People always get a bit het up (and rightly so) around election time, telling you to 'use your vote'. People sacrificed huge amounts so that we all had the right to vote, so we shouldn't waste our opportunities to get our voice heard...
...now, whilst for most people, the British Knitting Awards 2015 aren't on *quite* the same level as the general election, for others, they have quite an impact. Yes, that would be the likes of little old me.
We've been lucky enough to be nominated for Best Independent Yarn Store in the South East of England for the second year running (nope, we didn't win last year *sob*). Nominated by you. And to be honest, that alone is a little overwhelming. But I'd be a bit silly if I let the overwhelming emotions take over so much that I didn't urge you all to go and actually vote for us as well...
You can also vote for us in the 'Best Website' category, the 'Best Online Store' category, and most excitingly, 'Best Yarn Shop Day Experience' category. For all of these, you need to choose 'other' and then pop us in the box.
So, why should you vote for us Sconches? Well, for a start, because you love us. But apart from the obvious, to help raise awareness of us. We are a bit in the middle of nowhere here, as Local Yarn Stores go, and 90% of Braintree still don't know we are here. Which is a tragedy. Not least because without sales, we shut. By us winning, we get more publicity and help raise our profile. It also raises awareness of the online store, which lots of people have never heard of.
We battle daily with crazy price wars, but think that on the whole, we are fairly competitive. But it is tough. Big yarn shops offer crazy deals like 30% off, because they can, and our sales shrivel. And then on the other end of the sale, small sellers pop up and also offer crazy prices - either because they don't actually understand that making 10p on a ball of yarn isn't sustainable, or because they don't have any overheads. (That's a rant for another day though). It is just the way it is. But if more people know about us, this has less impact as we have a bigger loyal customer base.
And also, and perhaps most importantly, because (if i do say so myself), we offer amazing customer service. We always have done. I'm online practically all the time to answer questions, put colour packs together, and help you with your technical questions. And I do all of this with a family to look after.
I think because we have a fairly swanky website, and because you always get your orders next day, and because generally we are always about, it can mean that people forget that it is mainly just me. With a 2 year old in tow. And a lot of duplo. And a doting husband who helps where he can. Yes, I have 2 amazing members of staff, but they work a handful of hours a week, and they deal with the shop side of things, helping with the Craft'n'Cake sessions, packing orders 1 or 2 days a week. The rest of the time, all of the website stuff, the marketing stuff, the finance, the classes, and the 'all-of-the-other-bits' stuff is just me. And that is a lot for one person to do.
This past year has been a bit of a rollercoaster year for us, both from a personal and a business point of view, for reasons I won't go in to. There have been several times when we thought we would be closing. But we are still here, still battling, because I love my job. I love craft, I love yarn, and I love my customers (yes, even the slightly oddball ones). I love teaching, and I love helping people.
So I am asking you to vote. To vote for me. The person who would answer all of your endless questions whilst doing the night feeds at 3am (yes, that is right, for those that can't quite believe it, lots of yarny people have babies too - it was a bit like a night feeding yarnaholics group...), who works 7 days a week to make sure things work (reasonably) smoothly, who has packed orders with a baby strapped to her chest, then later, strapped to her ankle (not literally for that bit of course...I don't actually shackle the Sconchlet) and who devotes her whole life to yarn. We might be bigger, but I am still the same mammy who you all started shopping with 2 and a half years ago.
So go and vote, and make your vote count. (vote for me!)