As part of our Love Your Yarn Shop campaign, we chat to Hilary Bath, owner of The Dropped Stitch. Now in their 30th year of trading, The Dropped Stitch is an inspiration for traditional bricks and mortar yarns shops.
What first inspired you to open The Dropped Stitch?
Being a knitter since the age of 4, I have always had a passion for knitting and crafts. I started saving for my first wool shop at the age of 14, and opened my first shop at the age of 20. After 3 and a half years, I moved to Portslade, and opened The Dropped Stitch.
What do you think is the key to a successful bricks & mortar yarn shop?
Personal service is a big help. Customers often come in with their projects, half finished, asking for help on a specific row or pattern section. We can get them back on their way quickly and often get to see the finished article a couple of weeks later. Some customers even say thank you with a small box of chocolates!
How has The Dropped Stitch changed in the past 30 years?
We started off with just one range of yarn, as we only had a small shop. Over time, and after two expansions, we took on four other wholesalers, and included multiple yarns, along with all different needles and accessories. We also took on school uniforms and logo embroidery just over 20 years ago, to diversify and survive. Recently, we have also added needle felting to our range.
We have a fully functioning website and Facebook page, along with a Facebook craft selling page, for customers to sell their own projects when they have completed them. Our son does all the online parts of the business, as he is much better at it than we are. This way, we are more capable of keeping up with technological advances that occur around us.
One of the biggest changes for us is that we are now creating and selling our own range of knitting patterns. We currently have 25 in the range, with plans for many more!
What are your plans for The Dropped Stitch in the future?
We would love to expand our shop further, taking on many other yarns and possibly new manufacturers. After two expansions we are running out of space, so we are trying to fit a quart into a pint pot at the moment.
Do you have any memorable stories?
I have recently tried to teach my three year old grandson to knit. After his mother and I told him to put the yarn around the needle, he spun the yarn around multiple times, making a complete mess but having loads of fun at the same time!