In Portland, Oregon’s buzzing Hawthorne District, handiwork-toting urbanites are flocking to a yarn boutique unlike any other.
Happy Knits specializes in selling natural fibers from indie dyers and small U.S. companies.
The first tip-off that this place is unique among craft stores is its quirky window display: a recent one showcased a hand-knitted Super Mario Bros. scene with fireballs, a Bob-omb, Fire Flower and Star, and of course, Mario and his archenemy Bowser.
"It’s super valuable to us to be able to have a POS system that allows us to run our online and physical stores out of the same inventory, and have that inventory update automatically."
Even more notable, the store boasts a cozy common room—with gas fireplace, comfy couches and children’s play area—where knitters and their families drop in to take lessons, work on projects, hang out, or use the free WiFi to access Ravelry, a fiber-arts social networking website, for ideas, inspiration and information.
Happy Knits’ owner, Sarah Young, says she knew what she wanted in a yarn store, but it didn’t exist. So she built it herself.
Once the brick-and-mortar location opened in 2009, Sarah and her staff harnessed social media to stir up business. They later launched an online shop and a blog (publicizing sales, new products, tips, contests, classes, in-store events, etc.). Sales now stream in from around the world.
“We get dozens of online orders every week, mostly from the U.S., but we also have lots of customers in Canada, Australia, France and the U.K.,” says Jessa Clark, the store’s “virtual Jill-of-all-trades,” who handles online customer support, social media marketing, website updates, and blogging for happyknits.com.
"Making the decision to use Lightspeed for our online store is probably our biggest victory. It will allow us do sell everywhere. "