Martin Luther King Jr Day
In 2015 a big discussion on diversity started in the knitting and crochet community. I will admit that because our store ownership and customer base is so diverse that I do not often think about the greater community.
But it really got me thinking. Could I name an African-American designer? How about yarn shop owner? Or yarn company owner? And while the larger community has come a long way in the past 5 years I still wonder how many of us could still answer those questions.
Most of the major yarn companies have added models who are people of color. And they have added older models and some that are plus size - finally realizing that the average American woman is a size 14. And there has been a nice surge in the recognition of designers who are people of color. Jeanette Sloan created a list of designers who are POC and I encourage you to take a look!
Small Business Saturday
by Molly ConroyUngerecht
November 29, 2019
In 2010 American Express introduced the very first Small Business Saturday. The goal was to get consumers to consider Main Street in their Holiday shopping. Wisely they did not try to take on Black Friday or Cyber Monday but to carve out a little time to act locally. For every $1.00 you spend with a small business, an estimated .68 cents stays in the community.
We have participated in Small Business Saturday since we opened in 2011. We even ignore Black Friday completely and we are closed spending time with our families. But we open at 10 am on Saturday with tons of savings and promos for our customers.
But we really love SBS because of the message of being part of your community. HOKC opened as a community store. We maintain our goals of providing a haven where people who love to play with fiber can come in, enjoy each other's company, get help, and gain knowledge. It is why we have a table available every hour we are open - an unusual thing for a yarn shop - and that we help for free on yarn from anywhere - an unheard of thing in a yarn shop. In fact, when we first opened I cannot tell you how many people told us we would go out of business if we did that! But we are still kickin'! In fact we continue to grow and thrive. Reps who stop by our store are amazed at the quality of work being created by our talented customers!
As more yarn shops close more customers are going on line. And I get that. Your LYS is now further afield and is not as convenient. But if we do not support our local yarn shops they will go away and all of the knowledge that is stored in those stores will go away too. So if we are your local shop, come see us on Small Business Saturday. And if you have another LYS close by - go visit them! And take a break at a local coffee shop and spend a little in your communities.
Artisan Faire Nov 2nd
by Molly ConroyUngerecht
October 21, 2019
Have you noticed that retail is really changing? Drug stores are testing using drones to deliver prescriptions. You can have your groceries or meals delivered. Amazon has become our go to place to find almost anything and even those hard to find items can be delivered to us in a matter of days - and sometimes even the same day! And the convenience of these changes are fantastic! But the one common theme is you never have to leave home. And while that can be super convenient, if you do not have other reasons to leave your home, these conveniences can add to isolation, loneliness and a sense of disconnectedness. And I fear that it may not be healthy for humans.
When I was in college I worked a summer as a cashier at a pharmacy. I would have people wait for me, even though there were other cashiers open, simply because I would take a moment to ask how they were doing and have a short chat. At the time I did not really understand how important this was, I was just being polite - just like my mom taught me! But for some people, this was one of the few human contacts they had each week. And as I get older, and my friends get older, I understand more personally how important connection is.
At our shop meeting the other day, our partners had a long chat about how to stay relevant in this changing world of retail. And logic tells you to close your brick and mortar store and go on line - it is cheaper and more profitable and has flexible hours! But for us, the entire reason to be open is the table. Open knitting (read knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning) is core to our identity - it is HOKC's raison d'etre. We love the fact that we have a business model that allows fiber fanatics to come into the store, seek help, seek knowledge, or seek companionship. We love that people have worked into their schedules time to spend in our store and that time at the table has become an important part of our lives. Thank you!
You might be wondering what the heck this has to do with the Artisan Faire... The concept of the Artisan Faire was conceived at the table. It was born out of the recognition that we have amazingly talented people sitting around our table every day. And Sue had the inspired idea of opening the store for one day for people to show what else they make. This is either our 8th or 9th Artisan Faire and boy has it grown! Charla has done an amazing job this year of coordinating the event. We will have around 25 vendors this year - some favorites will be back and we will have a few new vendors too! So come in and connect with other crafters and artists and get a head start on your holiday shopping - or just find something yummy for you!
Doors open at 10 am on Nov 2nd. Come check it out - here are a few pics to get you salivating...
Kiwi 3 with Bag
|E Spinner with Bag and Pedal||Ashford Joy with Bag|
CA Yarn Companies:
Lazer Sheep Yarns:Many of you have met Leslie or have petted her yarn in our store. Leslie is a mom of two in the San Diego area and has been dying for about 5 years. Back in highschool she doodled a sheep with a lightening bolt and years later that little sheep became her logo. For each new colorway she dyes Leslie draws a new sheep and you get that button with the skein. If you are anything like me you probably bought a skein just for the button – like Stuck in Gum Sheep! Leslie’s yarns are mostly vibrant happy variegated colors often named after popular culture and SciFi themes with lots of names that make her kids happy.
Elevate Fiber Arts:Barbara has only been dying for a couple of years. I remember when she called me to see if she could come in and get some opinions on her yarn. It was love at first sight/touch. It was right before one of our TrunkShows and we immediately invited her to join. It was a bit crazy because she could have sold out her stock in store that day. One of the things we loved is that Barbara sewed super cute knitting bags to go along with her yarns! Barbara’s daughter does all of the graphic work. When you come in, ask Barbara about how she and her daughter became interested in dying! We also love that Elevate has a commitment to the environment on a local level. For every skein you buy they donate .50c to ROWIA a non-profit that helps the San Bernardino National Forest.
Wanderlust HuesCharlene spent most of her life crocheting and learned to knit recently in 2015. Knitting made her want to explore color and what better way than through dying! She has a fun “stitch-to-wear” philosophy that keeps her yarns warm and lovely in timeless colors that are easy to mix and easy to wear with bases that are easy to care for. To enhance this collection she also creates some fun speckles and vibrant variegation. Charlene has only been dying for 2 years so this is your chance to meet and develop a relationship with an emerging dyer.
Trendsetter Yarns:Trendsetter is not an Indy-Dyer and most of their yarns come from Europe. They are, for the specialty yarn industry, an older, well established company. Barry Klein’s mother owned a yarns store in LA and he grew up in the business as they transitioned from LYS to Yarn Company. They are very ethical about where they source their yarns – most come from Italy and Germany which as part of the EU have great environmental and labor ethics. They have a HUGE variety of yarns from trendy novelty to super yummy cashmere and luxury fibers. They also have quite a few yarns that are organic and natural. We adore them as a company and they are fabulous to work with and one of the few Yarn Companies based on the West Coast. We are thrilled to offer kits for weaving and knitting at this event.
CA Accessory Companies
Becky CaracoWe have long loved Becky’s stitch markers and buttons and have carried them over the years. All of her products are lampwork glass. We have several hand beaten metal necklaces that are designed to hold her stitch markers – not just for convenience but because each marker is a work of art. We will only have these for today!
Slipped Stitch StudiosI met Laura fairly early on in Slipped Stitch Studios life span and immediately fell in love. Since 2009 she has been making some of the most fantastic knitting bags. Her specialty is sourcing fabrics that make you want to buy many – possibly even collect them – and buy the whole series! You will find many that based on popular culture. The bags are well sewn and well thought out.
Go Knits Bags
I love these bags. They are lightweight, strong, and easy to care for. If you are more subtle in your design aesthetic, you will like the simplicity of these bags. They are well made and will last you forever! We are excited to carry them for the first time.
Lil Sister Kit
I have long searched for blocking wires that work well. These are amazing! They are made of titanium, are very flexible, lightweight, and will not rust! You can wet block with no fear. They come in a little bag for easy storage.
EZ PZ Gauge
I did not realize I needed this until I saw it. This gauge ruler makes your stitches twice as large so you can easily see them! Even better, it has one inch and half in segments already built in without annoying numbers and symbols to block your view. You will never have to ask for help reading your gauge again!
We are so happy to have Nancy back with her array of National Park Hats. She will have all of her patterns with her - and if you have not kept up you will be amazed at her range! We have long loved Nancy's designs and every time she publishes a new one it become my favorite! We also kitted up the CA park hates using Berroco Vintage or Cascade 220 Wave/Effects. All of the kits have the right amount of yarn so you will not have to buy full skeins for tiny bits of color. And all of the yarns are easy care.
Suzanne is a designer and Sales Rep in our business. She will be here with some of designs and samples to try on. She has also brought with her pattern books by the Fickle Knitter!
First Annual Local Yarn Shop Day
April 21, 2018
By Molly Conroy- Ungerecht
OK, are you depressed yet? Take heart!! I do not believe that the situation is nearly as bad as that for our industry. But I will say that as LYS owners we have to give you a reason to come in! If we do not differentiate and create an experience for our customers we have only ourselves to blame if you stop coming.
Early on at HOKC we realized that we could never compete with Michaels, JoAnn’s, Wal-Mart and now Hobby Lobby on price. Think about it — all of those stores are within 5 miles of our store! We needed to be able to offer yarns of a better quality but still at a good price as well as some amazingly yummy yarns.
But even more importantly, we needed a reason for being. And our goal, from the very start, was to be a store where people could get a “hands on experience.” We knew we wanted a space that would allow us a large table in the store where people could gather all hours we were open. We knew we wanted to offer free help at that table during all of those hours. We knew we wanted a separate classroom and to offer quality classes at really affordable prices (our classes, taught by us, are still only $15 compared to the industry standard of $65) and to always offer quality tools, great basics, and some fun things too!
So, yes, Amazon has impacted our business. For the most part, we no longer carry books because Amazon sells them for about the same price as our distributor. But we do not necessarily see this as a bad thing — it has freed up both money and space for more yummy yarn! And Ravelry has had an even larger impact on how our customers shop for patterns and books.
And even with all of the changes with online sales, our store continues to do really, really well. We are strong, healthy, and growing. And thanks to all of you, we plan to be around for a very long time!
I think the future of the LYS is in providing fantastic in-store experiences. We plan to continue to do that and we also plan to add an on-line segment to our business. We realize that we service an ever-expanding area and want to make it more convenient to get our products into your hands. We added a YouTube channel last year to support our classes and reinforce the information we teach. We are exploring ways of providing distance learning — so the classes we teach in store can be watched on line in an interactive format. We want to continue to expand our selection - sourcing both great deals and also ethically produced yarns that help our larger community and to continue to support and build our local artists.
It is interesting for LYS owners to stop for a moment and reflect on why our stores are so very important to our communities. Those of you who have suffered a loss of a favorite LYS have keenly felt that loss. I believe the LYS is not just a place to buy yarn — you can do that anywhere — but when done right, the LYS is an integral part of our lives allowing us to meet new friends and find our tribe, explore our creativity, find a shoulder to cry on, a place to celebrate our successes, to learn new things, and find some yummy treats, and so much more!
So while this day is designed to celebrate the LYS, we want to also take the day to celebrate you — our very reason for being. Thank you so much for all of your support over they years and allowing us the chance to thrive as a store and community.