January 21, 2009

Letter to your LYS

If you would like to help your LYS start carrying digital patterns, you can print out this PDF (or forward it to them in email). I wrote it up in response to some emails/poll responses/etc I’ve received over the past 10 days.

See, we’re trying to change the world.
Of yarn, that is.

As some of you already know, at a dinner during last year’s winter TNNA show, I mentioned an idea I’d been mulling around in my head for about half a year at that point…a way to get patterns out to the yarn stores that would be mutually beneficial for designers and yarn shops. The mood was right for it to all come together rather quickly: like Athena jumping out of Zeus’ forehead fully-formed, if you’ll pardon the Clash of the Titans-ness. Enter Stitch Cooperative.

Fast forward one year. We sold a respectable number of paper patterns to shops at summer TNNA. Then the economic crisis really took hold. LYS owners were being more cautious — can you blame them? And let’s be honest…stores everywhere have shelves full of print patterns in binders just sitting there. Factor in the minimum orders/etc and that’s a lot of dead stock. We said ok, what can we do? It’s easy to just sell directly to you, the end user, as designers. But we also have a vested interest in seeing the local yarn stores succeed. They’re where we teach, where our books are sold, and an altogether vital part of the industry.

So here’s the dilemma. Over 82% of you said you prefer PDFs to printed patterns, and for a variety of reasons. Speed and price aren’t the only thing! You like to print out working copies and scribble on them, spill coffee on them, print the charts bigger to accommodate bad eyesight…there were almost 1000 different answers in the 1200 poll responses! However, lots of store owners are openly hostile to online pattern sales because they’re convinced you’re going to buy the pattern online, then buy the yarn online, then they’ll all go out of business.

I don’t think that’s true.

If you are providing good customer service, and stock good products at a fair price, you have nothing to worry about from the internet. Knitting is about community, and even the most wonderful websites will never replace petting the yarn in person, or chatting with the owner about your latest frogging disaster.

That said, why not enable the stores to sell our patterns to you and derive a percentage of the sales price instead of putting up a lot of money trying to figure out which patterns they want to stock? And so the Stitch Cooperative affiliate program was born…

Here’s your yarn community service challenge for the week: if you have a technically-challenged LYS owner on your hands, volunteer to help! Show them how to set up a blog on wordpress.com. Help them set up a knitalong with one of our patterns. Tell them how much money they could save on mailing out sale and class notices if they used an email list instead of paper postcards. And — cough cough — if you wouldn’t mind passing along this PDF to them, that’d be great, too. You’ll be helping independent designers and your local knitting community.

My goal for 2009 is to get as many stores as possible on board for this program. It’s environmentally responsible, helps designers and LYS owners alike, and brings you what you want! (Well, 82% of you, anyway). Thank you.

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1 comment

  • Marnie

    Shannon, this is really great info. I think yarn store owners can also consider offering printing services on-site for more traditional pattern buyers. They should still pay for the download, but if they have a desktop printer on-site, they can offer a printed pattern and sleeve for an additional fee, and offer to email the PDF file to the individual.

    Obviously, there’s always the risk to the designer that the LYS will simply print the same PDF over and over, but I don’t think that’s significantly different than the risk of an LYS photocopying a pattern and distributing it.

    Anyway, it’s really interesting to see how Stitch Coop is evolving and I think you are doing great things 🙂

    Reply to Marnie

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