View Full Version : I have the chance to OPEN A YARN STORE! Am I insane?

04-29-2007, 08:40 AM
Ok, here's the skinny.

I feel weird even putting it into words but here goes:

The long part is that dh is moving his business into a temporary office space while he rebuilds his studio. He looked at a space and liked it and then after telling me about it, offhandedly said, "When I move back into the studio, you can open a YARN STORE!!!!"

I can open a yarn store.

The upside: I can open a yarn store. :heart:

The downside: There are already a ton of yarn stores in my area. There is one (maybe even 2) within 10 - 15 minutes drive of the location he's renting. I love the ladies at this yarn store. I would be in direct competition with the ladies at this yarn store.

This is my dilemna.
Like I said, there are a lot of yarn stores in my area.

What to do? What do you all think? Really, is this an insane idea or what?

What would make my yarn store different from the others in the area that would make people come there, maybe not instead of the others but to my yarn store, too?

I'd love to be the yarn store with a twist of some kind. I would love to have people say "Yes, I go to such and such's store but I also go to Susan's store cause she carries this and no one else carries it." I just have to figure out what that would "thing that no one else has" would be.

Thanks in advance for input and advice.


04-29-2007, 08:45 AM
im not sure what you should do... but that opportuntiy sounds sooo awesome!!!!! Good luck deciding what you're going to do! xxx

04-29-2007, 09:18 AM
As much as we all dream of having a wool shop that we can treat as a personal stash, or get rich from KNITTING! the fact that you could open a shop and intend to provide great service etc. doesn't mean it will be profitable. Most businesses go under soon after opening and suck up money before they flop.
With other shops competing and nearby, you would maybe need a really fantastic draw to get people in. You'd need tons of market research. Please be careful the idea of WOOL ALL AROUND doesn't tempt you to do something unwise!
To be objective I think you might need to forget completely about the wool part and just figure out what expenses and profits you expect and base your decision on that and don't be generous in your estimates... be conservative. Like when you swatch and you're desperate to get started on a project so you want the swatch to be right but you can't stretch the swatch even a teeny bit to give the right stitch count, if you do the jumper will be too small.
If you let the wanting to get started on the jumper blind you to gauge problems that mean the jumper won't work you'll waste time and effort... if you let the wanting to run a wool shop blind you to financial problems with keeping afloat you may lose MANY thousands of dollars.
Sorry to be negative... but new businesses are a lot harder and worse-paying than people think. I'm not saying don't do it... but I am saying don't do it unless you are very confident that you will have enough custimers spending enough to pay your expenses.
Think about how much profit you'd want each year, say an income of $20 000 U.S. for example (is that a reasonable number?). Plus overheads/set-up: advertising, website, purchase stock, shelving/changes to the space, rent, power, staff, and all the many things I can't think of. That's how much you'll want to take in: your expenses plus the salary you expect. Now divide that by 52, how much does that work out to per week? Do you think customers will spend that much each week in an area with so many other shops? How much money would people need to spend each day in your shop for you to pay expenses and get your salary?

If I were to open a new business I would really like it to be a wool shop. I'd be quite happy in that kind of shop. I hope it works out that you can open a shop and make tons of money doing something you love. But it's probably not the most likely option so be super-cautious and get lots of advice and market research etc. before you jump in.

Lots of people complain about bad service at their wool shops, snobby staff, bad range of stock, pressuring to buy really expensive stuff, not wanting to help with problems, so great service and being helpful to new knitters would be a good point of difference (if the other shops don't have it).

Good luck!


04-29-2007, 09:37 AM
Wow that is a great opportunity! I think it would be tough to compete with another store that is already successful, though. Maybe you could have an area of your store where people can get a cup of coffee/tea, sit around with others and knit, share knitting ideas, etc. Kind of like a knitters hang out.

04-29-2007, 10:04 AM
How about a "Yarn Cafe"? Combine it with a coffee shop.

Some complaints I hear from younger knitters (not me, I'm old :) ) is that LYS's aren't geared to them. Maybe there's something in that.

Edit to add: Sorry! KnitClickChick and I have great minds that think alike -- LOL

04-29-2007, 10:15 AM
Oh it does sound like a fun idea. But...
I would consider what you know about retail and running a business. Do you have experience or training in this? Or not? And no matter what the product is retail is retail. There will be great customers and horrible ones. Buisness expenses, Etc. Yarn you would love to stock but can't afford to. Not to mention building codes and zoning issus and employees and payroll and taxes.
Good luck!

04-29-2007, 10:31 AM
How about a "Yarn Cafe"? Combine it with a coffee shop.

Some complaints I hear from younger knitters (not me, I'm old :) ) is that LYS's aren't geared to them. Maybe there's something in that.

Edit to add: Sorry! KnitClickChick and I have great minds that think alike -- LOL

This is EXACTLY what I was thinking! The other thing is, maybe make it a yarn/gift shop. The ONE yarn shop I've been too (I know, it doesn't make me much of an expert) has just the cutest little gift items too and knitting bags that could be purses, and a HUGE variety of buttons, so I'm thinking they draw more than just the knitter!

Best of luck with whatever you decide!

04-29-2007, 10:44 AM
There may be a market in your area for a specialty yarn store. Perhaps something like a "cruelty free" yarn store. With all of the competition you'd have to come up with an angle that would draw in some sort of niche market.

04-29-2007, 10:59 AM
Or a shop for people with wool/animal fiber allergies?
Stock up on all the alternatives for them?

I agree with newamy about this. It's retail and retail can make you hate something you love. Be sure of what you're getting into. If you know bussiness plan ahead and make up your budgets and outlines. If you don't know bussiness find someone who does and go over all the specs.

Scout the community and other yarn stores and find out what's most popular, what's most requested, etc etc.

I would definitely add coffe and tea.

Good luck!! :hug:

04-29-2007, 11:08 AM
When my LYS started up, they were in a tiny building. The shop itself was about 10' x 12'. I was absolutely astounded by how much money it took for them to get started. You must place minimum orders with the yarn companies in order to open accounts. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars on yarn stock alone.

Perhaps it would be wise to speak with some people who are already in the business to get some idea of what you need to do. Preferably not any of the shops you will be competing with. :teehee:

Good luck!

04-29-2007, 11:48 AM
this could be a great opportunity! i will echo what has been said- study your options and research your area. check out knitters review (http://www.knittersreview.com/) website, lots of tips and info, and on this forum there (http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/default.asp?CAT_ID=11).i have been thinking about this too, only i dont have as much competition as it sounds like you have. good luck

04-29-2007, 12:31 PM
Yarnlady posted a similar thread on this late last year. she had a friend of who a LYS and didn't want it to go under financiallly..I think that thread would need to be researched here on KH or you could PM Artlady and ask her ( I am volunteering here service w/o asking of course :pout: ) but
what about an online store ?? is that more $$$$

04-29-2007, 01:07 PM
What to do? What do you all think? Really, is this an insane idea or what?

It's not insane. It certainly isn't what I would do, based on all the LYS owners I've known over the years. Running a yarn shop is extremely stressful, even during the good times.

One former owner said that she worked seven days a week. The shop was open for five days, then one day for cleaning (the public is so gross) and one day for bookkeeping. She missed seeing her husband at night, because she had to teach knitting classes at the shop to keep business going. She finally gave up the shop after sitting down and figuring she made eleven cents per hour, at best.

Another shop I enjoyed was run by a husband and wife team. They hadn't had a real vacation in nearly ten years because they couldn't find anyone reliable to run the shop for them. Their shop was lovely, but you could just look at them and tell it was really wearing on them. Luckily, they didn't have kids.

Give it some serious thought before you plunge. :neutral:

04-29-2007, 01:57 PM
If you are going to open shop, have a HUGE financial backing. It's already bee pointed out in this thread, but you do need to make minumum orders to open accounts with suppliers, and some suppliers require that you make minumum monthly or quarterly orders, which is a huge undertaking. Not to mention setting up your inventory system and check ou system (a lot more complicated that it sounds), finding people you trust to run the store with you (I volunteered at my local gaming store, and ended up getting hired... 5 months later, but it meant they were hiring a trusted employee that already knew the ropes, and could run teh store solo for large periods of time), and advertising and/or competing with the other LYS.

If you feel up to it, and think you can take the plunge, go for it. Have fun, and I hope you do well. But be warned that it's not all fun and games, unless you open a Gaming+Yarn store, then half of it is fun and games. :roflhard:

Actually, now that I think about it, how would an internet cafe and yarn store combined do? Deffinitly aimed at the younger, teenage and tweenage crowd, I'll give you that.

04-29-2007, 02:07 PM
I say yes. Do it. After all, what is the worst thing that could happen? It could not work out. Oh well. But it might. Go for it. Just make sure to incorporate so you can protect your personal financial assets!

04-29-2007, 03:16 PM
If you want to be self-employed you need to really really REALLY REALLY want it. You will need to spend ALL your time building it up, and usually it takes years to build up a small business. I don't have a yarn store, but I have a small record label, which is how I've earned my bread and butter since the beginning of 1994. In those twelve and a half years I have never stayed at home because I was sick - I always drug myself in to the office - and I have taken a total of 3 weeks "vacation"....that is the days COMBINED that I have taken off - in more than 12 years!!

The best thing you can do? Get yourself a partner or two. You can share the work, and if the business doesn't take off fast you can all work part-time and arrange your hours so that there is always somebody at the shop.

04-29-2007, 06:43 PM
There may be a market in your area for a specialty yarn store. Perhaps something like a "cruelty free" yarn store. With all of the competition you'd have to come up with an angle that would draw in some sort of niche market.

I think Mason is on to something here... you're not in direct competition, just "completion." For your area, this may be something that is missing. People would perceive it as "in addition to," not "instead of."
Eye / vision advice (http://www.health-forums.org/eye-vision/)

04-29-2007, 09:53 PM
I have absolutely no experience with business but I do have some things I do advise if you do go ahead and start your business.

1. Make space for a seating area for classes and sit'n'knits.

2. Try to NOT sell any super ugly yarn

04-29-2007, 10:33 PM
Thanks for all your insightful and helpful posts. Right now this is just a germ of an idea. Luckily, I have time to formulate a plan, weigh all the issues and maybe come up with just the right hook that could make it work.

I am aware of what it takes to be self-employed. I was a freelance graphic designer for a long time and my dh has had his own business for almost 20 years now. Dh works very hard to keep his customers happy. We do have a few exceptional employees but it still always comes down to dh carrying most of the weight. He travels a lot so most of the time, my kids and I are on our own. Our whole family makes sacrifices for the business at times. But it puts a roof over our heads, food on the table and yarn in my basket so I don't complain (well, not often, anyway)

I have to admit that the yarn store idea does play into my ultimate fantasy of what I want to be when I grow up so it would be nice if I could make it happen. Who wouldn't want to spend the rest of their days in their own little piece of knitting heaven surrounded by yarns and teaching people to knit? So maybe I can make that fantasy a reality (or at least a little part of it.)

RiverDaughter -- :teehee: you are too funny! I love the idea of an internet /knitting cafe. Y'all could come on over to my place and sit and post on KH and read Knitty all day long. Then when you found the right pattern or watched the right video, you could get all your yarn from me!

Sarah -- thanks so much for the well written and thought out advice. You gave me a lot to think about and I appreciate it very much.

Ainee -- the only reason we were thinking of the store idea is because we will have the space and it is very reasonable for our area. DH will be using it for his business until we rebuild his studio and then, if I can make something work, he will turn it over to me.

Mason -- you are right -- I would need to find a niche or I would just be another yarn store of which there are plenty.

jeanius -- thanks so much for the links. I haven't looked at them yet but I have them bookmarked.

I will keep you posted if anything happens. In the meantime, I need to start working on getting my instructor certification from the Craft Yarn Council so I'll have at least a little credibility.

Time for bed all,

Thanks again!

Oh yes and notes to myself: coffee, tea and NO UGLY YARNS!

04-30-2007, 09:15 AM
This is coming from a girl who doesn't have any business running experience - just B2B sales.

But... there is a store near me that has a really cool idea - they have a "yarn co-op". Basically, members can buy in and pre-pay at certain membership levels (ie. $150 or $200 a year) have that saved as store credit for the year. Be entitled to save 10-15% off purchases as a coop member and then they have quarterly meetings where the members help determine what will be stocked at the store....

Also, if you are web-savvy, concurrently running an online store may help you to move enough stock to fulfill the minimum order obligations.

I am a younger (at least that's what I would like to think, late 20-something knitter) who would love to see a down-to-earth shop where I could sit and knit for a few hours on a saturday morning and make some like minded friends!

04-30-2007, 09:47 AM
If you decide to go for it, best of luck!!! It would be an exciting adventure if nothing else. And I love Mason's ideas. You could make your shop something above the rest.

04-30-2007, 06:19 PM
Hi Susan! Oh boy, this is my dream Big Time. I'm up in the Catskills in a tiny town... surrounded by sheep and alpaca farms and the nearest yarn store is one hour and half away. But we can't afford it! You know esp if your husband travels a lot, it sounds like it would be ideal. I also live in Manhattan and I'll tell you, the yarn shops that win over the others are these places that either have a few big tables and various events (readings), sock night, guys night... but esp the ones that are really full have a ta da coffee bar and serve cappucinos and deserts. Always full of people. (my husband recently got an expensive cappucino machine and said if we ever get the yarn shop he'll make the coffees)

Well, good luck. I'd certainly go for it ha! And you never know, those yarn shop owners you feel are in competition with you might decided to move to Florida next winter!

05-01-2007, 03:33 AM
Before I say any of this, Let me point out I have no business experience. This is just me brainstorming, as I would preliminarily do if I were in your position.

First off, I suggest having fudge if you're going to have coffee and tea. Maybe some cookies or something, too. Its extra work to cook these items, though, but homemade cookies and fudge are awesome.

Have comfy chairs in addition to ladderbacks, and both coffee tables and regular tables. Ladderbacks are great for classes, but if I want to just hang out somewhere and knit and relax, I want to curl up in a comfy chair. If you don't have space, obviously wouldn't work, but if you have the space...

I would make a list of what goods and services are offered by the other shops in the area, and what their target consumers are. Then determine what niche(s) are left, and what items are base items that you should carry because everyone needs them (a selection of needles, etc.). Depending upon my relationship with the owners of the closest couple of shops, I might even stop over and discuss with them "I am considering opening a yarn shop, but I don't want to be direct competition with you because that is bad for both of us," and ask for advice, areas that there is demand for at other shops that perhaps you wouldn't think of, which perhaps they don't have the space or resources for. The nearest small yarn shops in my area (admittedly about 45 minutes apart) all seem to be on good terms with each other, and the one lady I would totally go talk about this with her.

ann in ma
05-01-2007, 09:17 AM
One thing that I see missing in the yarn shops I've visited is an awareness of what's "happening" online.

I would love to go to a shop and see the "hot" patterns actually made up so I can fondle them in person -- and maybe try them on. Is everyone talking about the clapotis? Have someone in the shop knit one up in a luscious yarn, spread the word, and you will sell a ton of that yarn. Even if they are patterns that you don't sell (like the Simple Knitted Bodice, for example), make one up in a yarn that is carried in the shop, maybe in a couple of sizes even ... and people can try it on to determine what size to make, and see it made up in various yarns. Knit up things from the new books that are out, and you will sell the books, too.

I can think of only twice when I was in an LYS and saw a pattern that I had to make. And I bought the yarn and the pattern right then and there.

05-01-2007, 10:21 AM
I say yes. Do it. After all, what is the worst thing that could happen? It could not work out. Oh well. But it might. Go for it. Just make sure to incorporate so you can protect your personal financial assets!

Yeah - it could not work out and then you'd be stuck with all that yarn :teehee: that you can write off as a business loss :teehee: