Monday, January 27, 2020

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone...

This week marks the last week of the 'brick and mortar' version of The Crafty Lady.  The doors will close February 1 at 6 p.m., and a new chapter in the business' history will begin -- just two weeks shy of 26 years with a store-front location.

Why do you think so many small, independent businesses shut their doors and either close completely or go the online route?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are small, independent business-owners.  It's a complex issue, and rarely is there only one reason.  But here are some factors...

  • The owner wants to retire and no one will buy the business because...
    • It takes capital to fund a business that has built up good will in a community;
    • It takes courage to take a long-running existing business and put your own stamp on it as a new owner;
    • It takes courage to continue to compete against Big Box Stores selling similar merchandise more cheaply; and
    • A small business is a 24/7/365 (or 366!) commitment.  However much it might be your passion, it will also be your life;
  • The business is in a rented premises -- and doing very well -- so when the shop's lease is coming up for renewal, the landlord just might spike the rent to skim off as much of the business' profits for him/herself; 
  • The economy of a given community/province/country ebbs and flows...and however robust the planning or the capitalization, it becomes a real challenge to keep brick-and-mortar going if customers aren't buying, while costs are rising -- for heat, electricity, inventory and the like; and/or
  • The advent of the Internet and the boom in online shopping over the last 10+ years means that while people might enjoy the ambiance, the service and the quality of products in a local shop, more and more drop in for a "fix" and then shop somewhere else where -- with free shipping offered over "X" amount spent -- they can get something similar for less.
One or some or all of these reasons factor in to the closing of a physical store-front occupied by a small, independent business.

So...the owner puts the inventory on sale so there is less to pack up and move -- whether to a warehouse for an online operation, or to a "shop on wheels" that books space on a 'pop up' basis that changes from week to week or month to month.

People flock to the store then to stock up before the closing date -- and because of the discounts available.

They commiserate; they're sorry to see the business shut its doors; they'll miss the business' presence in the community...they wonder what the staff will do now that they are out of work.

They've suddenly begun to realize what they had...and what they'll lose when it's gone.  

Even though The Crafty Lady will continue in a new format -- online and through mobile 'pop-up' locations; even though she'll continue to carry beautiful, good-quality yarns at reasonable prices and there'll be opportunities to touch and feel the products, to get advice, and even -- eventually -- to book a private lesson or two; even though Knit Night will continue to provide a social time on an RSVP basis at the home Lori shares with her mother (the Very Supportive and Indefatigable Muriel)...

  • There won't be a permanent location where you can drop in to chat, browse, fondle yarn, be entranced by colour and variety, pick up notions and embroidery and beading and mending supplies, find just the right buttons for that new little sweater you've made.
  • There won't be a permanent location with at least two knowledgeable and informative staff members to advise on yarn quantities, weights, colours and patterns; or on fabric and floss for embroidery projects; or on dyeing or mending those jeans or that torn sweater or jacket or home decor item...and...
  • The face of the community changes whenever a small, independent business closes its permanent location. 

One of The Crafty Lady's longest-running community services 
has been the shop's in-take of donated yarn which is used by
volunteers to make blankets for Blankets for Canada.  The ideal yarn is a worsted weight (an American #4) made of acrylic which is easily cared for and relatively soft.  Yarn of different weights and fibre content isn't turned away, though.  Instead volunteers have taken it for baby blankets, hats, mitts, scarves and prayer shawls.  

The Shop's Queen of the Blankets is Minke, a woman well up in years who crochets (or on occasion, knits) delightfully colourful blankets that have been distributed either by Blankets for Canada, or by the shop, to half-way houses, fire victims (think: Fort McMurray a few years ago), homeless shelters and the like.  Why is Minke the Queen?  She's just brought us her 600th and 601st finished blankets!!

The Crafty Lady hopes to continue collecting donated yarn and sharing it with Minke and others as part of this service to Lacombe and stay tuned for information on how and where to donate!

While change is inevitable, while changes in technology and economies contribute a great deal to the future of any business, large or small, when -- in the words of Joni Mitchell -- "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot...Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

Final Brick & Mortar Week!
Discounts from 5% to 25%
on yarn, roving, 
notions, patterns,
needles, hooks,
embroidery supplies,
and all general craft items!

updates on THIS BLOG
for information 
on the
Opening of the Online Shop
and the locations of the 
Shop on Wheels.

And for one last time...this week... at 5006 - 50 Avenue, Lacombe, Alberta

THANKS to all our faithful customers...

See you in the shop!

*Written by Margaret, soon-to-be-former TCL employee...who will miss TCL -- and who knows very well what she had, though it will be gone.


  1. Having been part of the Crafty Lady family and would be still if I hadn't moved away, I am so sad to see this shop close. It was my second home and a job that I sincerely loved. And it's good to know that something I started - the blog - continued on in very capable and talented hands after I left. I had always thought that when I come back to visit Alberta to see my kids, I could always drop into the Crafty Lady to see old friends.

    Much success in the future to you Lori, Margaret and Anne! It was so great to work with you. And hello to Muriel too.

  2. I can’t imagine visiting my son in Alberta and not being able to go to the Crafty Lady. I don’t think I ever visited without spending a lot of tome, ones and money too, in the store. I met some wonderful people on knit nights and still maintain contact with them. I wish you the very best in your new endeavor, and hope to see you next tine I am out that way.