Sunday, February 26, 2006

Just In Case You Were Wondering

Ever wondered how yarn winds up where it does in the shop? Why this yarn on this shelf, in this bin? Of course you have. It probably went something like this: "So she said this one was the right gauge for my project, and this one, and . . . this one over here . . . and, wait, wasn't there one on this wall, too? Couldn't they just keep all the DK-weight yarns in the same place??"

You wish. So do we.

Most often, what determines a yarn's location is its put-up, which is the industry term for the shape of the unit: is it 50 grams or 100? And is it in a hank (like Manos or Peruvian Tweed), a twisty skein (like Rapture or Summer Tweed), a doughnut shape (Cashsoft DK or Natasha), a pull-skein (Alpaca Lace or Blizzard), or wound on a spool (Suede or Oriental [which is on sale, by the way])? Even with the versatile shelving system we've got in the West Wing (thanks again, Brent!), some yarns don't work in some places. Some yarns shouldn't be shelved at all, since the skein tends to fall apart as soon as you turn your back.

Or there are so many colors (La Gran) that you can't hope to show them all. This is a chronic problem with Big Wool, but we do it anyway: if it's a yarn we're constantly selling a lot of, we don't want to have to run into the back room for it every minute every day. So if projects frequently call for just a skein or two, we'll devote more shelf space to a yarn, so that people will be able to help themselves.

Which brings us to Provence. What are there, 50 colors? Through the winter, demand was low, and we let the color selection diminish, and we hung a skein of each color on a series of rods in the West Wing, near the other non-wool options (Manos Cotton, Celia, All-Seasons Cotton--see, we try to put yarns of similar function together!). But once the Spring magazines start coming out, and the Spring yarns come in, we're going to be reaching for Provence constantly. It's going to need some serious real estate.

In past summers, Provence has gone in the big glass bins in the front room. This has worked well for several reasons: the colors are very visible. There's enough room for all of them, and for more than just a skein or two of each (that fixture is the single most capacious in the shop, barring the Manos wall). Because the skeins are big, they don't avalanche out of the bins every time someone picks one up. And because Provence is the perfect yarn for so many Spring and summer projects all the time, people have to look at it--even though it's over the bench, where there are often people sitting. See, as prominent as that location is, customers often won't browse it at all; whether they're aware of it or not, they're reluctant to disturb anyone sitting anywhere nearby. So we've learned--it took years--that we're dooming a yarn to failure if we put it there, unless it's something that people just have to have: like sock yarn, or Provence, or (sometimes) Noro.

(Notice that it's not just the characteristics of the yarn that come into play when we're deciding where to put something: it's the characteristics of the fixtures, too.)

So Provence is going back into its old spot, here:

But wait! That space wasn't empty before. It was full of sock yarn. Where does the sock yarn go? We thought we'd try the gridbin at the bottom of the stairs--the small bins work best for the small skeins, and that wall is another one where people are reluctant to linger. (That's why the Koigu goes there: because people will do anything for Koigu.)

So we move the sock yarn here:

But wait! That space wasn't empty before. It was full of ribbon and fluffy stuff and things that are good for silly scarves. Hmm. Some went onto the dowels the Provence used to occupy, on the theory that the scarf season is winding down, so it won't be such a problem to have those yarns where people have to ask us to get them from the back room. Some moved to the bookcase by the register, because there were so few skeins left. Some went into baskets on the floor, waiting for inspiration. Some went into the sale bin. Like this:


Frankly, that was a pretty simple move: time-consuming, but straightforward. So the next time you come into the shop and see a few boxes, like this:

--and then, a day or two later, you come in again, and see this:

--bear with us. It's not as simple as it looks.

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