Tuesday, February 28

Losing our LYSs

I am interrupting your regularly scheduled blog to present to you most of the post I recently sent to my local SnB email group. It has to do with the loss of another LYS in our city, as well as the closing of a craft store {Lewiscraft}. I find it very upsetting that we have lost nearly every local source for fibre, and now both Canadian crafting chain stores, and felt the need to express my opinion on that subject.

As for my opinion on all the store closings… I’m afraid I would have to disagree with Anne for the most part. Stores like Michael’s and Wal-Mart *have* affected these places detrimentally, as well as the internet. When CC {Crafts Canada} closed down, they said it was because they lost their lease, but within a year or so all of the other stores were closed too {strangely enough, they are still listed as a retailer under Bernat for even the new yarns over 5 years later!}.

I have a small independent hardware store at the end of my street. Remember when every neighbourhood had one? It’s like a step into the past walking in there, from the worn hardwood floors, enameled cookware, and a strange wall of crates that contain just about every nut, bolt, and fastener known to man. Their prices tend to be higher than nearly anywhere else we can go, but my DH and I do buy a lot there because we like to support locals when we can, and this store also supports our local community a LOT with local projects. This store is one of the very few hardware stores {maybe the only?} in Winnipeg that has survived first Beaver Lumber and McDiarmid’s, and now the big box outlets, Home Depot and Rona.

Our small independent LYSs are up against a lot. Our LYSs, while providing the service and high quality products that we can’t get anywhere else, still have to compete with the “big guys”. It used to be that in order to learn how to knit or crochet, you found someone you knew, and they took you to an LYS where they would help you with simple projects, forgiving yarn and the like. These days, a lot of people see the “learn how” kits or books at WM, and pick one of those up and a bunch of novelty yarn and go at it. I’m not sure about other places, but I’m much better with providing beginner advice than the dept. manager at my store. Customers simply don’t know of the wonderful world of fibres available to them at a LYS. Many of these people will never set foot into a LYS, or will simply shop online, when and if they want something better than what the “big guys” carry. They don’t know what all a LYS can offer them.

I rediscovered Ram’s recently when a cashier at work mentioned them. She complains that they are too expensive, but I find their prices very reasonable for the most part. I do buy a great deal of my stash at work, but that’s just my basics {acrylic for afghans, and cotton for dishcloths}, and the occasional novelty for something. When I bought my wool for my Skacel sweater, Camille’s was the only place I thought of going. When I wanted wool for my booger, the big wall of Paton’s Classic and Ram’s Selkirk at Ram’s Wools was the only thing on my mind. When my best friend bought a bunch of camo snowboarding clothing for her son, I went to Camille’s and cleaned her out of the last of the camo sock yarn and sent it off to her {she lives an hour away from the Spinrite outlet BTW}. I would go to places like Camille’s and {now} Ram’s before looking at work or at Michael’s for a specific project because I am educated in what I want and what I expect. With Winnipeg’s reputation for always looking for the bargain, and the lost generation of crafters, most/many have lost touch with what these small local businesses mean to us and what we do. The “big guys” offer a small taste of what’s out there for the new to needlecrafts, and often the Internet is the next place people go looking when they want something more.

I wish I had a solution to our problem here in Winnipeg. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to realize my ultimate dream of having a small wool shop /coffee shop. I don’t know what we can do to prevent any more LYS closings… are there even any more in Winnipeg? Wasn’t there a place on Logan Av.? Leona’s I think. I find is so heart breaking that we are losing these small, but so necessary parts of our lives.

[/end soapbox]

No comments: