I'm in Brisbane, and yesterday I visited Tangled Yarns. It's the kind of yarn store where you breath a sigh of pleasure as you enter the front door.
It set me wondering just what it is that makes some yarn stores so immediately attractive. There are the obvious things such as a selection of interesting yarns that are updated and changed from time to time. Tangled Yarns certainly meets this criterion, and I was particularly attracted on this visit by a vibrant display of recently arrived Cascade Yarns' 'Forest Hills' - a merino/silk laceweight yarn.
It's also appealing if the yarns are attractively but accessibly arranged. Tangled Yarns is a riot of colour beautifully arranged against a sparking white background. All the yarns invite inspection and touching - the very thing that bricks-and-morter stores have in their favour when compared with the stiff opposition from on-line shopping. The staff are knowledgeable and helpful, but not intrusive if you're browsing. There are lots of knitting magazines for reading, and buttons, bags and other knitting accessories for examination.
But there are two things that I find particularly attractive about this shop. One is the light...natural light that streams through the large shopfront window. Perhaps this is a particularly Brisbane phenomenon, where the natural light is so bright, but it certainly helps in choosing and matching yarn colours. The second is that the shop has lots of chairs. Maybe this is less obvious, but the chairs and their use invite you to linger and to think of the shop as a site of activity, not just commerce. On yesterday's visit there was a small class of people grouped around a table, a couple of people knitting and chatting on the deep, comfortable sofas, and some chairs at a table covered in magazines where I felt able to pause and leaf through (and eventually buy) some of the latest publications. Clearly, a successful store needs to think beyond the most immediate concerns of buying and selling.
On second thoughts, there was a third attractive thing about this shop yesterday - the air conditioning. Buying yarn in 30 degree celsius heat is much more possible with effective air-conditioning!