The LNS – A Dying Breed

When I started discussing with Loretta being a contributor to her site, I had to think what I wanted to write about.  I have my own blog that I post to on an almost daily basis and I didn’t want to duplicate content that my readers may have already seen.  After much thought, I decided featuring various local needlework shops (LNS), that people may not be aware of, would be a great idea.  They’re quickly becoming extinct, and as avid stitchers, we need to do all we can to save them.  Between STNA and my own sites, there are more than 4,000 stitchers that could be introduced to new shops to buy from.

Unfortunately the idea didn’t go as planned.

I am also a victim of my favorite LNS closing this past Spring, so I figured I would start with the next closest shop.  It is one I haven’t been to in more than 20 years (before my son was even born).  I quickly jumped on line to see if they have a website to find out the shop hours, etc.  I was thrilled to see they had a “contact us” link with an email address.  I composed an email to the shop owner explaining who I was, what I wanted to do with the feature, and provided links to all my sites, as well as STNA.  My first disappointment came when I immediately received an email back that it was undeliverable.  (More on that later.)

Next step, go back to their website and find out what their hours are and see if I can catch the owner/manager on the phone.  I wanted to give them a heads-up on my plan, as well as get permission in advance to take some photos while I was in the store.  Not much luck there either.  The store hours are M-F 11am-5pm and only two Saturdays each month for 4 hours per day.  Like the large majority of stitchers, I work during the day so shopping during those hours is out of the question, as well as being able to spend any amount of time on the phone from my job.  Lucky for me, the upcoming weekend was one of the two Saturdays they would be open, and I was scheduled off from work, so I took a chance and made the 20 minute drive out there.

I almost drove by the building as they are located in a small “professional” building with some offices, and there was relatively no signage.  There were a few cars in the parking lot, so I guessed I was in the right place.  When I went to the door of the building I found it locked with a note stating they are open, but you need to knock to be let in.  A little odd, but OK.  Upon entering the store I introduced myself, with business card at the ready, and asked for the store owner/manager.  I was told she’s not in on the weekends.  I explained to the lady working about the feature post and asked if I could take some photos to go with it and was instantly told she couldn’t authorize that, but she’d be more than happy to give my card to the owner.  Another little hurdle, but I was still on a mission to do this feature.

The shop itself was relatively small.  It was three adjoining rooms that were about equal to the size of the downstairs of my entire house, and my  entire house is only 1,000 sq ft.   I was excited to start the browsing, especially with spending money in my wallet.  Needless to say, I was handed another disappointment when it came to the selection of items.  If you’re a fan of vintage samplers, this LNS is the place for you.  I counted a total of 6 designers they had current charts for (Lizzie Kate, Blue Ribbon Designs and Prairie Schooler were some of them).  Most other charts in the store were 10+ years old (confirmed by the inventory cards that are kept behind each chart).  The “bargain” bins were full of charts & magazines from the late ’80s and early ’90s, before my son was born.  There were none of the bright & cheery charts or kits that are quickly becoming popular.  And sadly, the only fabric of any kind available for purchase in the shop were scrap bags that were put together from leftover pieces of various projects.  However, when I asked, I was told they’ll special order anything you want.  I don’t recall, but I think there may have been a small selection of needles to purchase.  My only highlight…the amount of Kreinik metallics and Mill Hill beads!  I finally found my tiny, tiny piece of heaven.

After 30 minutes in the store looking at everything possible, in hopes of being able to make a decent size purchase, I walked out of the store with a chart published 13 years ago and 2 spools of metallic fibers for a whopping $12.78.  Not the type of purchase I planned on making to help support a LNS.

While I was checking out I kindly reminded the employee to please give my business card to the owner.  I stated I had tried emailing in advance of my visit but it wouldn’t go through.  The employee told me the store computer crashed, so they just disabled their email.  I wondered if they knew local libraries have computers you can use for free to check your email.

Needless to say, as of the time I’m typing this post, I haven’t received any response from the store owner to the business card I left or subsequent follow up messages.   I’m sure you’ve noticed by now I haven’t said the name of the LNS or even where they’re located.  I’m not doing this post as a way to harm their business.  It simply highlights many of the reasons why our much loved LNSs are disappearing.  If they’re not open when shoppers can get there and they’re not stocking items stitchers want to buy, no one will frequent their businesses, hence making them a dying breed.

I am NOT giving up on my search to find great local needlework shops I can share with the stitching community.  Looks like there will be some road trips in my future that will hopefully yield positive posts and great shopping opportunities for all of us.


About Kelly

I've been stitching for 35 years now after first learning to needlepoint at the age of 6. A day is not complete unless my needle, floss and fabric meet. My quest to learn more & grow in my craft never ends. I'm hoping that some day my cross stitch "empire" can be my full-time job and retirement. Hey, we all have to have dreams! :)

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  1. I hear you on the LNS. The one in Lewisville closed down. I only visited it once and I loved it but when I went to visit again, it had closed 🙁 The next closest is in Plano but I don’t really want to go there because I called looking for 11 count evenweave and I heard [gulp] “What’s evenweave? [gasp]. The next closest is south of Fort Worth. Needless to say, I order off 123 stitch.

    If I win the lottery, I’m opening a store just off the square in Denton. It’s kinda touristy and if I put in more modern designs, I might snag the college kids.

  2. I’ve run into similar situations when visiting needlework shops. They’ll have no email, no one answers the phone most of the time, they’re rarely open, and most don’t have websites. I’m starting to think I need to put together a marketing help booster package for LNS to get them out there and making bigger profits and more sales again. Something that’s definitely floating around in my mind for 2013.

  3. Hi all! Ive heard alot about shops closing. I use to work at a shop located in Branson Mo. Im not there anymore due to moving out of stated. Any how customers use to come in all the time from out of state sayin there LNS had closed . Its sad. That so many are closing. I know my store has everything kelly was looking for. Please by all means dont think im tryin to promote them, but you have several ways to order or get ahold of them. if it would help i can give the website. all you have to do is ask. have a happy stitching day!

  4. I hate to say it, but I think some LNS are run by folks that want to retire more than anything. Maybe they are just burned out, but the lack of customer service or even interest in the community of stitching is really apparent. That does make me appreciate the ones that do try to appeal to stitchers, advertise and stay current with the latest trends even more. I try to buy as much as I can from them online 🙂


  5. Great post, Kelly! I have never had an LNS, so I haven’t had the heart break that comes with one closing, and the closest to me is almost 100 miles away, and though I would love to support them, it’s almost cheaper to pay the shipping and handling from one of the online only multi-stores than the price of gas to drive out there 🙂 Having been an avid online stasher for more than a few years, I find that the small LNS’s that have online catalogues and ordering often take quite some time to ship from their own dwindling inventory, a reflection of the slow economy, and as their focus is (and should be) on walk in customers, they get first dibs on their inventory, not to mention that the whole order communication process is less than efficient. Once I place an order I want to receive my items within a reasonable time line, and as things do happen I don’t mind, and even understand, the surprises…once in a while. This brings me to the big online “Mc-LNS” shops (we all know who they are) that are my go-tos, for the fact that their focus is on the online shopper, and with that focus I relish the ease of ordering, abundance of stock, and ready communication. The point of my ramble? The “online only” stitching shop has become my LNS.

  6. Kelly, Thanks for a wonderful blog entry. It really hit home with me. I picked the worst time in the world to get into stitching. When I first started stitching in the mid 80s there were alot of stitching shops in my area. In fact, when I bought my first kit at a Ben Franklin store, the lady that sold it to me told me about some of the LNSs in the area. I got a chance to go to some of them, but as I got more involved with stitching, they started to close down. I always looked forward to the Stitching Jubilee that came to Hershey and then moved to Lancaster. Sadly, it’s gone too. Now there are none in the central PA area. Most are hybrid shops that carry a limited supply of anything.

    One other thing I find humorous, as a male stitcher, is when my wife and I walk into a shop when we’re traveling and they talk to her and pretty much ignore me. You see, she doesn’t stitch. She tells them that her husband is the stitcher, she is just tagging along. At 6′ 4″ and about 280 lbs, some folks don’t guess that I’m the stitcher until they see some of the pieces I’ve produced. There are also some shops that I’ve gone into and received a cold reception, I always thought it’s because I’m a guy in predominantly female hobby/craft. After reading your blog, maybe I’m wrong. (There you go a guy admitting he might be wrong…..LOL)

  7. Sounds all too familar. No advertising, poor customer service, bad hours, lack of current products. I’ve had similar experiences. It’s no wonder that LNS’s are dying away.

  8. Unfortunately I feel your pain; I started stitching about 1990 and we had the greatest LNS in my town, wonderful help; stitching groups, great supply of fabric, etc. I got too busy for stitching and quit for about 20 years; during that time, the owner fell ill, and store closed. The closest LNS to me is 200 miles, and I try to shop them whenever I am in that city, particularly for fabric. and specialty threads — you just want to touch the fabric, and see the colors, and lay thread on the fabric to see how they work, etc. I have had the same experiences tho with no response to an email, only to hear that they “don’t have email” although there is a Contact Us on the website. Also, I can order on-line anything I need and have it a few days later delivered to my door. If I had a closer LNS I would try to buy everything there as I really want to support these stores, even if items are somewhat more expensive, but unfortunately they seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs.

  9. Denise Novak says:

    Here’s the thing – you can’t make a living owning a stitch shop. The amount of inventory that has to be carried by the shop and turned over pretty quickly to make room for new designs must be very expensive. Then there is the fabric, complete lines of thread and all the other extras most shops carry. I really believe in these economic times a small, niche business such as a needlework shop can’t pay for itself. In western Pennsylvania where I live, there have been at least 5 shops which have closed in the past 10 years. One shop owner wanted to sell her store but no one wanted to buy it. I truly admire those folks who manage to keep their shops open and I try to give them my business as often as I can .

  10. I am lucky enough to have three (yes three) LNS within an hour from my house! Can’t afford to go to them always…seems like when you walk in one you spend ALOT more than planned! I do have one favorite that I order from and visit the most and that is Inspired Needle in Lemont, IL. Cathy is great and she will mail your order to you or hold it for you to pick up. If you are in the area I encourage you to stop in and pay her a visit!

  11. Amy Womack says:

    I love the shops but agree they are now hard to find. I don’t even know if one in my area….

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