I posted this in response to a question on Knitter’s Review. A user was asking for advice for a friend on starting up a local yarn shop. I’ve had this idea kicking around for a LONG time.
I’m going to put this out there, largely because I know I will never do it. But I’ve thought about it. A lot. I believe there is still a place for the local sellers of goods, yarn or otherwise. But what is needed is a new model that makes use of the competition rather than fights it. What follows is my train of thought and rationale.
I had a friend who railed against the internet and the fact that I bought so much yarn and spinning fiber from the ‘net. There are risks in that: can’t see the actual color; can’t feel the texture / hand of the fiber; can’t be sure of the quality. On the other hand it is direct from individual mom-and-pop producers / dyers / spinners / small mills. It is often cheaper than from many brick-and-mortars.
Then I thought of the eBay shops that have sprung up in every nook and cranny for people who want to sell their stuff in that giant yard sale site of the ‘net but are too petrified of e-commerce to take the risk. Why not merge the two ideas?
Do a sort of reverse eBay store. You, the vendor /shop-keeper of the brick and mortar take the risk and buy samples off line. Develop relationships with some online vendors (as I’m sure we all have) and showcase samples of their goods in your shop. Call it your stash. I would. People can drop by and take a look at what you have, have a feel, maybe even knit a sample. And, of course, place an order. You do the order fulfillment and tack on a handling fee.
You might choose to keep enough on hand to sell in an “emergency,” but there is no need to spend the thousands of dollars for inventory that are otherwise required for wholesale contracts. I envision a comfy setting, big coffee table, sofa, chairs, pile of yarn in the middle. People chatting, making swatches, eating pie ([;)] (or if it were my store, muffins).