Yvonne had been the manager of a yarn shop in a nearby neighborhood until the owner decided to abruptly shut it down. She always wanted to have her own business and took this opportunity to do so. She understood the yarn business but didn’t know what is required to open a business. She turned to Westmoreland SCORE for help. Westmoreland SCORE helped her develop a business plan, help her work though a time line to get up and running. She was able obtain financing through loans from friends and customers.
Knitting fulfills a need of a different sort: a need to connect with people in our past and a need to break away from the commercialization of the present,” she said.
Opening the store gives her a chance to select and share gems of yarn, a never-ending palette of colors. In addition, she supports small, women-owned businesses such as yarn spinners and dyers.
“My favorite thing in the shop is the people,” she said about her customers and staff of three women.
The store owner runs a democratic shop, considering herself “the chief instigator.” They are having fun and helping others create “knit-worthy” treasures, she said.
Since opening Knitsburgh, Spencer and staff have visited the local coffee shop and stopped for lunch down the street, weaving themselves into the community.
She did a lot of shopping before settling on what she found was the best spot for her business. Spencer ended up opening in a small storefront at 313 Freeport Road in the center of town, down from the war memorial. The building is a perfect setup, with a yarn-filled shop and an area for classes which will be scheduled starting in the spring.
“Blawnox is a hidden gem. It's an exciting little community,” she said. “We have a store that is welcoming for everybody. There is nothing in here I don't love.”
Opening her own business was liberating: A court reporter from 1990 to 2003, she now enjoys choosing merchandise, creating marketing, customer service and being her own boss.
“I really like the creativity this offers me. I'm not held to another person's standards,” she said.
Spencer's advice for anyone considering opening their own business is to do research. She worked with the Westmoreland County chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives before opening her business. Even though she had worked in a yarn store before, she knew she could learn new and better business practices.
“Educate yourself first. Take as many small-business classes as you can,” she said.
The supported me at every turn and kept me on target. I attended at all the workshops they offered and met a number of times with my counselors, Sam Dickson and Bob Tupper both face to face, Skype and phone. They are a tremendous resource that I would never been able to afford on the open market.