In the mood for a little needlework temptation? Well, I almost didn’t share this one, but then I reconsidered! You see, there’s a little side of me that’s whispering, “Don’t do this to your readers …. ” and another little side of me that’s practically shouting, “Are you kidding?! They won’t want to miss this!” And then there’s the other little side of me (oh, it’s true – I have so many sides!) that is calmly saying, “There’s nothing wrong with looking. Just be prudent…”
Each year, twice a year, there’s an online wholesale needlework event – a trade show, as a matter of fact – called The Needlework Show. The concept behind it is fairly simple – shop owners can browse through the inventory of different wholesalers in the trade and order stuff for their shops, without having to travel to a trade show. Regular retail customers (you and me) can browse through and see the things that are available, and ask our local needlework shops to order this or that thing that we might see. It’s a nice concept, but for the average retail shopper, unless you’re in pretty close cahoots with your local needlework shop, it just doesn’t mean all that much, except that we do get to see some new stuff coming out on the market.
Mostly, I keep up with the event to see what’s going on in the world of needlework threads (several thread companies usually display their wares during the show) and to see if there’s anything new and enticing in the way of needlework accessories.
Well, guess what? There’s a new show in town, created by the same folks, only it’s called Needle Show Retail… and it’s our opportunity to experience the “trade show” approach to needlework supplies.
This is the way it works: between November 5th – 8th, you register as a customer, and then you browse the booths. Some of the booths are simply for advertising, while others will be taking orders. You get to see what’s coming out new on the market, or what specialty items are available, and then, you get to shop through the various retailers. Basically, what you’re getting is the convenience of shopping or browsing through many retailers all in one spot. They’ll only be displaying a small number of items, though – my guess is, they’ll be displaying what’s new or particularly popular in their shops.
Even though this approach is mega-convenient (if the shops feature any needlework goods that you are interested in), I would gently suggest that you might take a look at what’s available on the retail market, then see if your own LOCAL needlework shop can order what you want. If they can’t or won’t, then order online. Supporting your local needlework shop first will help ensure that your local needlework shop stays in business!
Now, speaking of interest in Local Needlework Shops and so forth, I have been musing a bit about a recent surge of interest in an interesting project called The 3/50 Project. Have you heard about it? It is a movement to encourage people to shop locally at privately owned businesses that have brick-and-mortar stores. (Ironically enough, the 3/50 Project has an online shop for their promotional merchandise, and no … ahem … brick and mortar store…)
I’d love to know what you all think of this project. I agree wholeheartedly with the concept – I live in a small town, and I know the value of small privately owned businesses.
But as a serious needleworker who regularly shops for needlework supplies through retail businesses (and mostly online, because my LNS does not cater to my interests), I find there’s another side of the issue that bears consideration and has me thinking:
When I shop for needlework supplies that I often need in my projects, or when I shop for kits that are suited to my tastes, the only place I can find them is through online retail businesses, most of which don’t have brick-and-mortar stores. Some of these businesses are in the States (the Japanese Embroidery Center, Hedgehog Handworks, Yodamo, The French Needle, Thistle Threads, etc.) and some are not (Berlin Embroidery, Benton & Johnson, Alison Cole, for example).
The way I see it, for the needleworker in the US who is interested in a variety of needlework techniques, if we were to restrict ourselves solely to brick and mortar stores, it surely would mean the death of most needlework techniques in America, with the exception of cross stitch and needlepoint. I would sorely love to find a brick-and-mortar store in the States that supplies the range of metal threads for goldwork; that supplies floche and coton a broder for surface embroidery, whitework and cutwork; that carries a range of fine linen; that sells beautiful surface embroidery kits from a variety of talented designers…
Does such a store exist anywhere except through the combination of retailers available online? I’m afraid it doesn’t. And if we turn our backs equally on these specialty retailers who sell online only, we would be eliminating our ability to embroider with the specialty supplies that we need. Many of these small online specialty needlework shops are home-grown businesses begun by a needleworker with a real passion for needlework and a real fortitude to undertake running a business for a rather slim market. I can’t begrudge them their lack of brick and mortar.
So that’s what I’ve been musing about. At the same time, I do have a fear for the survival of small local needlework shops in the present economy, so I do my bit when I can and shop locally.
Any thoughts on the subject? And hey – if you’ve found the Ultimate Needlework Shop – feel free to recommend it in the comments section below!