“I can order it online for cheaper”
Yup. It’s true.
In the internet age, where everything is available online for a discount, some people are wondering why it’s worth shopping at a local yarn store (LYS).
My suspicion is that many people feel this way because they haven’t yet discovered what an LYS truly offers. A good LYS is about way more than buying yarn: and once you know that, you’ll find it easy to support your favorite shop.
Why online shops can offer a discount
Don’t get me wrong: I shop online, too. Sometimes I’m looking for a yarn that my LYS doesn’t carry. Many online yarn retailers are also LYSs (like Jimmy Beans Wool and WEBS), so I’m in no way trying to convince you that online shopping is bad.
But there’s one unavoidable truth: you get what you pay for.
Why can online shops offer a discounted price on yarn? Because the costs of running an online shop are different than running a store front. An online shop has lower operating costs than a retail store, and they’re able to pass that savings onto the customer.
True, you may be able to buy that same yarn or book online for cheaper. But you’re missing out on all of the extra goodies that come with buying from an in-person shop.
What LYSs offer that online shops can’t
Besides the obvious plus of being able to see & touch a yarn in person (and who doesn’t want to do that?!?), there are some major benefits to shopping at a great LYS.
A good yarn store is the new town square. You know how in the old days, people used to gather in the town square to catch up on gossip and see their friends? That’s what a good yarn store is like. You can gather in a comfortable space, knit, chat with friends and get the newest yarn gossip from folks in the know.
A yarn-store owner is a curator. Have you heard of the paradox of choice? It’s the idea that selecting from 100 different yarns is daunting. A yarn store owner acts as a curator, stocking their shop with the loveliest in the land.
I can say this because I go to the annual trade show: there are a bewildering number of yarns out there! In a LYS, the owner has hand-picked a selection suited to the local market. Does the such-and-such brand have a bad rap for deteriorating in the wash? Your LYS owner knows about it and isn’t stocking that icky yarn… because they know that stocking a sub-par yarn would reflect poorly on their shop.
LYS employees are personal shoppers. How many stores can you go to where there is often an employee dedicated to helping you select the best fiber, thickness and color for the project you envision? That’s extraordinary service in most shops, but more or less standard at LYSs.
Samples. I don’t think I even need to say more! A typical LYS has samples of yarns worked up, so you can see an example of a finished product. No getting tricked by weird pooling. No getting fooled by how soft it’ll be.
Help when you need it. Don’t abuse this privilege (trust me, it just creates an awkward situation!), but most LYSs have the policy that if you bought the yarn/pattern in their shop, you can pop in for 5 minutes of free help. Most of the time, a touch of help from an expert looking at your work is enough to set you on the right path. Priceless.
What’s your stance?
Have you discovered an LYS that you love? What makes it great?
Do you have ‘a policy’ about when you shop online and when you visit a store?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
All photos in this blog post were taken in Knit New Haven, one of the shining examples of what a great yarn store should be.
To hear me chat more in depth about this topic, have a listen to my recent podcast episode.