Knitwerks yarn walldoo-Doo-DEE! The number you have reached has been disconnected.”

I had to try. I didn’t trust my eyes as I passed by the corner where the store had recently been. It was dark. There was brown paper over the windows and it caused a lump of fear and sadness in my throat – like a friend had quietly passed away. Just like a death, I felt guilty because the last time I passed by the shop, I had a trunk full of groceries and figured I’d stop by another time. Turns out there was no “another time.”

I knew the owner of that shop – the only one located in my neck of the South Loop. Believe me when I tell you I did my best to be a one-woman wrecking crew back when I was actively knitting and acquiring yarn. I suppose it hurts to see her dream not last. She’s an intelligent, positive person so I have no doubt she’ll dust herself off and find some way to reinvent things to her liking.

Meanwhile, I get the feeling that many (predominantly) women who travel half the year from show to show or work feverishly in the basement, shop or studio to produce and sell competitively priced, high quality goods are suffering. Not because the goods are not worth it or that they’re not in touch with market demands. Unless you’re in the monied class or you have a rock solid job, the people I know are carefully assessing how each dollar is spent.

I’m curious if you’ve seen signs of struggle in this corner of the universe. What do you propose be done? Comment, talk among yourselves. I’m interested in your take on this.

9 comments to Broken-hearted

  • ML

    Oh, the photo caught my eye when I recognized the shelves of yarn. I was visiting Chicago a year ago and found Knitwerks after a long walk on a warmish day to look for it. The owner was so nice and had such classy yarns. I bought several lovely skeins and sat and knitted for a bit–I had walked a long way. She was very gracious and I had a nice chat with a young woman, new knitter, who lived in the neighborhood. I am sad for her that she no longer has that oasis near her house. Really too bad. I sense that it was a tough location to have a specialty store and she was a brave businesswoman to forge a trail there.

  • Nat

    Oh no! I am so sad to see her store close. She and her shop were so classy and welcoming.

    Yes, it is a really hard time to try to make it as any kind of hand-crafter. But, if you can swing it, it is the perfect time to try new ideas and directions to see if they work out.

  • My sister is a fused glass artist and participates in many shows in the Washington, DC area. Purchases are waaaay down this year, she says — at her last show (which she did very well at last year) she sold nothing. She'll be OK (she's retired and on a pension), but lack of sales has caused her to cut back on purchasing supplies.

    One of my artist friends here in Chicago quit participating in shows this year because of the lack of people buying — she rarely made enough on sales to cover the entrance fee. She decided to just focus on special commissions and work that came in via word of mouth. And that's too bad — her husband got laid off in the spring and still hasn't found a job, and they have 2 kids in college. She has a job, but the extra money really helped.

    My group, the Crafty Angels, is planning a sale at our church the first Sunday in December, and I'm somewhat concerned about what the response to selling our knitted and crocheted goods will be. We keep prices really low – but people have less to spend. Which means that there will possibly be less money resulting to give to the homeless shelter for seniors we support.

  • clasca

    It is always sad to see a local shop close because of bad results. I actually feel sort of guilty not to have bought more. In our neighbourhood lots of small shop owners (grocery, bakery, butcher etc) have a hard time to live through it all. Because of the busy life we all have to live it's much easier and quicker to buy your stuff at the supermarket. We try to buy more things at the smallers shops now, since we don't want them to leave. There's a lot of love and hard work put in those small shops, such a waist to see it disappear.

  • Oh no! I only visited that shop once, and it was quite nice. Times are tough. Actually, having a yarn stash has kept me knitting but out of the yarn shops for the past year.

  • Oh no! I only visited that shop once, and it was quite nice. Times are tough. Actually, having a yarn stash has kept me knitting but out of the yarn shops for the past year.

  • I'm so sorry…I do feel it – even to the extent of losing a "local" grocery (one from the state capital, family owned, which tried to expand to the far-SW of the state). It was a fabulous store. Folded in 2 years. ACK!

    As one of those small business gals, I'm lucky to have the mostly rock-solid full-time job, plus another part-time income, as yes, sadly, sales are down. But…Sales there are, and I work to make sure no one of my customers gets less than wonderful.

    I'd love to believe that the tide is beginning to turn. The one thing women in their basements can do is be grateful for no "overhead" like your brick 'n mortar LYS had to deal with…

  • Ahhhh, it's an awful thing when part of your community disappears. My sympathies.

    As for me, I find that crafting is a good way for me to save money, as making kid's clothing and handmade gifts is a MUCH more efficient use of cash. Thus, I have more money to spend on quality supplies.

    That made more sense before I wrote it out. 🙂

  • Alas about your neighborhood shop! 🙁

    I'm more conscious of this with book purchases than with yarn and supplies, I think. With physical books, I try to purchase them in local shops that I want to see survive.

    For yarn, I don't have a local shop that I feel a particular affinity for (although we have a lot of local shops), so I have a tendency to make most of my purchases online (or on vacation).