Knitting and Spinning Heaven
Hey Dizzy… is this heaven?
No, Fred, it’s The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop in East Rochester, New York.
Welcome to The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop! My name is Karen Petito and I am one of the owners of the shop and wanted to give you some background on who we are and why we are here. Back in 2007 my daughter Sarah Reilly and I were dreaming of starting a small shop together focused primarily on spinning. We both were long enamored with all of the fiber arts and had spent many years enjoying knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, quilting and many other forms of needlework while raising our families and working in various other venues over time, primarily in the realm of software. We were not strangers to small business as we had both been deeply involved in another family business, ActiveLabs Development, a software development company specializing in custom applications together with my husband Carl and our sons Daniel and Michael. And so, based on our love of working together, the fiber arts and a desire to trade our computers for the three dimensional sensory rich world of yarn and fiber and interacting with other people equally smitten with an addiction to being in a room filled with color and texture, the peaceful meditative quality of both the rhythmic click of knitting needles and whirring of spinning wheels, and the easy camaraderie that comes with it all we began to research possibilities.
Quite serendipitously, we learned that our favorite yarn shop in Rochester, The Village Yarn Shop, which at the time was located in Midtown Plaza, was about to close. The owner was retiring and moving out of the area. We decided we simply could not let this happen. The beauty, long history and culture of the shop were too precious a resource to the Rochester area to let it simply fade into memory as so many other businesses have and so we formed a partnership and purchased the shop together, determined to keep its culture alive and add our own spin to it.
Beginning in April 2007 and with the help and support of more people than I can possibly recount here, all of whom either actually are or are now considered family whether still working with us or not, we managed to form our partnership, put together a sound business plan, negotiate an agreement, successfully court Van Black-Winhaber (the original store manager of 26 years who we really wanted to hire as our manager though we joked about her being part of the purchase), apply for and obtain a small business loan, inventory everything, complete our purchase, move tons of yarn (*note: no matter what Dennis Leary says in his Ford truck commercial, 4 tons of yarn in a truck weighs as much as 4 tons of bricks), establish new relationships with local fiber suppliers, secure dealership status with several spinning wheel suppliers, and find and relocate to our present location in East Rochester at 350 West Commercial Street across from the Piano Works Mall (a location known to many as the East Rochester Quadriangle, but that’s another story).
Through it all and from the very beginning, my sister, Linda Nally, who at the time was a special education teacher, worked tirelessly at my side on everything. We could not have done it without her. Family - there is nothing quite like the support of family.
And Van said yes! She came on board as our manager and brought her invaluable knowledge and experience to us. I’m pretty sure she thought we were crazy, but in the end we adopted her as our sister, and, well, family - there is nothing quite like the support of family.
Our grand opening was in August of 2007. We did it!
It was successful beyond our expectations. The store was fully stocked and beautiful. Happy customers were filling the aisles and standing in line at the checkout. The press showed up! Our first newsletter was out and fall classes were already scheduled and people were registering for them!
Shortly after we opened, and with the appropriate moral turpitude clauses, we welcomed Linda officially as our third partner and then Van officially as our fourth partner.
Within a month of opening we went for the first time as The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop as a vendor to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival in Hemlock and by December we had conceived and launched DizzySheep.com and introduced Dizzy, Fred and the gang to the world with the help of Carl, Daniel and Michael of ActiveLabs Development.
It was then and is still now amazing, to be standing in the middle of our realized dream. It is not always easy nor is it ever wildly financially prosperous, but from the long time regular customers, to the new people who are just stopping in for the first time, to the feisty Thursday night knitters, to the Dizzy-ites, to the Friday group, to community projects and fundraisers, to the thousands of projects we have had the privilege to help conceive, facilitate, fix in times of distress or finish, it is all worthwhile. And to everyone who walks through our door, we truly hope you leave the stress of the rest of your life at that door and find what you are looking for be it that special yarn, a new passion, a learning experience, help with your project, respite, joy, peace, quiet, perspective, a sense of well-being, belonging, feeling at home, here - in our shop – which is really your shop. We could not be here without you. So thank you for enabling us and letting us be part of your creative life!