Dec 1, 2008

Chain Reaction

Is it my imagination or are big box chain/discount stores reducing the amount of yarn they carry?

For the past six years, my "local yarn store" of choice was the A.C. Moore located just a mile or two from the house. My devotion was less about convenience and more about lust -- I blame (or is it credit) it's sizable and diverse yarn selection for helping me build my stash to the size that it is now. In fact, it was this large yarn selection that drew me back into crocheting. I had gone into the store to buy supplies for a Girl Scout project and like with any store, I wandered up and down the aisle just window shopping. I stopped short when I saw walls of beautiful yarn in a wide spectrum of colors and textures -- Katia's Grenada, Knitting Fever's King Tut Egyptian Cotton, Lion Brand's Suede, I could go on. Unfortunately, with the addition of each new store manager, the department shrunk, the aisles got narrower, and the staff grew blissfully ignorant. I hesitate to even buy yarn there because of the overwhelming, often conflicting scents of candles, potpourri, and other junk placed close by. I get a headache just walking into the store. I asked the most recent store manager and he admits that he plans to downsize even more and just carry the "thick yarn" that women seem to use for crafting, like bulky red, white, and green to make Christmas wreaths and stockings. Yukkk.

The local Joann's and Michaels stores also appear to be suffering from the same affliction. And just this past weekend, after a brief visit with my Michigan cousin, I see that Hobby Lobby's yarn department has shrunk as well. They have limited the yarn manufacturers they carry to just a few -- Red Heart, Bernat, Patons, Lion Brand -- and even then to a select few of their yarns.

What gives? Perhaps these big box stores think we are fueling our fiber addiction by buying online. Admittedly, my knitty and crochety friends and I have purchased online, but only after sampling the real stuff in person. Now that I think about it, I bought my skeins online from a LYS in Kansas City after I had visited its store. Perhaps the big box stores think real LYSs like Aylin's Woolgathers here in Northern Virginia or the handspun yarn stores that abound on Etsy will carry the load. I rather doubt it because most don't have the capacity or desire to carry a broad selection of yarns like the big box stores used to.

So, I guess I am reduced to shopping my own stash and hope that by the time I really "need" some yarn we have other options.

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