So. I’ve been derelict in reading the myriad of newsletters that turn up in my email on a daily basis these days. So I was surprised today when I opened the newest one from my local needlework shop to find that they are closing in December. I suppose I should have seen it coming… they closed out all of their needlework other than needlepoint canvases last spring, and the owner told me she couldn’t afford to keep a stock of canvases in the store. But the threads she carried were amazing — I don’t usually stitch painted canvases, but I’ve bought several there, and I kept spending my money there on thread at the least.
When I first moved to North Carolina in 1998, this area had five needlework stores within a 40 mile radius. FIVE! By the time I had moved away and come back in 2001, we had lost one of them, and there were only four. We are now down to two. One of them is a needlepoint only store that also has a web presence and shopping cart. The other is the cross stitch – focused store near where I first lived out here and that introduced me to colonial knots, twisted cording, and many other lovely techniques. It’s is now so far out of easy travel distance that I have to plan for a whole day trip there, to the art store, and to Costco to go. It’s been years since I’ve been in it because it’s so far away from where I now live, and the other shops were so much more convenient – and just as friendly.
I don’t have an answer. Sometimes when I go to a new-to-me LNS I am saddened by the way they seem to have developed their own cliques and exclude potential new customers. One of the stores I tried to go to in Oregon years ago would never sell me anything without trying to convince me that I had to be doing something wrong since I was only a college student so I couldn’t know anything about embroidery (usually they were trying to convince me that I needed a cross stitch pattern for my silk shading work, or that I couldn’t do cross stitch on linen, I needed aïda, the owner’s preferred fabric…). I wasn’t surprised when they went out of business.
There’s a lovely post on the FluentSelf.com titled “It’s not the Economy” about a store local to Havi. I think the sentiment can often be applied to the needlework stores I’ve been in over the years. We need to become more inclusive. Be found. Be willing to market ourselves. Run needlework as a teaching opportunity as well as a business. I don’t have the answers yet. But I’m looking for them. And considering expanding into threads and freestyle designs from patterns. Interested?