Every week I see people on the Needlepoint Nation asking if there is a shop in Knoxville, TN; or Blowing Rock, NC; or Wilmington, DE. Is this lack of shops due to the age of possible shopowners or the lack of customers?
When Needle Nicely was in Blowing Rock, NC, we drew people from all over the country as word spread about us. This was definitely before the internet. Several summers I put a large US map on the wall of the front porch and asked people to mark where they were from. It was amazing to see how quickly every state was represented. It also served as a way to keep those restless husbands occupied while their wives shopped!
Today I am shocked when there isn't a shop in Asheville, NC, but there is one in Lancaster, PA. Mentally, I go through the states in my mind--I can only think of 4 shops in South Carolina: Rock Hill, Greeneville, Lexington, Charleston.
I had someone in the shop today who told me there were no longer any shops in Chicago. Yes, there are some in the "burbs", but not in the city.
Different areas of the country have different concepts about how far away is too far. Last week, a customer of mine on the barrier island (10 minutes away), asked me if I would do a trunk show in her gated community. The next person in the shop that day routinely drives 1 hour and 45 minutes from south of Vero to shop at Needle Nicely. I know many Californians think nothing of commuting for 45 miles each way daily. Three years ago Needle Nicely had an employee who drove that far three times a week to work here.
The TNNA (shopowner's professional organization) publishes a membership list annually. It is possible to check in the list whether what type, if any, needlework shops are in Iowa or New Jersey. I often consult it so I can recommend a shop to customers who plan on traveling in a new area or to see if there are new shops in their home area. Several times I have encountered a certain shop owner from New Jersey. After I say hello, she always asks me why I am sending people to her shop. In my mind, we are in this together, not competitors. I'm sure her inventory is different from mine, if only because of the geographical locations.