Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"I'm still hoping I can open before October 1st."

Stopped by the space today. Not much has changed since the weekend. Hmm, wonder if they've run into a snag. Or maybe I'm just impatient. I'm still hoping I can open before October 1st.

Here's a new photo for the webstore. This is Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb (50% wool, 50% silk) in 'Watercolor' (one of my favorite colorways).
This is pretty-darned accurate colorwise. Luscious.

A very good friend of mine from Northern Michigan (Teri) is a watercolor artist (and a doll artist). I just today received a packet of her brand-new endeavor: professionally printed note cards containing reproductions of her original watercolor paintings. I'm gonna sell them in my shop as impulse items near the cash register. Not knitting themed (they are paintings of flower gardens), they nonetheless are beeeeautiful. Gotta support up-and-coming artists (especially if they're friends). Sometime soon I'll try to scan in one of the cards to post here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bookkeeping Blues plus some bitchin stitchin...

I thought I had my inventory system under control. I've been using a piece of software called ShopKeeper, which does Point of Sale and Inventory Management. For the past several months I've been dutifully typing in every inventory item I've bought. Last week I realized that I had been doing part of it all wrong. Since then I've been slaving away at the computer fixing the problems. Luckily I don't have to re-type everything. I just need to add the missing pieces: creating purchase orders and converting them into vendor invoices. This process actually updates the quantities and prices correctly so that things show up on hand, on order, or back ordered correctly. Phew!

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting with a bookkeeper who is also a knitter. We're going to go over my books to make sure everything is in order before the doors of the store open.

On a brighter note, I've successfully connected with a sizeable group of active knitters up here in the North Bay. They have a yahoo discussion group and are organized into subgroups: one that meets in Napa and one in Santa Rosa. The Marin subgroup currently does not have a meeting place... well, they will once my store opens! As a prelude/preview, I've invited everyone over to my home this coming Thursday at 7 pm for a special Stitch'N Bitch session. I'm looking forward to meeting people who will hopefully become my future clientele; we'll be surrounded by boxes and piles of yarn... what fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It may happen sooner, it may happen later.

The good news is that construction continues. The bad news is the city still doesn't have its act together; I've learned that construction continues without an official city permit. Until that permit is issued, the city will not be able to perform an inspection of the wiring, etc. Without this inspection, drywall cannot be hung. The city expects to be reviewing the plans by the end of next week. As the contractor put it, "it may happen sooner, it may happen later."

What this all means is that the guys can only go so far in their work before the city requires an inspection. If the city is not ready to inspect when the guys are ready, we end up waiting longer. I hope that doesn't happen.

I'm looking into utilizing a variety of halogen IKEA lighting gizmos in order to brighten up the space since track lighting is out of the picture for the time being. I will also be putting rugs down on the floors (possibly jute) in order to soften the harsh and cold concrete.

I will shortly be adding some baby-ish yarns to my inventory. I don't plan on carrying 100% acrylic pastel "baby yarns" per se, but I will be getting some great fingering, sport, & heavy sport weight yarns in both cheery and sophisticated colors that are machine washable - merino wools and cotton/acrylic microfiber blends.

Oooh, I just got an email from UPS that Muench Yarns shipped two boxes (50 pounds) of yarn! Should be here tomorrow. I have a boatload of GGH yarns (and Muench's Touch Me) on backorder. I wonder what's in the boxes? I'm hoping for Soft Kid and Tajmahal. I currently only have 4 colors of each yarn. Mmmm, Tajmahal. If you haven't seen/felt this yarn you're gonna love it. Merino wool with a touch of silk and a hint of cashmere. Fingering weight, so perfect for very special socks and baby things. I'm gonna bite the bullet and make myself a vest out of it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

"A pretty yarn store is merely pretty..."

Construction continues... as of a few days ago, they were starting work on the electrical system, and a bunch of metal straps hung from the ceiling (my guess is to either hold up the HVAC conduits or the framework for the suspended ceiling).

In the past few weeks I've been 'checking out' other new yarn stores in the area. One thing that strikes me about almost all new shops is the amount of money people are spending on interiors! Custom built-in cabinetry, wood floors, high-end furniture, the works.

After thinking long and hard about my finances, I've decided to be very stingy on the interior of my store. I'm going with what the landlord is providing at no cost: basic electrical, sheetrock, suspended ceiling, standard fluorescent lights, and concrete floor. I will be staining & sealing the floor myself, as well as painting the walls. I will do my best to make it as warm and inviting as possible by spending the least amount of money possible. Hopefully by carefully choosing a color scheme for the walls and floor, combined with jute rugs and shelving/tables/chairs/fixtures from IKEA, I can come up with a good space. As time goes by, I can upgrade the lighting and a few other things.

What am I gaining from my stinginess? More yarn! A 'pretty' yarn store is merely pretty, while a great yarn store should be loaded with yarns, patterns, and NEEDLES! I promise everyone: I will not be stingy with knitting needles and notions! I currently have in my living room: Clover bamboo straights and circulars, Bryspun straights and circulars, Susan Bates Quicksilver straights and circulars, Brittany 5" double points (for all you sock knitters out there), and the Susan Bates colored plastic needles. Before I open I will be adding Bryspun 5" double points and 7" bamboo double points. As soon as I can afford it, I will add Addi Turbos and eventually Crystal Palace and Lantern Moon needles.

Meanwhile, soon I hope to upload pictures of two new sweaters: one is a new design of my own creation worked up in Cascade's silky soft Pima Tencel, and the other is a neck-down seamless pullover in GGH's Goa (a terrific bulky machine-washable cotton/microfiber acrylic blend).

Sunday, August 14, 2005

More construction progress...

My good friend and yarn buddy Meredith and I stopped by the store today to check on the progress. They've started constructing the wall which will eventually separate my space from the one next door. A bunch of metal beams extend from ceiling to floor. How exciting!! It's finally taking shape.

The REAL purpose of Meredith's visit was to dive into all the yarn in my living room. Meredith is a terrific graphic designer, and is working closely with me to craft a brand image for the store, which includes designing the logo, business cards, store signage, and website. We spent all afternoon pawing through all the boxes of yarn, ooh and ahhing over everything I've purchased so far: GGH, Muench, Vittadini, Jo Sharp, Artful Yarns, Blue Sky Alpacas, Lorna's Laces, and Hand Jive Knits. We had great fun... but it was quite exhausting.

Due to the tardiness of the construction project, I've decided to move full-speed ahead on putting together an online store, as I mentioned previously. I've installed an open source shopping cart that's written in PHP and MYSQL. What does this mean to the non-techies out there? The cost is nil and I am fluent at PHP and MYSQL programming, so it will be fairly easy for me to tweak the software in order to create an excellent shopping experience. I hope to have it up and running by Labor Day. Among other things, I am busy at work taking photographs of every color of every yarn currently in stock, such as this luscious skein of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

OMG - Something is happening at the space!

Every Thursday evening I go down to the San Rafael Farmers Market, which takes up several blocks of downtown. I walk up and down, checking out the booths of fruits & veggies, prepared foods, and imported goods. Then I walk by the store to see if construction has started.

Today I found the wrought iron railing delimiting the patio area of my store rearranged and a pile of metal beams on the floor inside the space. Yay something is happening! Perhaps the permits have been issued! Now I will have to stop by every night to check out the progress.

Meanwhile, I am very busy working with the POS/Inventory management software, learning how to use Quickbooks, and also taking pictures of all the yarn (as illustrated at left). I've decided to put up an online store to try and sell some of the inventory in my living room, and I need pictures of everything I'm going to sell. A very time consuming task.