I’m big on transparency and laying all the cards on the table, so today I decided it was time to show you exactly how the DFW Yarn Crawl works. I don’t want there to be any secrets or speculation, and if this post doesn’t answer your questions, please contact me so I can ‘splain it better. I’m mostly addressing our DFW Crawlers, because the shops and sponsors already know this stuff.
I hesitated to write this because it seems a bit like breaking down and telling your kid there’s no Santa Claus–that it’s actually parents who put that stuff under the tree, but, we’re grownups and I think you can handle it. Let’s look inside the elves’ workshop, so to speak, and take a look at the machinery…
Several years ago, it dawned on me that DFW didn’t have a yarn crawl like the other big cities. This disturbed me, because we have as much yarny goodness and talent (arguably more) as any other city, am I right? I poked around a bit, asking friends, checking out other cities’ crawl websites just to get the lay of the land. How did other cities do it? Was there any good reason we couldn’t do it here?
I found out a few things. “Yarn Crawl” is not a federally defined term, like “organic” or “hypoallergenic.” First of all, every city does their crawl a little bit differently. Some crawls charge Crawlers to participate, others don’t. Some have coordinated events between all the destinations, others allow the shops to do their own things. When I visited with a couple of the shops around here about why no one had started one before, it came down to two main reasons: 1) nobody had time to do it, and 2) if any one shop took the lead, the others would feel at a disadvantage because they’re all in a bit of a friendly competition. As much as they all know and like each other and want to support the yarn arts, they all do compete for the same yarn dollars in the marketplace.
I have a fiber farm; I understand yarn, but I don’t really compete with any of our local yarn shops. So I had the necessary objectivity to organize a crawl fairly and to provide a level playing field. I also had nothing but time to kill. OK, that’s a ridiculous statement, but I did have the passion to make the time to give the grand experiment a try. The first year, we threw the thing together in under six weeks. And for that level of investment on everyone’s part, I’d say it was a pretty nice success. This encouraged me to try it again a second year. My volunteer friends and I had learned a few things and had some ideas to make it better. I invested in some web design, printed materials, swag, and I really fired up the social media side of the crawl.
I also wanted to highlight our independent yarn artists in addition to the traditional brick and mortar shops, since that independent spirit is what really makes all of us tick. That independent spirit is what prompted your LYS owners to take the huge personal and financial risks and open shops in this crazy economy, and be here for you day in and day out. That spunk and spirit is also what you have to thank for the fact that you have options outside of Walmart and Michael’s for yarn. THANK YOU LYS’s! That independent spirit also inspired our cowgirl logo because it evokes the images of amazing pioneer women who have blazed trails before us, right here in Texas.
Now, we’re in our third year and we’re still learning and trying new things. The goal is to get the word out about all the amazing yarn and fiber options available to DFW hobbyists and artists. And personally, I need to make a couple bucks for my time and trouble–I’m an independent business person, too.
So this is how the crawl works–Buck Naked Time:
Yarn Shops pay the organizer (me) for two things: 1) advertising and 2) foot traffic. The fee they pay gets them up on our website and allows me to publicize their shops, their stories, their events, their uniqueness in the market. I do everything I can to give Crawlers a reason to travel to their shops. As a hard core free market person, I don’t tell shops what they must do to entice crawlers. They are each free to tailor the experience to suit their own personalities and abilities. Some provide little gifts, patterns, parties, contests, or whatever. This can mean more expense (imagine providing stuff for 300-600 crawlers!) and labor for them. This is their investment in you – please accept their gifts graciously. This should go without saying.
Sponsors pay me and/or provide prizes for “promotional consideration” (advertising). They get valuable website real estate and they get me singing their praises on all kinds of targeted platforms. The prizes the sponsors and I provide give Crawlers incentive to hit as many shops as possible. Crawling can be its own reward, but free stuff is always a plus!
Independent Arts pay me a smaller amount, because they’re usually sole proprietorships with yarn and fiber businesses on the side of day jobs. For that fee they get space on the website linked to their own website, and my help setting up trunk shows or demos, usually in conjunction with one of our brick and mortar destinations. You get to learn that they exist, you get to see the awesome stuff they make, and you have a way to connect with them later.
Crawlers get to see new shops, experience different yarn environments, get a fun road trip with their friends (or alone, if they prefer), and have a chance to win some free stuff. It’s a great time of year to be re-energizing your hooks and needles for the cool weather or holiday craft season. You get the chance to enhance your stash with that great new yarn(s) you’ve been wanting to see in person and take home with you.
Charity. Because we all really have more yarn than we can possibly use (there, I said it), and because we might need some encouragement to buy more under these circumstances, AND because charities always need yarn and finished items, we’ve included a charity component to the crawl. At each destination you will find a de-stash bin to pass on your extra yarns for GREAT CAUSES. Newborns in Need will be handling all this for us and it’s a wonderful, wonderful way to let go of your extra yarn and feel good about it.
Yarn Crawl Spirit – So that’s it. Those are all the hows and whys. And I just want to take one minute to say something that I hope won’t come off harsh or mean, but I think it needs to be said. This is about having fun. This is about seeing new places and having a great fall yarn excursion (or days of excursions!). We’ve tried to design the crawl so that everyone wins – the shops, the indie artists, the sponsors, the crawlers, and even me, the organizer. This is not Halloween and you are not children going door to door demanding candy. Let’s all show some class and be nice to each other, K? Gifts and prizes come without strings, so it’s common courtesy to say thank you. I’ve been getting some whiffs that “some” crawlers are getting demanding (from the shops) and that “some” shops are not giving out enough goodies (from the crawlers). Folks, let’s lighten up. Nobody owes anybody anything but respect. Everything about the DFW Yarn Crawl is free for Crawlers, by design, so keep your happy faces on, y’all–it’s all good. On the other hand, the shops need to treat you respectfully and helpfully. You’re there to improve their bottom line and that’s wonderful. Thank you so, so much.
One more time, this is about having fun.
The shops and sponsors appreciate your patronage–they really do. They want you to be happy. They want you to come back and purchase from them over and over, and they’re working hard to earn your business. And I love watching the game unfold–I love watching the joy on everyone’s faces as we drink in all the color, texture, design, talent and adventure of the Crawl. So, come October 3, LET’S DO THIS THING!
And I’m open to your ideas and suggestions. Really. If you have thoughts about this year’s crawl, or future crawls, please email me or comment on this post. I can’t promise to accommodate every idea, but if I can’t, I’ll be happy to tell you why. Thanks for reading this far…
Peace and Yarn.