A New Shop
Well where have the last two months gone?? In a fantastic flurry of festivals, shop excitement and fleece sorting that’s where! So I’m going to pretend it’s September still and blog about the opening of my shop. I know you won’t mind time travelling with me!
Starting my business was a risk, as it always is. I wasn’t sure how well locally sourced, British wool would sell and I’d never worked in a sales oriented environment so I was dipping my toe in the proverbial business pond and taking it slowly. This was the only chance really for me to make a go of a new venture. I’ve worked full time (often working two or three jobs) for twenty years almost and when we moved up from London I decided I wanted to take a couple of years maternity leave! Finding a balance of work and family life was important. A market stall seemed the way forward, with a chance to build the business up, find out what my customers wanted to buy and live my dream of selling wool.
One thing led to another and after having my own wool spun from local flocks I decided I was really enjoying myself; learning every day and letting Northern Yarn take me to new places and new people. The market was great but I won’t lie, it was really hard work physically! Twice a week Andy would lovingly (with only a few groans) pack up the car with 13 laundry bags of wool, 2 tables, baskets, a heavy duty gazebo, a chair and boxes of patterns. I’d drive it down to the market, drop it all off and drive back to leave the car for the school run. Back at the market it would take an hour at least to set up, sometimes in the rain/wind/snow but the walk back into town was always a happy one. I didn’t stop being thankful at having the opportunity to do this (except maybe one very rainy day!) and despite the hard work, I loved it.
Having said that, I decided a year and a half was probably enough. Ha ha. But that posed a problem – I didn’t want to be online only but a shop was a big commitment, not just financially but time wise. I had a long list of British wools that I wanted to buy in, but I didn’t have the space on the stall or in the car! I had to make a decision. Then a chat with a friend down the pub one night suddenly had me very excited. Jess had been selling collectables online for years and also had a dream of opening a shop. As if by magic our (almost) first enquiry took us to Penny Street. A bright shop, nestled in the gorgeous through fare into town, where lots of other independent shops hang out. Even the address seemed perfect; 74 Penny Street.
We negotiated a September start date and the count down began. Although we got the keys in August there was a lot to do; full paint job, holidays to go on, festivals to attend (well you have to don’t you?!) both our 40th parties to arrange and then oh yes – fit out the shop! I will now confess that all in all we managed to do it all in about 10 days with my cupboards and slat walls going up days before opening day. Stressful doesn’t cover it. But as I filled up the cubes with my local wool, opened boxes of my Northern Yarn Lonk fresh from the mill, I knew this was just going to be an amazing experience.
And then came Saturday 2nd September. Friends and family filled the shop, Christine (Winwick Mum) was kind enough to come and hold a sock surgery and basically worked in the shop all day – meeting fans and talking wool! We took delivery of the world’s biggest sheep celebration cake and Ch4 came to film it's delivery for a cake baking programme. (Due to be aired in Spring 2018) Customers travelled from all over the UK and it was one of the most special days of my life. Thank you again to all of you for supporting and encouraging me!
Three months in and I love love love the shop! I don’t really get much knitting done but I do get to stock shelves, find new wools and talk to my amazing customers. I’m also learning that the colour of the stopper of a Royal Doulton collectable matters, where to find the teeny tiny stamp on a Swarkovski baby bird and that 74 Penny Street is my new very happy place.
If you haven’t already, come and see us soon.