Community Hub for a Solitary Pursuit: Running a Yarn Store in a Pandemic

by | Mar 3, 2021 | Business & Industry, Ontario

“How are you doing? Are you holding up okay?” This has been a constant refrain of the last eleven months.

My answer is often hesitant, because in the grand scheme of things the shop and I are not doing too badly. I’m healthy, my staff and our families have been able to stay safe, and this particular type of international disaster results in many people having more time on their hands than usual. And of course, time on your hands easily translates into time with your knitting in your hands. So I am holding up okay, and I am constantly grateful that the type of business I own seems to lend itself well to this particular disaster.

But holding up okay and doing well are rather different. Another comment I hear more frequently than I would like is, “This pandemic must be great for business!” Truly people have said it, and more than once.

Should I have to explain that lockdowns, travel restrictions, yarn and needle shortages due to supply-chain and postal disruptions, lack of tourists due to travel restrictions, the stress of interacting with a public who in large part seem remarkably resistant to following lockdown rules and travel restrictions, not to mention the daily stress of potentially exposing myself and my staff to a deadly virus are not, actually, great for business? It takes rather a lot of my best retail restraint to respond with a smile, but the mask helps with that.

The truth is that lockdowns for this small business are a bit of a mixed bag. It is a boon that we are in the internet age and we can reach our customers through the wonders of online shopping, social media, and direct email campaigns. It was enlightening to discover just how much could be accomplished with a smart phone and an internet connection.

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Amelia Lyon
Amelia Lyon

Amelia began her knitting journey as a child. She learned the basics from her mother and picked up new techniques along the way from aunts, friends of parents, and the owners and staff of her local yarn store in Ottawa. After moving to Toronto, she got her dream job working for Lettuce Knit in Kensington Market. Three years later when the shop closed in 2015, she opened Yarns Untangled in its place and began this exciting new chapter.

Yarns Untangled is a colourful and cozy community hub that prizes inclusion, warmth, creativity, and crafting knowledge and excellence. It features a wide variety of hand-dyed Canadian yarn, high quality factory-produced yarn in a wide price range, and all the gear, notions and books you could ever need.