Enquiring Minds…

I have naturally been thinking a lot about yarn stores lately. I’ve been reading comments that have been left for stores in cities I’ve never visited (yet!), and I’ve been thinking about what makes a yarn store special. I am fortunate to have several wonderful shops in my city (go Portland!), and all of these stores are different. They each have their own flavor and feel, and everyone has their own favorite for varying reasons.

So, what I want to know is, what makes your favorite yarn store special? Is it the staff? The selection? The classes? Maybe it has a cozy chair and good lattes, or it’s the convenience of being right on the bus line home?

I’m curious and I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell me what makes your LYS great. To sweeten the deal, I’ll be selecting a comment at random to receive a skein of Classy (worsted weight, 100% superwash merino) in colorway Deep Seaflower, by Dream In Color yarns.

Dream In Color has two great free patterns up on their site now that use just a skein of Classy. Check out the Spice Headband (for those clinging to the last bits of summer) and Van’s Twisted Rib Hat (for those ready to embrace autumn).

Comments

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by FirstThingsFirst on Sunday, Oct 14 2007 at 08:55PM UTC

Hands-down, it's the staff that makes a LYS great (or not) in my eyes. If I wanted a fabulous yarn selection at good prices, I could just as easily find it online. But what makes a LYS different from online vendors is the face-to-face interaction. My favorite LYS is one that isn't anywhere near me (it's an eight-hour drive away, actually): Green Mountain Spinnery's shop in Vermont. The staff there is amazing--very friendly, very not-pushy, and very knowledgeable. I wish it were next door to me!

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by MamaMay on Sunday, Oct 14 2007 at 10:00PM UTC

I have to agree with the person above on the staff but also the rules of the store. I know some stores won't let coffee, food or small children (never mind that the child is 2 weeks old, asleep and can't even roll over let alone "get into and tangle" your lovely yarn). A yarn store that is child friendly (accepting) is a must for me, how else am I going to get my little girl to be as fiber crazed as I am?!

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by MamaMay on Sunday, Oct 14 2007 at 10:51PM UTC

Ok, not to ender a second time but how does one DELETE a yarn shop? Sadly shops do close and it would be nice to be able to tell people that. Maybe a little grave marker next to the name so no one adds it again?

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by gnatchat on Monday, Oct 15 2007 at 05:51AM UTC

What makes a LYS great for me is the also the staff. When they are welcoming and helpful. I love to go into a yarn store and feel like they are there not only for the love of yarn but to help you find that special yarn and maybe a great pattern. I love when there's comfy couches and coffee doesn't hurt. ;)

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by counterculture on Monday, Oct 15 2007 at 09:14AM UTC

Friendly staff, neat and tidy selection and up-to-date merchandise! I love seeing something new when I visit and I especially love stores that keep "internet" populer patterns and materials in stock.

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by n3tue on Monday, Oct 15 2007 at 09:46AM UTC

I like a yarn store that is well-lit, well-organized and has lots of samples to show you what the yarn looks like once it's knit. I also like when there are interesting non-wool yarns because I'm not as drawn to wool as some are.

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by YarnTraveler (Stacy) on Monday, Oct 15 2007 at 12:30PM UTC

Mama May - When a shop closes, the best thing to do is edit the store's information (using the Edit Me tab) and make a note that they have closed in the Notes field. That information comes to me and I can delete the store from the database.

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I find this really interesting!

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by SusannaG on Monday, Oct 15 2007 at 12:55PM UTC

I think it's the knowledge and friendliness of the staff, good lighting and selection of yarn. Classes are good, and for me, so is stuff for other crafts (I also crewel embroider, cross stitch, and needlepoint).

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by fateofmine on Monday, Oct 15 2007 at 10:02PM UTC

My most frequented LYS is one that is closest to me. I didn't have a car for a couple of years, so distance was important. The other yarn stores in the area were pretty annoying to get to even by bus. I value the helpfulness of the staff and like to frequent the ones that are welcoming now that distance is less of an issue for me.

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by theotherkelly on Tuesday, Oct 16 2007 at 07:51AM UTC

Definitely, the staff. The owner of my favorite LYS always has a smile for me, remembers my name, offers me coffee or water, and just has a generally warm demeanor. I've never felt pressured to buy either; she lets customers mill about to their heart's content. I always leave feeling refreshed and uplifted.

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by Kiku on Tuesday, Oct 16 2007 at 03:21PM UTC

Like many of the commenters above, I think the staff is the most important aspect of any LYS. It really makes a difference when you go into a LYS and are greeted warmly.

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by mi_knitter on Wednesday, Oct 17 2007 at 09:55AM UTC

I don't know about the perfect LYS, but what will get me to return to a shop is a combination of atmosphere, customer service and selection.

Atmosphere is a pretty hard quality to define, but it involves lighting and organization, as well as decor. It doesn't have to be fancy: bright and open = good, without heavy perfumy smells. Samples up-to-date (my niece fell in love with a sweater at a shop and it turned out they'd only had a couple copies of the pattern and wouldn't ever have anymore. Time for that sample to move on!) Customer Service is key for me. I like to be greeted, asked if I need help, and left alone if I say no (and helped if I say yes). Selection is a combination of things, including store hours (if they're never open in the evenings - even one a week - I can't select yarn, can I?). I'm all about substitution, so a store doesn't have to carry every brand ever made, but a nice selection at varying price points.

Bonus: I love it when owners/associates are actually attempting to keep up with trends. Maybe they can't carry every tool, and they certainly can't be walking encyclopedias, but if a brand of needles has been on the market for a year and they still haven't heard of it... Haven't heard of knitty.com? You can't pretend the internet doesn't exist in this day and age!

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by Meanbean on Wednesday, Oct 17 2007 at 03:26PM UTC

I have to agree with the general package comments - today I visited a new shop nearest to me (still about 20 mins away, but nothing has survived in my podunk, apparently muggle town). I came back with The Biggest Grin for hours! The staff was incredibly welcoming, greeting me warmly without pressure, offering assistance, showing me around. She was familiar with knitty.com (bonus!) and actually had a pair of Fetching on display for me to try on and gave me advice on yarn usage should I decide to try it.
The selection is a big deal to me, and a balanced approach is appealing to me, with some sock, some sport and DK, and some Aran and worsted with a few chunky thrown in for fun.

Something that makes a huge impression on me is samples. This particular shop has samples of most of the yarns they carry knitted up into some sort of display. In addition, newer fibers that some of us haven't tried yet (100% soysilk anyone?) have been knitted up and then washed to showcase that end result.

With a comfy sitting area, good lighting, lots of yarn within squishing reach, and knowledgable friendly staff, this is as close to perfect as it can get without the entire stock being free for the taking :)

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by mandijb on Wednesday, Oct 17 2007 at 07:00PM UTC

I agree that the staff is extremely important. I've even commented on certain yarn stores where I've had lousy service. I also think that the selection is important too. I've gone to yarn stores before with friends thinking they were going to wonderful and their selection was so limited that I didn't want to buy anything. That's really disappointing. I don't mind paying for yarn but if your customer service isn't good and you have a lousy selection, I won't be shopping there!

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by knittinfiasco on Friday, Oct 19 2007 at 02:38PM UTC

Courteous staff is great. Those that care to talk with you and remember why you're there, what you've bought from them in the past, and don't simply turn away and chat with the 'in' crowd is the best.

One of my LYSs has a customer appreciation card - they keep track of how much you've spent on it and give you a $25 certificate reward when it's full!

'm also not so inclined to go back to a store where I walk in with a FO on and the staff doesn't remember me from a couple of weeks ago when I bought the yarn! I live near one of the biggest cities in the US, so if a place doesn't have anything special, I've got plenty of choices!.

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by Anonymous on Friday, Oct 19 2007 at 05:30PM UTC

When is the drawing? I don't see a date/time...

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by DragonCelt on Friday, Oct 19 2007 at 09:11PM UTC

You know, a friendly staff and a clean store makes all the difference. When you enter a store and people are there hailing you cheerfully as if you just stepped into your mother's home, inviting you in, it puts you at ease, keeps you there. One day I was heading home from a doctor's visit. I didn't have a lot of money but I had a knitting project. I wanted a spot to just be and so I stopped off at a yarn store and sat down and chatted with the employee. It was so comfortable and we both knitted and enjoyed a small hour, it kept me coming back, though it wasn't exactly close by.

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by ceels on Saturday, Oct 20 2007 at 07:50AM UTC

The things that keep me going back to my favourite local shop are the beautiful light, the great quality of their yarns and needles and the friendly staff. They understand that the yarn is going to take you by the hand and lead you out the door, so they are never pushy for a sale, they just let it happen.

There are lots of knit swatches in all the different colours and garments knit up as well. They have a good range of pattern books and a few bits and pieces for other crafts, too. All good quality.

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by pandop on Tuesday, Oct 23 2007 at 10:29AM UTC

For me it is two things, the two things my local LYS lacks. A decent selection of yarn, and clearly posted opening hours that don't prevent most shoppers from ever getting there.

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by Anonymous on Friday, Nov 02 2007 at 05:25AM UTC

I know of 2 awesome yarn shops in Beijing, China. Unfortunatly I cannot leave the address in the same way as if they were in the States. Is there some other way I can add them? With the upcoming Olympics and all people might be going...

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by Anonymous on Tuesday, Nov 20 2007 at 08:07AM UTC

The 2 most important things I look for in a knitting store:
1. The friendliness of the staff to ALL people.
I have been to some yarn shops where I feel that I've stepped into an "exclusive" club. The only people being talked to, and helped are the staff's friends! (I've noticed some were NOT even crafters!) Nothing makes me walk out faster than a LYS owner going on and on over the old customers, and barely notice the new folks coming in. How will you build your clientel?
2. You must have good opening hours.
When you are open 10:00-4:30 in the afternoon working people CAN'T get there. Also, yarn shops need to be open all day on Saturday. We just had a LYS to close. They didn't even go by the shop hours posted! Some days I would be sitting out front at 10:00. MAYBE about 11:45 the staff would walk in. Also, many times I was run out of the shop at 4:00 because the owner had to get the kids to Soccer practice! If you own a shop take it serious, and treat it as a REAL business!

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by Anonymous on Monday, Nov 26 2007 at 04:41PM UTC

I appreciate a yarn store that appreciates crocheters. Not everyone in the world only knits and spins. Some of us crochet and aren't ashamed to say so. I'm tired of hunting for classes only to find endless Crochet 101, but no 201 (not even any 102 or 103 level classes). I'm tired of the crochet patterns being relegated to the single binder on the back of the top/bottom shelf, hidden away in the four thousand books & binders of knit patterns. I'm tired of asking for assistance with a crochet pattern and being looked at as if I were a bug.

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