The past few weeks I've had many opportunities to think back about the beginnings of needlepoint shops in South Florida brought on by the fact that Erin is opening a new shop in Stuart (Needlepoint Land). At least that's her blog's name and I assume it is the shop name.
As background, I've been in this business for over 45 years, for many years as the shop manager for Trubey Walker and then as the owner after I purchased Needle Nicely from Trubey. In the late 70s there were no learner's manuals for needlepoint shop owners. In fact, there was an almost unhealthy feeling of territoriality. No one offered "trade secrets". The one exception I particularly remember was that Barbara Eyre was very receptive to the questions Trubey had about the technical aspects of canvas painting. Most designers were reluctant to share any ideas--and shopowners were even more reticent.
What a pity .
Over the years, that's why Trubey and I always made an effort to share some tips about business survival with people who asked us for advice. I still shudder when I remember the women who came into the Blowing Rock, NC, location of Needle Nicely in the late 1970s and mentioned that they intended to open a shop "like this" by putting a second mortgage on their home/s. They had no idea how much money was tied up in our inventory.
When Holly Crook was preparing to open Absolutely Needlepoint in Miami, Fl, she and her then-husband were in Vero Beach to visit with friends. They stopped in at Needle Nicely and we chatted about various business decisions like what fibers to carry, how to price items, and other topics vital to the success of a needlepoint business.
Several years later, Kathy, the owner of Needlepoint Alley in Palm Beach, consulted me before she
opened. We had several conversations about what fibers did well at NN. I sold her 3 skeins of every color of DMC floss, though I cautioned her that I really didn't sell much of it. NN also sold a lot of Paternayan Persian wool yarn. Kathy's shop was further South in Florida and her customers had less interest in pure wool. Ironically, the first time Kathy came to Needle Nicely she was accompanied by Betty McGrath who coincidentally is the mother of Erin, the owner of Needlepoint Land.
Once again, I am selling DMC floss to a nascent shop. I have decided to divest myself of NN's floss and Erin is interested in it. I have priced it so attractively just so she would buy all of it (my customers really don't stitch with it, so I couldn't sell it on sale in this lifetime.). She is also purchasing the 18 DMC floss cabinets that I have been warehousing since we closed the Blowing Rock shop, lo these many years ago. Over the years I have sold some to "crafters", but kept many in case I added fibers for which I would need cabinetry. This is a perfect time to do a favor for a friend and also divest myself of "flotsam".
In the what was I thinking department, when Erin and her husband were in the shop today to pick up the floss, he took pictures of Erin and me chatting and laughing. I didn't even think of picking up my own camera and taking a picture of them. Duh!!