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i'm seriously thinking of opening a yarn shop. seriously.

(54 Posts)
warthog Fri 01-Jun-07 19:13:46

but i need to work out my business plan and do the sums to see if it's at all possible.

the way i see it: in sw london there are NO comprehensive yarn shops. there are a couple with a small to below-reasonable range (ie. john lewis) but nothing that blows you away. i'm thinking of opening something that is BIG. basic brands (sirdar, wendy) with crappy acrylic as well as specialist yarns (noro, silks etc.) plus the middle of the road rowans and debbie bliss. but basically LOADS and LOADS. i'd sell needles (bamboo, metal, plastic, wooden and do-it-yourself range) as well as dyes and yarns for dyeing. I think if i open small shop with a view to expanding later it won't work, because there's too much competition. it's competitive edge is the very large range.

1. do you think i'm on the right track?
2. to get an idea of whether it's feasible, what is your average spend in a yarn shop?

NorksDrift Fri 01-Jun-07 19:20:51

I certainly think that the woman who opened Loop in Islington has found it much harder work than she expected so bigger might be better.Why not try to talk to her on the phone? She might have lots of useful advice.
(www.loop.gb.com)

Tamum Fri 01-Jun-07 19:24:41

Oh yes, very much on the right track, I really wish our LYSs were bigger. I can't bear to think of my average spend I'm afraid I do wonder whether the woman who opened Loop might be a bit wary of giving advice to someone who would be in direct competition though. It's the other side of London I know, but people will travel miles for a good shop. warthog, do you know the Knitters' Review forum? There are lost of people on there who have started shops, I've seen whole threads about it. It's predominantly US based which is a slight disadvantage, but OTOH people might be more willing to share.

Swizzler Fri 01-Jun-07 19:25:57

go on go on

London needs more yarn shops

I spend prob at least 30 quid a go

Tamum Fri 01-Jun-07 19:28:47

Oh all right then- I would say at least £30 but quite often more likely £70. I do buy a lot online though, so then I like to get my money's worth in terms of p+p

warthog Fri 01-Jun-07 19:30:21

tamum, knitters' review forum eh? is this the one?

yes, i suspect the loop woman might not be too forthcoming about advice. and could i trust her given i'm the competition? love the name norksdrift!

thanks for the encouragement!

warthog Fri 01-Jun-07 19:31:30

i'd have an online shop too, since i've got the stock i might as well extend retail space into cyberspace

but with internet shopping i expect it NOW and get cross if it's a couple of days late.

Tamum Fri 01-Jun-07 19:34:11

Yup, that's the one and this is the board you want. Our local LYS owner has branched out into additional online selling as she thinks it makes more sense.

Tamum Fri 01-Jun-07 19:34:44

Oh, cross posted- I will order from you then

kinki Fri 01-Jun-07 20:18:28

warthog, sorry have no answers for you. But I just wanted to wish you luck. You've just bought back some lovely memories for me: when I was age 2-8 my mum ran a big independent wool shop. Just reading your post suddenly bought back lots of lovely memories of playing (real) shops, helping stack wool, looking at patterns, well all sorts of things! It was a happy time for our family - hope it will be for you too.

warthog Fri 01-Jun-07 20:24:25

thanks kinki

if you don't mind me asking, what happened to it?

kinki Fri 01-Jun-07 20:52:27

We moved area, so mum sold up. She sold the business, so as far as I know, it carried on going as she left it. This was eons ago, back in 1977. Eeekk, am I that old? I've no idea what has happened since, what's the betting the row of shops got demolished and new modern housing built instead? It was in Woodmansterne, Surrey. Those were the days.

Bouquetsofdynomite Fri 01-Jun-07 20:57:02

If you can fit in a tea/coffee machine and a couple of comfy chairs you'll be rolling in it. Teacosy-related pun name required obviously

littlemisssensible Fri 01-Jun-07 21:22:36

It should have loads of patterns too, warthog!

A small yarn shop has opened just round the corner from me which is fantastic because the really brilliant local wool shop closed when it's owner retired.

Unfortuanetly she only stocks posh yarns, Rowan etc etc which makes everything a bit pricey especially as I mainly knit for my dd! But I can get synthetic yarns very cheaply from the post office so thats Ok (I can't wear wool or mohair etc so I'm limited with many of the more expensive ranges). BUT my big bug bear is that she has hardly any patterns so when I find a yarn I love (and I always pick the yarn first!) there is never anything really inspiring to knit it into!

rantinghousewife Fri 01-Jun-07 21:34:55

Sounds great Warthog, I must confess I was considering opening one up where we live (the wilds of Bedfordshire), as there are NO woolshops here but, not brave enough. I think the idea of covering all your bases with more basic yarns aswell as the posher end of the market is good. I find I use different websites for different yarns because the more 'exclusive' sites only tend to concentrate on that end of the market. It'd be mighty nice to be able to get anything I wanted in one website.
I'd be interested to see how you get on and... if you get the website up and running would you put a link on here please. I'd certainly buy from you.

rantinghousewife Fri 01-Jun-07 21:41:07

Forgot to say good luck.

warthog Fri 01-Jun-07 21:44:15

thanks for the ideas!

i would love to have a little tea shop in one corner, where you could browse the pattern books and mags over a cuppa, then wander over to the yarns and find the perfect one. but i really strongly feel that a very wide, comprehensive range is key.

warthog Fri 01-Jun-07 21:44:47

thanks rantinghousewife

i think it'll be a while before i get it going. i'll have to get the capital first!

florenceuk Fri 01-Jun-07 22:51:22

well there is stash and i-knits in Vauxhall, but neither are particularly large (I was particularly disappointed by i-knits which was smaller than I'd envisaged). You will be competing with John Lewis though which could be tricky. For your average to middling knitter, JL is actually pretty good and the staff are generally very helpful. I'd go to you if (1) you were close to me (2) you had a bigger range of yarns than JL but still stocked a big range of Rowan and Debbie Bliss which is in the main what I tend to use (3) you had a range of nice needles and held sufficient quantities of all sizes (JL's are crap) (4) you had chairs etc and LOTs of books/mags for browsing not just lots of Rowan mags (5) you had a nice knitting group which met regularly. A tea shop would complicate your sums I would have thought.

I would have thought you would need to have an online presence to make the numbers work as well. But agree that instant delivery is very important to make online stuff work.

BellaBear Sat 02-Jun-07 11:36:08

You could talk to people on the stich and bitch london website? http://www.stitchandbitchlondon.co.uk/

And I agree, i'd like a knitting shop with comfy chairs with regular meetings with knitters around who can help you.

I don't suppose you want to open it in St Albans do you? [wistful] Actually, we have a wool shop but no Debbie Bliss and no knitting groups as far as I can work out.

I would travel to yours though!

fillyjonk Sat 02-Jun-07 20:01:37

oh

god I'd like to do this if my life were not spiralling hopelessly out of control

warthog Tue 05-Jun-07 19:41:45

fillyjonk. hope things aren't too bad.

tamum, that site is very good - lots of food for thought.

i listened to an interesting radio 4 programme on bankruptcy today and my gung-ho-ness is somewhat dampened. i wonder whether the lack of large yarn shops is because of the large capital outlay required or because of lack of customers? maybe there just is no market.

at any rate, i shall be watching the success of get knitted with great interest. not having been there doesn't help comparisons. perhaps i'll have to go on a reconnaissance trip. strictly business you understand.

Pruuni Tue 05-Jun-07 19:55:14

Warthog this is my dream too so I am watching this thread with interest and a touch of envy.
Ideas for business: I wonder if a really good selection of discontinued yarns at discontinued prices might be cheaper in terms of initial outlay, plus would attract people to buy and then give you a selling opportunity? Find out what Rowan and Debbie Bliss are stopping next and buy up some stock quickly...They could only make up part of your stock obviously.
I think a tea/cake set-up would be lovely but in terms of providing a loo/getting premises inspected, maybe a PITA.
Really visible colour charts so people can order in in the colour they want instead of not being aware that it existed.
Assistants knitting, who actually know about knitting - I was in Jenners in Edinburgh listening to the Rowan consultant not having a clue what she was doing wrong. Not very confidence inspiring. Contrast with a shop I went to in Toulouse which had a table with three very soignee (older) women knitting and looking fabulously approachable.

Enid Tue 05-Jun-07 19:58:46

There is a knitting shop in town called Enid's Wool Shop

Pruuni Tue 05-Jun-07 20:08:59

I am thinking lots of acrylic baby cardies in the window, lots of fluffy trims, Enid?

We have a wool shop nearby that sells one type of bamboo, one type of cotton and two types of 100% wool. Everything else has acrylic or nylon or polyester. Please don't open a shop like that...

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