Posted by Jeanne Shrader on February 09, 2017
Here's a crazy thought: cooperation. Two or more people working together for a common goal. In most cases of true cooperation both or all parties involved benefit from the effort.
I had the most amazing opportunity to cooperate in a way that had many folks shocked last weekend. I was invited to bring the Yarn Truck to ANOTHER YARN STORE. And, be open for business at the same time she was going to be open for business and customers were going to be able to shop with either of us or both of us.
And, it worked! Amazingly well. We were both blown away.
Here's the back story. Early last fall I was contacted by a lovely person who wanted to know what 'rookie mistakes' I made opening my yarn store. I laughed, loudly I'm sure, and said "Heck, rookie mistakes? I'm still making plenty of them, daily." She offered a glass of wine for my laundry list of 'learning experiences' in owning a yarn store. I've been in the industry 13 years, she was just planning on opening a new shop. We sat down over a glass of wine at Trio and I believe by the end of the happy chatter she had a great list of what not to do, and I was quaking in my boots that I had been doing it wrong all these years.
That lovely person is Debbie Floyd who opened 'Dances with Wool' in Midlothian in October. When we talked and shared ideas and in that fall conversation, she invited me to bring Geraldine up some time. For a joint event, a cooperative event. That event was last Saturday, and my friends, it was amazing!!
Dances with Wool is a simply lovely shop. It is decorated with cute and clever. Comfy sofas, big work table, great light, amazing inventory, all the gadgets and goodies a knitter or crocheter could dream of. Even her bathroom is cute, cute stuff on the walls, nice soap, fancy paper towels. (I'm hoping she won't walk in to find that the toilet seat is broken, or that the handle to flush is on the ground...or any of my many other amazing bathroom misadventures I've seen in the past many years.)
We had a plan, kind of a loose plan, but a plan. I would bring the Yarn Truck up, park across from the shop and we would see what happened. What happened for both of us seemed like alchemy. The Yarn Truck was a little late....temporarily misplaced in Hopewell. (Go ahead and laugh....some times my navigator, Garmin, and the app on his phone are and adventure to travel with.) With the detour we arrived a little after schedule, got parked and set up, or mostly set up, and you guys were there. 'My' people were there and 'her' people were there and y'all shopped, with both of us. With nearly the exact same enthusiasm. We were blown away.
At the end of the day, we all sat down, Debbie and her team, Dave and I. And we talked, compared notes, laughed about how much FUN the day was. Dances was busy and packed the whole day, Geraldine had a line to go in and a line to pay. (Durn that technology...) They noted more new customers than ever, I noted several new faces and a ton of long time customers. It was a great day.
And everybody was better together, better for the opportunity to cooperate. Our bottom lines were better, our friendship is better, our businesses will be better for the effort to work together for a common goal. Our goal was to give people the opportunity to meet and mingle and shop for supplies in a friendly inviting atmosphere. For us it was the Truck, for Debbie it is her amazing space. For all of you who joined us, I hope it was as much fun for you as it was for us.
And here is my take away. Sure there were a few grumblers on each 'side' of our customer bases that pledged their allegiance only to 'their' shop. 'I can't buy Yarn from anyone but......' You know, you can. There is enough Yarn Love to go around.
Even though Debbie and I carry some of the same inventory there is enough difference in our inventory, style, and presentation that there is something for everyone in both shops. Do I want to lose you as a customer? Heck no!! I want to keep you and all your ferocious loyalty. But I also want to keep local yarn stores alive, I want us to be here in another 10 years.
And that means, if you are home in Richmond, or fill in the blank other home town, and you need something for you craft, go get it from the local yarn store. You can still stock up with me, arm loads of my patterns, piles of really easy knits that soothe your jangled nerves at the end of the day, souvenir yarn to last most of the year. But I won't be sad or mad or disappointed if you also shop for what you need at the yarn store closer to home. Keep coming in the door. Keep coming to look and feel and ask questions and get help or tech support. Keep supporting the yarn store of your choice. We can't keep going without you guys, and some of us are learning that we can be better together.
In sticks and strings and hooks,
P.S. We have had other great cooperative events with Cathy at Yearning for Yarn in Plymouth and of course we love Cotton Fields Quilt in Washington. Lori was the original person to offer cooperation, and for that she rocks too!!