Sunday 8 March 2015

Baa Ram Ewe's Harrogate Branch To Close

On Thursday subscribers to baa ram ewe's email newsletter received the shocking news that their Harrogate branch is to close, with its last day of trading being on April 2nd. The Leeds branch, recently located to Chapel Allerton, is not affected.

Baa ram ewe is one of my favourite yarn shops, stocking an edited collection of Yorkshire yarns and other luxurious wool and championing small-scale British designers. Whilst it's not the cheapest place to shop for wool it's certainly the most stylish and up to date, knocking spots off the cliche of the old-fashioned wool store.

Not all its supporters in Harrogate will be able to travel to Chapel Allerton instead, and indeed that store has two steps up to the entrance, making it inaccessible for wheelchair users, people with walking difficulties, and those with prams. Customers will still be able to buy online, but of course this isn't suitable for people wanting to check the difficultly of patterns and feel yarn before they buy. Plus there's the cost of postage and, if the product isn't exactly what you wanted, return postage to obtain a refund.

So is the Harrogate branch a victim of the recession? Not so says the company:

"Being a small business and running this wonderful company brings us so much joy, but in amongst this there are sometimes difficult choices to make. Although we have had tremendous support from our Harrogate customers we feel that two shops, along with our global travels with our Titus yarn, means we are simply not giving our best to all parts of the business. We are very sad to close the store and it has been a very hard decision to make, but we hope it will make the rest of baa ram ewe an even better experience for everyone."

I've as yet, however, to hear of a company closing a thriving and profitable store. Here's hoping that Harrogate's closure, only a few months after the comparable yarn store Mrs Moon in St Margarets, near Twickenham, shut its doors and went online only, isn't indicative of a downturn in the fortunes of British yarn stores. Whilst online stores have their place, they can't replace a top quality local wool shop that champions local designers and brings the knitting community together.

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