Should yarn shops sell yarns?8:47 AM
A couple of years ago I knitted a very time consuming cable pattern with an expensive supposedly good quality yarn. Turns out it starts pilling after wearing the garment maybe twice. Well, what can you do, avoid that yarn from now on. Then I happen to visit the same LYS for some other business, and casually mention the problem with the yarn. "No, there haven't been any problems with that yarn, it's a top selling top quality yarn." Right?! So the pilling is all in my imagination then? I wasn't asking for a refund, only giving feedback regarding merchandise bought from that shop. How difficult would it have been to emphasize and instead say "Oh, that is the first time I here someone complain about this yarn. I will take your feedback to the manufacturer, thanks for letting me know!"
On another occasion, I was knitting during a lecture and ran out of yarn. During the break I quickly cycled to the nearest yarn shop. Unfortunately this yarn shop did not want me as a customer:
"Hello, do you have Novita wool in yellow?"
"We don't sell supermarket brands!" was the answer, and then the lady turned her back at me.
Wrong answer. The correct answer would have been:
"No, we don't have that yarn. What do you need it for, maybe we can look for something similar..?"
"No thanks, I need it for this something that I'm knitting and run out of yarn."
"Oh, I see. Well, you can find that yarn from Supermarket X. Is there anything else you might need? Could I show you some new arrivals for the spring?"
Instead of making a supermarket yarn buyer feel ashamed of herself, she could have gotten a new customer. What she managed to do for me was to make me stick to the good quality Made-in-Finland "supermarket" brand for the next couple of years.
Until my friends told me that they were making a trip to a yarn shop in Tampere. I liked the idea and joined the group, and found the lovely LYS Kerä. Well, not so local to me, as it is some 160 km from where I live. There was a knitting meeting taking place, the shop was full of knitters, coffee was being served and the atmosphere was nice and supportive to all knitters. Of course, everyone seemed to be knitting something with yarns bought from that shop, so I can't tell what they would have said if someone brought a supermarket yarn project to the meeting. However, people weren't buying anything at that time, only enjoying their knitting. Since that visit, I've been taking my yarn money to Tampere.
You can have your own yarn shop business if you love yarns and want to be around yarns, but if you also want to make a living out of it then learning a couple of things about selling and customer service might be a good idea. I wouldn't like to see the yarn shops in Helsinki go out of business, but if they don't want me as a customer then I'm not going to force my money on them. Why is it so difficult to sell something? Well, selling is a skill and often when you go shopping nothing is actually sold to you - you have to buy it yourself. There are a couple of easy tricks for turning customer visits into profits. One easy example is to ask someone buying yarn if they have the needles for it. The customer doesn't even think of this as selling, but more as customer service making sure that the customer doesn't need to make another trip to buy the needles. And that just added the extra euros on the sales for that day.
A comic shop in Helsinki started charging their customers an entrance fee as they got tired of people just spending time at their shop without buying anything. If you are a yarn shop owner and don't want to start charging your customers entrance fees, but would like to start selling more instead, I can put you in contact with a sales professional who can help you turn customer visits into sales.
What kinds of experiences do you have from your LYS? Do they know how to sell stuff? Or are you happier if they don't?