Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekly update!

It has been a busy week for us! If you've been following us on Facebook and Twitter then you know that we successfully completed our lease negotiations and took possession of our new store property! It has been a long(ish), frustrating(ish) road but we're finally there and ready to start working on getting the store ready to open.

So, when's the grand opening? Well, we're not 100% sure at this point but it looks as if we'll be ready sometime around mid-August. The work we have to do to get the store ready really won't take all that long but everything has to be approved by the landlord and go through the Clark County permitting process, which we're told will take about four weeks from start to finish.

Let's talk a little about the store!

First, location. We'll be located in the Hazel Dell Towne Center, the shopping center off of Hazel Dell Avenue with Target, Office Depot, and Petco. We are in the section that contains the old Best Buy store (easy to find because of the big blue fascia!) in the "L"-shaped west building. Suite 120 is at the end of the short leg of the "L". Someday soon there'll be a big sign proclaiming our existence but, for now, just look for the empty end store with lots of stuff going on inside!

The store itself is 1,800 square feet, roughly 60' by 30', with entrances on both short walls and two banks of windows on the exterior long wall. A simple floorplan is shown at right. We'll have a nice, long group work table in front of the large bank of windows, giving plenty of natural light. You can see a picture of that table in a previous post but it's a tall gathering table with bar-height chairs. We think it'll be very comfortable to work at even for a long while. We'll also have a couple of nice seating areas with leather armchairs and, of course, the "cuddle chair" for whoever wants to knit in sheer comfort. Please try to stay awake!

Our fixtures will mostly be white, with most of our stock displayed on IKEA Kallax shelving units or IKEA Lack shelves. We'll probably also have a couple of slatwall carousels with tools and notions and may display pre-packaged fiber that way as well.

The main store floor will be finished concrete stained with Valspar's etching concrete stain in lovely cayenne. We haven't selected the paint for the walls yet but have narrowed it down to a range of warm tans that complement the floor color.

Now, the restroom. First a picture of what we're working with (left). Yech, right? We plan on taking this from rest stop shabby to residential fabulous by removing most of the sterile commercial fixtures (the grab bars have to stay, of course, due to ADA regulations and to help those that need them) and replacing them with nice residential fixtures. We'll removing the existing vinyl flooring and replacing it with a nice tile and installing double-beaded wainscoting with baseboard and chair rail around the walls. We'll also be replacing the light and mirror with something a bit nicer.

Not pictured on the floorplan above is our dye lab, which will be installed in the in the southeast corner (the diagram above is oriented so up is north). Our architect is drawing this up for us right now and we'll post some specifications when we have them. Essentially, though, there'll be a countertop and a sink along with a heating device (still deciding if that's an oven, cooktop, both, or something else.)

If you haven't already, you might want to sign up for our weekly mailing list. We'll send subscribers a weekly e-mail with information about events that week and, once we're open, information about new arrivals, coming specials, and regular discount codes for use in the shop or at our online store.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Keep in touch!

We've started a mailing list for Urban Wolves news. If you'd like to sign up please look in the sidebar at right under "Pages" and click the "Urban Wolves Mailing List" link. We'll be sending out, on average, one message each week summarizing our news, new products, classes, events, and so on. You can subscribe with one click if you ever decide to stop receiving this information.

Our mailing list service is being managed through MailChimp. This is a new service for us so please let us know of any comments or complaints you have. Thanks!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A little update!

After a little light reading (a 70ish-page lease agreement and attachments) and some back and forth it looks as if we'll be signing our lease agreement early next week! We'll officially take possession of the property on July 1st but we have to do a bit of work to get it ready to be a functioning store. Most of the project is just finish work but we have to get some big stuff taken care of too, mainly a lighted exterior sign, and some of that requires fabricators and architects and other professionals and has to go through a permitting process. The short of it is that we'd like to be in and selling by mid-July but we might not be able to get approved for opening the doors until more like early-August. We're keeping our fingers crossed though!

In the meantime, we're still ordering stock and working on setting up our inventory database and Web store. Our point-of-sale system and online store provider, Shopify, has been a breeze to work with so far. We received our terminal equipment mid-week and got it up and running quickly and have begun entering the Rowan shipment we received on Thursday.


Progress on the online store has been smooth. We found a third-party template, Alchemy from Clean Themes, that has all of the features we need and works well across all devices (it even has support for Retina displays) and have started creating the artwork to make it our own. You can see a little preview below but we'll be doing a lot more to it before the store is ready to go live. 

Late last week we also placed an order you might be interested to hear about: some awesome cashmere and silk-cashmere blend yarns from Jade Sapphire! Now, be warned, Jade Sapphire is not cheap stuff...but it sure is luxe. You have to feel it to believe it.

In Mongolian cashmere we will have Blue Pearl and Jasmine in 6-ply (see colors here), Seeing Red and True Blue in 4-ply, and Green Tea, Japanese Maple, Velvet Underground, and Thunder Storm in 2-ply. Then there's Brigadoon, where we chose Stone of Scone, Heather on the Hill, Single Malt, In the Gloaming, and Highland Mist. Finally, in silk cashmere, we picked up (colors here) Blue Pearl, Critical Moss, Gourdgeous, Jasmine, Navy, Red Dahlia, Sandstone, Silver Fox, and Tuscan Sunset.

Almost forgot! We also picked up a few scarf kits too: for him in Alpha Maroon and Five-O'Clock Shadow and for her in Spice Girl and Violets Are Blue. We ordered an extra Spice Girl kit to knit up for the shop! These will retail for $110 but the scarves are WOW and they'd make an excellent holiday or birthday gift, knitted or in kit form, for your favorite knit-worthy person...or you can just, you know, treat yourself!

We'll be placing more orders next week, including a big one with Filatura Di Crosa, and with Bryson Distributing (we received our retailer welcome packet from them just yesterday). We're working on getting set up with Ashland Bay, Unicorn Books & Crafts, and a couple of other suppliers as well. More news on our inventory as it happens!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More orders placed!

With our store location coming together and our online store launching soon we'll be placing quite a few orders for inventory over the next couple of weeks. Yesterday we placed an order to expand our selection of yarns from Rowan and placed our first order with Manos del Uruguay!

First up, Rowan. We ordered the six new Fall 2014 colors and doubled up on some others from that company's Pure Wool Worsted collection. I've been enjoying working on a sampler scarf in Jade (#127). When it's all in we'll have 56 shades to choose from...along with a really cool life-sized sheep display to show off the collection. If you can't tell, we're excited about the sheep. We're also excited about the Martin Storey designs in Simple Shapes Pure Wool Worsted, which we'll have on hand to show what you can do with this excellent, affordable yarn.

Next, we purchased a small selection of Rowan's Fine Lace, made from baby suri alpaca and fine merino wool. We chose six lovely shades (Aged, Cameo, Era, Gunmetal, Quaint, and White) to start but may look to expand that as we see how it is received.

We ordered eight shades of Kidsilk Haze in two palettes and hope to show it off with a couple of scarves (see pictures below, right) that show off the palettes working together. In green we have Forest Green, Fern, Jelly, and Alhambra. In purples we have Blackcurrant, Liqueur, Blood, and Splendour.

Closer to winter we're looking at getting in some Alpaca Chunky, for which Rowan has some excellent patterns including hats, cowls, and other accessories. We're also looking at Rowan's Pure Wool DK and may put some on order if our customers think it's something we should carry. So. We put it to you: What do you think of these products?

Now, let's talk about Manos! First off we've got Alegria sock yarn, made from 75% superwash merino and 25% polyamide for improved wear. We'll have five beautiful colorways of this: Butia, Carnaval (fun!), Fondo del mar, Malvin, and Tannat.

Then we'll have Deep Sea and Terrain from Manos' awesome Serena line. This 60% baby alpaca and 40% pima cotton blend has a great feel and is very versatile. We hope you like it because there are so many more lovely shades in the collection and we'd like to stock more of this!

We'll also carry an initial selection of ten shades of Silk Blend:  Adobe, Arctic Shadow, Aster, Deep Sea, Lava, Oxblood, Pine, Tomato, Violets, and one other I can't seem to locate on the Manos site at the moment. Five of the choices above are semi-solid colors and the other five are multi-colored. This yarn blends 30% silk with 70% superfine merino wool and the colors are just beautiful!

Finally, we'll have Velvet and Esmerelda from Manos' new Franca line. We'll see how this does but there are some more tasty selections in the Franca palette we'd like to stock in the future.

And that's all the product news we have for now but hopefully it whets your appetites! For the rest of this week we'll be doing boring stuff like getting estimates for work on the store and figuring out what improvements we can make ourselves and buying insurance. We'll also be doing the gruntwork required to get our web store up and running and open that up for a limited "beta test" with a few customers. Next week, however, it's back to ordering more yarn! We've got some more great stuff on our list so stay tuned.

Monday, June 16, 2014

We have a store!

We just received word from our leasing agent that the owners of Hazel Dell Towne Center have accepted our offer and are drawing up lease paperwork! The lease will start on July 1st and we're hoping to be done with improvements to the space and be open sometime in mid-July. The store address is 9301 NE 5th Avenue, Suite G-120. It's in the same building as Sleep Country, Ichi Teriyaki, and Max Muscle Fitness.

We're very excited about this and other developments, like the coming launch of our web store. We'll post more as we have news to share so stay tuned!

Monday, June 9, 2014

First orders are in!

Today we placed orders for Madelinetosh and SweetGeorgia yarns and dyed fiber. See the previous post for details about what we ordered. We'll have the Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails and sample rings when we open (whenever that is!?!) but the main Madelinetosh order will take 12-14 weeks and SweetGeorgia will take about 10 weeks.

The SweetGeorgia manufacturer's representative tells us that we'll have the largest selection of that brand in the Pacific Northwest. We like it a lot and hope you will too!

We're still working on our location. The downtown property owners are deliberating on our offer now that all of the contractor bids are in and we have made an offer on another property and are still waiting to hear back on that. Still have our fingers crossed for downtown though.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Location and inventory update!

Another week and our location wrangling continues *sigh*. We'll get there eventually! We're continuing to discuss the downtown property with the landlord and his contractors but still don't have a counter offer back so we'll see what happens with that this week...hopefully. We've been pursuing a couple of other spots in newer shopping areas in Vancouver. They cost a bit more but are newer, nicer locations and have the benefit of more, cheaper (free!) parking. Any of them could be quite nice. We're still hoping for a mid-July opening date but still don't know for sure. Please stay tuned!

In the meantime we'll be placing an order for some Madelinetosh and SweetGeorgia tomorrow, since both of those brands take a bit longer between order and receipt.

From Madeline tosh we'll have a selection of 32 colors of Tosh Merino Light and 35 of Tosh DK as well as a complete set of Unicorn Tails! We see that a lot of retailers are marking these products at above MSRP...we don't have any plans to go beyond what Madelinetosh suggests we charge. We're also ordering a set of sample rings. The nice thing about Madelinetosh is that you can add to your order up until the point it goes in for dyeing so, if you like something we don't have on order we can special order it for you. It'll take a bit of time but we can get you what you want...and with 200+ colorways on their menu there's a lot to choose from!

From SweetGeorgia we'll have 20 colors of Tough Love Sock, 10 of Superwash DK, 10 of Superwash Worsted, and 10 of Superwash Chunky. The SweetGeorgia sock base blend includes 20% acrylic for better wear. Also from SweetGeorgia we'll have a small selection of hand-dyed fiber in a variety of colors and blends. We'll see about expanding this depending upon customer reception.

We'll post more about our opening inventory as we order (and receive!) it but won't be placing any more orders until we have our store lease figured out. Hopefully that will happen *very* soon!

What else has been going on? Apart from boring tasks like picking out fixtures and ferreting out the best point of sale system and figuring out what to do about a Web store we've been reaching out to representatives of manufacturers of spinning wheels, carders, and other essential equipment with an eye toward carrying several models when we open. We're also looking to Ashland Bay, a local provider of natural and dyed fibers, to help us fill out our unspun fiber collection.

More news as we have it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cool KickStarter project from local friends...

Local friends are kickstarting a powered redesign of the classic spinning wheel. Good luck Russ and Loretta! Here's the link if you want to check it out. Thanks!

Ordering yarn, location update...

We still don't have our lease agreement in place but we are hopeful. The building owner is in talks with general and lighting contractors to try to firm up an estimate he can live with before he agrees to the terms we've been talking about. We're meeting with him and the lighting contractor this afternoon to discuss their estimate. Hopefully we'll have good news soon...but don't worry, because we've already started the process on a fallback location just in case the downtown property somehow doesn't work out! Stay tuned.

In the meantime, let's talk about yarn! We've spent ten-plus hours over the last two days in meeting with suppliers' representatives looking at product from a number of manufacturers, including: Filatura Di CrosaMadelinetosh, Manos del Uruguay, Rowan, Jade SapphireSweetGeorgiaTahkiZealana. We have a pretty firm order set for a decent selection (see right) of Madelinetosh in two weights...and we're also ordering some of their ultra-cool Unicorn Tails 52-yard mini-skeins! We're also pretty sure about our choices from Manos, which include a couple of lovely colors from the new Franca line (see below).

We will almost certainly be carrying quite a lot of Sweet Georgia, an up-and-coming hand-dyer with limited representation so far in the Portland area. It's beautiful stuff and the sock yarn includes a bit of nylon for improved wear. We really like SweetGeorgia and think it could be pretty popular.

We'll be firming up our orders over the next week or so and will share more information when we have it. Even though we don't have an opening date yet we know that we won't have our full inventory on day one so we're planning a "soft opening" and will be talking about that date as soon as we can possibly pin it down!