Furls circular knitting needles.
Each quarter Stacey Trock rounds up news from the yarn industry (check out her January 2020 roundup here). This spring’s news is focused on COVID-19 cancellations, along with the ingenuity that this incredibly challenging situation has generated. Here’s Stacey’s report:
As the world ground to a halt this quarter, nearly every yarn-related event from mid-March onwards got cancelled. The first prominent cancellation was VK Live in Washington state, an early epicenter of the virus in the US. While the cancellations are too numerous to list here, The Knitter’s Review maintains a comprehensive list of fiber events that has been updated with cancellations and postponements due to the virus.
Policies regarding refunds for vendors have varied by show. Many shows organizers have already paid deposits to convention centers and are unable to offer full refunds, while others are offering partial refunds or a credit towards a future show. For vendors who rely on these events as a source of income, the double whammy of lost sales and the loss of booth payment has made this quarter particularly difficult to manage.
TNNA announced the cancellation of its May trade show this past week. An email to its membership read, “At this time, the organization is not in a position to make commitments regarding Summer Show refunds. Additional correspondence about finances in regard to the summer show and the organization as a whole will follow in the coming days.” The wording of the email left many members and vendors concerned about the future of the already-waning show and organization suffering from dwindling finances.
Local yarn shops (LYSs) around the country (and world) have been forced to close as all non-essential businesses have been ordered to shut their doors and social distancing regulations have gone into place. Those with active digital presences have been poised to take advantage of an increased number of people at home, keen to craft with a purchase that’s just a click away. Many online shops lowered their threshold for free shipping and some introduced ‘quarantine kits’ for those looking to learn a new craft in lockdown (such as this selection from Websters).
Although most of the world as we knew it began to freeze, nimble businesses were quick to innovate. Knitrino hosted a Virtual Knitting Extravaganza in the wake of the VKL cancellation. The Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival will take place May 2nd featuring 45-minute livestreams from vendors. Bayron Handmade’s KAL (knit-a-long) became a popular ongoing event for the many knitters told to stay at home.
Many LYSs began to offer home delivery or curb-side pickup. Sarah Peasley, an employee at the LYS Woven Art, has been experimenting with Zoom tutorial sessions for customers in lieu of normal shop drop-in hours. Brooklyn Tweed launched their Apart Together Initiative, a donation-based discount program designed to support LYSs. And many more innovative online experimentations have taken place, too numerous to list here.
For those who didn’t already believe it, the world is a quickly-changing and unpredictable place. Businesses that are creative, agile and adaptable will continue to succeed.
Financials: Acquisitions, Bankruptcies, Closures and Distribution changes
Compatto closes. An LYS in LA closed January 31st.
Lion Brand closes its Studio. Open for 11 years, the Lion Brand Yarn Studio was an innovative attempt for the big box store brand to move into the LYS-type market. Located in Manhattan, the LB Yarn Studio featured creative and revolving window displays, regular events and author signings along with its boutique lines of yarn (such as the Martha Stewart line) not available in big box stores. The final day of business was scheduled for April 2, 2020. It permanently closed on March 16th due to the virus. Read more here.
Janet Rapp replaces Susan Lane as Executive Director of Smith-Bucklin and TNNA.
TNNA co-locates with AFCI for Creativation. The event took place January 16-20th in Phoenix, AZ.
The MDK March Madness finalists announced. An event anticipated by knitters, the Mason-Dixon Knitting March Madness bracket was announced, with voting beginning March 20th. The winners were announced early April, and you can see the full bracket, here.
The Yarnery is moving. A prominent LYS in the Midwest, The Yarnery announced that they are moving to a new location in St. Paul, Minnesota. The new location will have more room for learning as well as being fully accessible (the current location has stairs).
Magpie Yarns same as before, despite Ravelry mixup. After an unsolicited change to its listing on Ravelry, Magpie’s Solstice yarn was believed to have been discontinued and rereleased with a different fiber makeup. Magpie clarified this was erroneous. One of the downsides of a user-edited database!
Jimmy Beans Wool announces scholarship. With their scholarship program, Beans for Brains, six students will receive a total of $15,000 in scholarship funds for the 2020-2021 school year. Students will be able to apply online from until April 30, 2020.
Stacey Trock helps small businesses in the craft industry put their best foot forward in the digital world. She specializes in developing a company’s branding, marketing + social media to build customer-loyalty, community-building and engagement. She writes, teaches and consults on a variety of small business marketing topics.