It's not all stitchin' and bitchin'
We’re into our fourth week of business, and we’re still learning the ropes.
The web page -- more specifically the web store -- keeps shouting for attention. The front window is a bit of a moving target. Patterns, both in print and on Ravelry, mysteriously come and go. The bill from ‘Accumula’ showed up out of nowhere. And there’s a sneaky little chipmunk who is trying to make his home in our back room.
We seriously thought we needed loads of food at the Sugar Bush Yarn Tasting, not to mention the three jugs of lemonade and iced tea. So we ate fancy bread with tasty spreads and drank lemonade for the following three days.
Why can I not access the store Instagram account on my phone or desktop, but I can switch between it and my personal account on my iPad? There is no one you can call about this. And leaving email rants isn’t helping either.
There is also an intolerable amount of counting in a yarn store. Counting skeins, counting needles, counting patterns, counting change. It took only a day or two to figure out that Cathy and I can count on each other, not with each other.
And who knew that passwords would become the bane of our existence? We are so password heavy we need an Excel spreadsheet to give us some order. We thank our stars that Cathy’s husband has taken it upon himself to be our ‘tech guy.’
On the plus side we are quickly learning each other’s strengths. Cathy has patience and focus. She maintains her clarity and poise through the ordering process, while I whither away within an hour. She loses it, though, when the store is in a shambles. Luckily, that’s precisely when I perk up. Let me put things away and I am happy. There is a lot of ‘putting away’ in a yarn store.
Our sales styles are a bit of a comedy show, too. I admit, I am a little lost in the store, simply because I have not spent a lot of time there. I live in Blenheim, so a daily commute is out of the question. During the Yarn Tasting, when we were both on deck, customers were kindly patient while I fumbled with the scanner and jabbed away at the sales iPad (no cash register, dang). A few people literally patted me on the back when I successfully completed their transaction.
Cathy had to employ sleuthing tactics to track down a customer to whom she had sold the wrong sized needles. Let me be clear, this was in our first week of business. She now has a ‘cheat sheet’ to help her navigate needle and hook gauges and sizes.
We’re also on the ‘getting there’ track with the daily cash out. That whole procedure has become less anxiety-inducing. At our first month end, everything balanced. I think that’s a good sign.
We’re also learning to trust each other’s judgement, although that really hasn’t been much of a learning curve at all. We’ve been friends so long that we can’t surprise one another. I know that the store is being run by the most capable, well-grounded, hard working person on the planet. Cathy knows that I will have her back through thick and thin and that I will whole-heartedly support all of her decisions.
Well, there was the issue of the Lichen and Lace colourways, but I admit Cathy was right in wondering why I didn’t bother to order the colours that had in the past proven to be the best sellers. True to form, I was smitten with the bright poppy colours and not so smitten with the muted greys and browns. I know now that greys and browns have their place in a yarn store and that we have a ‘sales history’ function in our inventory software for a reason.
We’ve also learned that we both absolutely love the yarn store life. I am blown away by all the gorgeous and innovative fibres and patterns out there. I’m encouraged by the creativity of others and excited about expanding my own knowledge and abilities. Cathy absolutely loves being in the store. Each day she is surrounded by gorgeous yarns and gets to interact with people who share a desire to create something that is lovely to hold and a pleasure to give.
When we look at what we’ve gained in the past four weeks we consider ourselves very lucky. We’ve been able to laugh at the challenges and our mistakes haven’t set us back. We’ve met the most generous people: the creators who appreciate good working tools, like quality yarns and supplies, and the sales representatives who bring those things to our attention and help us navigate the many decisions that go into the ordering process.
We’re especially lucky to be working with each other. It’s such a thrill to own a yarn store with a pal you’ve known for 45 years.
That chipmunk at the back door doesn’t stand a chance.