Shop local and make a change!

 Hello knitters!

I thank each and every one of you in advance for taking the time to read this blog, top to bottom. Shopping and supporting local business is something that is incredibly important to me and all I can do is hope that I can make my customers think twice about where they put their money. I wrote this a few days ago and sincerely hope that you will read it and start your own research about shopping and supporting local businesses and what a difference it can make in our local economy- no matter where you live!
 Well that time has come; Michael’s is finally opening in North Bay. We have had questions for months asking are we worried about Michael’s coming to town and even comments from customers telling us we need to be prepared for Michael’s because we will lose business.

Here’s what I know: When you spend your money at a locally owned business, 70% OR MORE of that money stays within your community which in turn improves your local economy and offers more opportunity for business owners to offer more job positions, reducing travel and commute times out of town, reducing gas emissions and enticing more families to reside in this area. When you shop locally you are allowing businesses to pay their rent to their local landlords who own the buildings, you allow them to feed their families with food purchased at the local farmer’s market, grocery store or at a local restaurant, you allow them to clothe their children and themselves with items purchased at locally owned clothing shops and on top of that, you allow them to live their dreams of creating and running a successful business in a small town community where the citizens love to shop and support local as much as possible. Can you see the cycle?

On the flip side, when you decide to spend your money at a chain store or restaurant,29% or less of the money you spend actually stays within the community. Often times these chains are bringing in people from other provinces to do training or to fill positions, therefore not benefitting any local citizens- I do understand that positions are made available to locals as well, but not entirely. The money going in to these businesses and being spent at these businesses, is often going out of province to a head corporation, and even out of the country and barely benefits the local community at all. The owners of these companies have no idea who you are, nor will they ever meet you in person and so many of these large chains are owned by the states- how does that benefit us in Canada?

Local shops within North Bay pride themselves on being able to deliver all of the information about their products because we specifically and carefully choose every single item that comes in to the store. You can pick our brains about anything you have questions on and we also train our staff specifically to know about every product as well.We strive to offer fantastic customer service and although we know we can’t please everyone, we do our very best to make sure each and every customer that walks through our doors, leaves happy and with all their questions answered and feeling confident about their purchases.
Stix and Stones has been a part of the local community for over 5 years. We are now in our sixth year of business and going strong! We have an amazing amount of support from customers locally as well as all over the province and country. We have students that come to our classes every week asking us questions that help to improve their knitting techniques and I love being able to pass along the love of knitting to everyone that comes in to my store. My staff is knowledgeable and trained specifically on the craft of knitting as well as all the yarns and fibres that we carry. We know how to substitute our yarns for different patterns, we know what will work and what won’t for certain patterns and WHY. We won’t sell you wool when the pattern calls for cotton because of the vast differences in their fiber properties. We will tackle every question you throw at us and send it back to you with the most information we can possibly give you on that subject and if we don’t know, then we do the research to find out. We are committed to providing the best customer service that we can and we are committed to our customers. We offer help and support throughout the process of you knitting your project and we are always here to fix and help with any mistakes. We will sit down and decipher a pattern with mistakes for you so you can continue knitting and we have been occasionally known to even untangle mass amounts of yarn that the dog or cat have gotten in to. What chain store have you been to that will ever offer you that type of service?
At Stix and Stones, we focus mainly on natural fibers for a variety of reasons:
  • Natural fibers breathe as opposed to synthetics which keep the heat and sweat in making you clammy- contrary to popular belief, synthetics are NOT better for babies for exactly this reason
  • Natural fibers hold their shape in garments much better than synthetics that are prone to losing their shape after even just one wash.
  • Natural fibers renew much better than synthetic- meaning after you wash them in the proper wool wash, they can look brand new!
  • Natural fibers last much longer than synthetics with the proper care- they are great heirloom pieces to be handed down from person to person
  • Natural fibers are much nicer to work with- they slide easier on your needles, they are much nicer on your hands and we avoid any “squeaky” yarn issues!
These are just a few points as to why we work with more natural fibers versus synthetic. There are many different grades of fibers and you can tell just from something being“itchy” (low quality) versus the same fiber content being "soft" (high quality) and we tend to carry more high quality fibers that do not contain the itch factor. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot be allergic to wool as it is a protein fiber which is the same genetic makeup as human hair and fingernails and the probability of being allergic to wool is the same probability as being allergic to your own hair and fingernails.Generally when you wear a fiber and it “itches” that means you have sensitive skin and should gravitate towards higher grade fibers such as merino wool or superwash options. If you get hives from wearing or working with wool, that would be caused by the lanolin which is oil produced on the sheep’s fur. This allergy effects a very low percentage of people and you will be surprised to find that many cosmetic products contain lanolin which you might be using without even knowing. If you do in fact have a lanolin allergy, we carry options such as alpaca- which is hypo-allergenic- cotton, bamboo and silk that does not contain lanolin. Superwash fibers also do not contain lanolin because they are processed so they do not shrink when you wash them and you will be able to use these fibers with a lanolin allergy even if they are 100% wool.

If you believe that the yarns we carry are the same as what Michael’s or any other chain store carries, you would be wrong. We do not just carry a more expensive version of the same thing, we carry a higher quality natural fiber that may be more expensive per ball but generally gives you more yardage and a better finished project that, with proper care, will last a lifetime. On top of that, we believe in buying our products from Canadian suppliers as much as possible and I am incredibly proud to say that at this point in my business- almost 100% of our products are purchased from Canadian suppliers!
The bottom line: Any chain store cannot and will not offer the experience and customer service of a locally owned business, nor do they have the product knowledge to be able to help you out as much as you need. Shopping and supporting local means your money stays within your community and helps to build your economy. The choice is ultimately yours but when it comes to yarn shopping, if you personally choose to spend your money on yarn at Michael’s instead of at your local yarn store, then Stix and Stones will cease to exist.

We are so confident that our customer base will continue to support us and that you will all continue to shop locally as much and as often as possible. If each person in our population of 54,000 people in North Bay spent $19 more per month per family member then our local gross revenue would increase by over $12,000,000- yes that is twelve million dollars! Think of what we could do with that and how many jobs we could open up with that. That’s less than $5 per week- think about it. Can YOU make that change?

Happy knitting!

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