Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Owning a shop, II

In a comment on my blog entry of  2/13/16, Norma Jean felt that I was too negative and that I didn't enjoy owning my shop.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am a people person, so I enjoy meeting people and learning their story.  I've been doing this since the late 70s and before that I was a librarian.  There are great similarities between the two occupations.  In both of them, you are trying to help people.

I am also good at recognizing faces  and voices so if you have called the shop several times, usually I will recognize your voice.  I am really good at remembering names, which has been helpful over the years in tourist areas, because Needle Nicely in both Blowing Rock, NC, and now in Vero Beach, FL, has many repeat customers.  Nothing makes a person feel more welcome and comfortable than to have the shop clerk (or owner)  call them by name when they walk in.  Think about it.  I also remember projects that customers have purchased.  Sometimes, that can prove awkward in cases where it has been years since the initial purchase.  I also shock people when I recognize that they resemble their mothers who were customers in long past years.   Some men have  been amazed by this..  Two years ago, I was shocked to learn that there are people who have no facial recognition.  They don't recognize themselves in a mirror or their children when they approach them.  How awful!

Two weeks ago someone came in who had been a customer in our shop in the Village Shops over 21 years ago.  She's from New York and mentioned the name of the friend who had brought her to Needle Nicely.  I have such a visual picture of Molly with her curly, deep auburn hair.  Great memories!

Just last week, a long-time customer of Needle Nicely who had permanently retired to North Carolina over five years ago, suddenly appeared in the shop.  I really couldn't  believe my eyes.  I hugged her and then helped her select a project.  When it came time to record where to mail it, her eyes twinkled as she said her name (which I certainly didn't need, since I have known her for years), and said "at our age, dear, we need to be reminded!"  Not in your case, dear lady!

To end on a more serious note, people ask me why so many needlepoint shops appear to be closing.  There are several reasons:  the average age of shopowners (over 65, though there are rare ones who are younger); and the cost of the inventory (most people are shocked to hear how much all those canvases and fibers really cost).  I would love to sell Needle Nicely and am even willing to remain as a consultant working several days a week.  I spent almost 40 years accumulating this knowledge about the needlepoint industry, and really don't mind sharing it.  As an added plus, Vero Beach is a wonderful small town, particularly in the summertime!


  1. It was so clear to me when my friend and I visited your store last winter how much you enjoy your customers. That is often not the case. My LNS is twenty minutes from my house and I won't go there anymore because the owner is so rude. After many years, I've just decided to spend my money elsewhere. So keep up the good work and if you do sell your store, sell it to someone as nice as you!

  2. You've got several years left in you, Mary Agnes--hang in there~

  3. Enjoyed reading this post and hope to meet you someday when I visit my sister who just moved to Ormond Beach. It will make a nice road trip.

    Brenda's Needlepoint Studio