our time was limited and we knew that we'd probably end up chatting our heads off with the people in each store and not get around to the minimum of 3 stores that we had set out to visit. On this day, we were just appreciative knitters from out of town, and were so pleased to see that the warmth which really makes a special visit to a nice LYS was to be found at each store. Now let me be up front: we were in no way out to judge, or steal ideas from other knitting stores, or to scout out who sells what. Both Louise and I know from our own experiences, that each city (and in Toronto's case, each neighbourhood) has it's own special flavour and caters to its own group of customers.
The internet has been a great tool for us yarn store owners, even those of us who do not operate on-line stores in addition to our "bricks and mortar" establishments. The net, and in particular Ravelry, customer blogs, knitting chat groups give us an insight into what our customers are looking for. We try to listen to our customers and hope to look into incorporating their ideas and tastes into our product lines. But what Louise and I concluded after our somewhat rushed but precious hours of shop hopping was that each store simply has it's own personality, (which probably closely reflects the personality of the person in charge, is my guess.)
If you check out what shoppers on Ravelry are looking for in a yarn shopping experience, it can be lots of help, or lots of time to browse on their own. It can be someone to greet them at the door and chat about their latest project, or someone to just leave them alone. It could be room to sit and knit or it could be a densely populated store that caters to the scavengers among us. It could be a store that is "kid friendly" or one that gently encourages Moms to give themselves some well deserved "me-time" and find a way to leave the kids with someone so that they can really enjoy their shopping experience without worrying about Junior and the $35/ball of yarn that he/she needs to fondle, no matter how gently.
We are all different, shoppers and shop owners. If all customers were the same then WalMart would probably serve our knitting needs, but we have a wonderfully diverse group of people who call themselves knitters and crafters and I'm proud that so many of you have found a comfortable place to shop at the WOOL-TYME Kingston store.