Each quarter we publish a round-up of news from the yarn industry (check out our April 2020 roundup here). Here’s our latest report:
The second quarter of 2020 in the yarn industry reflected the world at large: full of disruption, closures, a renewed focus on racial injustice, and, for companies nimble enough to adapt, opportunity.
The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 is still an ongoing crisis. As Europe, East Asia, and Oceania are catching glimpses of the ‘new normal’, many more countries elsewhere in the world are either deep in a first wave of infections or being hit by a second wave. In mid-July, California announced new lockdown measures as it and other states are seeing record numbers of infections, passing the records set in spring. Many local shops are closed or seeing reduced footfall due to social distancing measures, and it is unclear when traffic and revenues will be back to previous levels.
While devastating for many businesses, particularly those with brick + mortar locations and large businesses without much operational flexibility, the pandemic brought opportunity for many businesses. Ecommerce saw record levels of transactions and small businesses, usually newer with already-functioning websites and digital marketing plans, were poised to take advantage. A number of small businesses in the industry reported record numbers of sales as more customers spent time inside engaging with hobbies and shopped from home.
Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, America (and indeed much of the world) turned its attention to grappling with a history of systemic racism, racial injustices and inequalities. The tragedy sparked widespread support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and many consumers put pressure on small businesses to be transparent about their fight against racism, increase diversity in marketing and product offerings and support Black-owned businesses. Many companies exhibited grave missteps, showing that the majority of businesses have a long way to go on the path to racial equality. Some of the businesses that have caused offense have sought to rectify their behavior, seeking advice and creating an action plan for improvement. However, we will need longer than this quarter to see whether these plans will create lasting changes.
Financials: Acquisitions, Bankruptcies, Closures and Distribution changes
TNNA Ceases Operation. The National Needlework Arts Association, the trade association for the fine yarn industry, announced that it was suspending all operations. While membership, show attendance, and finances had been in decline for a number of years, the statement cites the cancellation of the summer trade show due to COVID-19 as an insurmountable obstacle.
XRX (Stitches Events) announces wholesale show. In the light of the end of TNNA, the parent company of the retail show Stitches events announced a wholesale trade show in May 2021, immediately before the already-scheduled Stitches United retail show.
Bluprint shuts down, but then is acquired and rebranded as Craftsy (again). Formerly known as Craftsy and purchased by NBC/Universal, Bluprint announced it was shutting down. The closure was a surprise, as streaming services and crafting both showed growth during the pandemic. After a time period of intense distress from teachers and customers who had purchased ‘lifetime’ classes, Bluprint was acquired by TN Marketing, which has acquired the assets and will continue offering the content under the ‘Craftsy’ brand.
Knit Simple magazine folds and Vogue Knitting drops to 2 issues per year. Focusing attention instead on retreats and events, SOHO Publishing has significantly reduced its publications, also ending Yarn Market News earlier in the year.
Churchmouse Yarns and Teas closes their brick-and-mortar. In an email to customers, Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on Bainbridge Island, WA announced that it will move to online sales only following the temporary closure due to COVID-19. This change occurs just shy of the 20th anniversary of the well-known shop.
MEZ sells hand-knitting yarn segment to DMC Group. The group included Rowan, Paton’s and others. According to the press release, MEZ aims to focus on sales of yarn under the Schachenmayr and Regia brands. The company states that it acquired Rowan amid shrinking sales and by reemphasizing its British roots, rejuvenated the brand into profitable sales and growth.
T B Ramsden is being administrated by Clark Business Recovery Limited. A handknitting company based in Yorkshire, and the producer of Erica Knight, Clark Business Recovery Limited was appointed as Joint Administrators of the company on 14 April 2020.
Knitting Bee closes shop. A LYS in Portland, OR announced on June 1st that it would be closing its doors.
The Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival Closes its doors. Originally postponed to August due to the pandemic, the show has decided to cancel and not renew for 2021. Citing financial difficulties from the coronavirus postponement and personal stress, continuation of the show under a new owner is under discussion.
The New York Sheep and Wool Festival (known as Rhinebeck) cancelled its in-person show, scheduled for fall. Due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. In a Facebook post, it announced that it will hold a virtual show in its place. No artichoke french, tho.
The list of cancellations is too long to list, here. Pretty much every live event across the US has been cancelled through the fall.
Neighborhood Fiber Co. owner featured by GoFundMe. Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. was featured by GoFundMe for her NFC Momentum Fund that’s raised $94,000 to date to support organizations working for justice, empowerment, and equality. (listen to the podcast episode)
Mason Dixon changes name to MODERN daily Knitting. Following the death of George Floyd and increased support for Black Lives Matter, many came forward about the divisiveness and slavery-references of the previous name. The new name was unveiled in early June.
Ravelry has a new look, with some controversy. After years of a familiar style, Ravelry unveiled a new look a new look. However, the new look sparked outrage, when seizures and migraines were reported. Ravelry was slow to respond, leaving some to criticize that despite Ravelry’s inclusiveness regarding race and gender, they have been unsupportive of inclusivity for disabilities. Amberley wrote a very thoughtful analysis of the events and response.
Three Irish Girls seeks $60,000 in fundraising. Citing difficulties due to the pandemic, Erin McFarland started a GoFundMe in March to raise a substantial amount of money. Nearly 4 months later, less than 10% of that total has been raised.
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.