Lion Brand Yarn Studio in Manhattan
Photo courtesy of London Kaye
Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York City is closing on April 2, 2020. The closure was announced on their website and social media channels on Thursday.
A leading supplier of yarn to retailers like Michaels and Joann Stores, Lion Brand will continue distributing their yarn to stores around the United States. They will also continue selling yarn online, and at the Lion Brand Yarn Outlet in New Jersey. According to Lion Brand CMO Richard Ezra, the shift away from retail represents a refocus on their core competency: distribution.
“We are not a retailer – we serve the retailers,” Ezra said.
Lion Brand’s flagship retail store
Billed as a, “unique retail store and education center,” Lion Brand Yarn Studio opened on November 18, 2008, as a stand-alone concept store in Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood.
The flagship store created a place for customers to browse and shop Lion Brand Yarns’ full collection of yarn. “It’s been a dream of mine for over 10 years–to have a flagship store, a studio space at our Manhattan location, where we can display our yarns and inspire customers with our images and garments in a way that truly reflects the Lion Brand vision,” Lion Brand president David Blumenthal wrote in a June 2008 blog post. “In all of New York City, there are so few places to buy Lion Brand, we think you’ll enjoy the opportunity to purchase our yarns when you’re here,” Blumenthal said.
A space for creativity
Lion Brand Yarn studio hosted many craft events in their 2,000-square-foot store, including workshops, book signings, and exhibits of fiber artworks. CMO Ezra cited a decline in event attendance over the years, down from a high of nearly 1,000 students per year.
The store’s seasonal window displays featured elaborate knit and crochet installations. Fiber artist London Kaye created a series of crocheted window displays for the studio in 2017 and 2018. “It was always such a joy being in the Lion Brand Yarn Store and even more special getting to dress the windows,” said Kaye. “My favorite window I worked on was for the winter season. I used a whole variety of yarn colors and textures. Not only was the crochet inside the window, but it also leaped outside, covering the facade of the building in crochet snowflakes. After that, I created a different design for every season over the course of the year! I will miss the Lion Brand Studio, but that won’t stop me from using Lion Brand Yarn,” said Kaye.
The studio displayed a colorful world map in the store during the summer months. Visitors could place a pin on the map to represent where they were from. The yarn map reflected visitors from 30 countries.
Lion Brand Yarn Studio announced a 20% off sale at their Manhattan shop beginning on February 9th. The company did not comment on staff layoffs related to the store closure.
“We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation and thanks to everyone who has visited and supported the Lion Brand Yarn Studio throughout the years. We will cherish the friendships and community we have cultivated over the past 11+ years and will continue to be inspired by all that we have witnessed from you,” staff shared in a statement.
Erin is the textile designer and artist behind the home décor company, Cotton & Flax. She licenses her surface designs for fabric, home décor, stationery, and other clients. She’s also a teacher, writer, and enthusiastic advocate for small creative business owners. She lives in San Diego, California.