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November 28, 2018 4 min read 8 Comments

It’s been a little while since I last wrote a Blog post. The shop has been very very busy, and I literally haven’t had time – which is a really really great reason for not being able to write :-)

So what's new...

I did this whole Instagram Giveaway thing last week to celebrate Tribe’s 3 Month Anniversary and to thank all of our lovely customers and community for their unbelievable support.

I’ll just say it again now - I know you know that little new businesses like this just can’t survive without people like you! Thank you so much for trusting us with your hard earned cash, and your precious, precious time!

It’s a huge privilege to be able to sneak some funds out of the Budget and use t
hem for Giveaways and to hand out free Thank You stuff. It makes me very happy.

This Giveaway of mine was also designed to attract more Instagram followers, since Insta has played such a big role in getting the brand and shop known. 

And also to find out just what items you guys would buy from the shop if money was no object. It was fascinating!! Just about every item in the shop was wished for at least once, including the baby yarn!!

Thank you so much for all of you who took part, and HUGE congrats to the winners! (@soccermomknits, @sammichstitches & @victoriaiesha)

But for every Up there must be a Down…

 …and one side-effect of running this little “competition” that I hadn’t anticipated was the decrease in online sales for the duration of the Giveaway. It does make a lot of sense, when you think about it – people were waiting to see if they had won before buying stuff. But it didn’t half freak me out!

So, come Black Friday, there I was, expecting the online orders to come a-rolling back in from all those hopefuls who didn’t get their names pulled. Didn’t happen. The whole Black weekend was a bit of a washout, actually. Our quietest weekend ever since we opened. How?? It’s late November. It’s definitely sweater weather. Pre-Crimbo gift buying season. And I’m giving away brand-new Tribe Pins as consolation prizes. So what gives?

I contacted a handful of other small yarn shops and other independent retailers and they all reported the same thing. Turns out Black Friday hurts many small businesses.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with competition, even Big competition. Variety is the spice and all that. And there’s a place and time for Amazon, for sure. There aren’t many small independents trying to compete for sales of TV’s or ice scrapers or bra extenders. Sometimes it’s just better to buy online and save some moolah.

But there are some items that are better bought from small, independents. Consider yarn as a case in point. And think about how the cheap, big online web-sellers might affect the future of your Local Yarn Shops. You know the type of websellers I’m talking about – continuous SALES, Discounts and Offers up the yin-yan. Massive inventory, super low margins, don’t really care where it all comes from.

These websites are more often than not backed by VC’s or equity funders who are much more driven by their ROI% than a deep love for the yarn industry.

In fact, the long term plan for many of these companies is to sell at such low prices (sometimes even at a loss) that eventually no-one will buy from small yarn stores with their higher prices
  => little shops go out of business, and when they are the last man standing
  => they raise their prices back up again and live happily ever after.

I just want to highlight this fact. And it’s not just in the yarn industry where this happens.

I know I would be really sad to see a world with no Local Yarn Shops. Or no small, local jeweler, baker, tailor…. It would be sad.

I love this quote by Anna Lappe. It reminds me spend to more consciously.

This might really mean valuing quality over quantity. Consuming less because it costs more. And really considering what the true value of things are, and why they cost what they do.

It’s not ok for a chicken to cost £1.40. That’s not ok!! I could go off on one here and write a whole thing about the impact of selling a chicken for that price...

Same as it’s not ok for a T-Shirt to cost £1.40 in Primark. Yes, you can buy 10 of them and chuck them out when they look tatty. But that’s not ok either.

A skein of hand-dyed yarn might cost £24. But think about everything that has had to happen to get that yarn into the Yarn Shop to sell for £24.


I love living in a world where we have so much choice and variety. But if we want it to stay this way, we it’s up to us to be more conscious in the way we buy and consume.

I know that Black Friday hurt our sales because people have finite budgets, and Black Friday weekend is the perfect time to spend their hard-earned cash on stuff that’s heavily discounted by the big boys. Definitely. I guess what I’m saying is that if  it’s possible for you to get that thing from a small business, and it’s a better thing, then maybe think about doing that sometimes too.

In the lead up to Black Friday, Tribe also took part in the @justacard Indie Week campaign to highlight and promote small, independent businesses.

I really enjoyed browsing the #justacard hashtag on Instagram last week and discovering so much talent in the indie shop space in this country! It was a beautiful way for me to procrastinate and make little Christmas purchases for my loved ones. I’d recommend it as a way to find more indies! 

“The JUST A CARD campaign aims to encourage people to buy from Designer/Makers and Independent Galleries and Shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, even 'just a card' are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses.”

And if you still need convincing, read this article for Forbes 43 Reasons Why You Should Support Small & Independent Businesses:

Right, I’ll climb back down from my soapbox now.

Happy Shopping, ya’ll!

8 Responses

April 17, 2024

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Ann Warner
Ann Warner

December 21, 2018

This was so interesting to read, thankyou, I’ve only just found your website because I was googling for Shibui yarns and your name came up. I always prefer to buy from independent yarn shops and indie sewing patterns. I feel one way people could support their local businesses is to use independent coffee shops instead of these huge major coffee places that seem to be everywhere.


November 30, 2018

So true Milli. Xx


November 29, 2018

Hi, Milli, you are so completely right with this!
I am not quite sure if I am allowed to comment this a foreign person – but the problem is an international one.
We had our “Black Friday” events (or even the “Cyber Week”) as well and I appreciate your thoughts so much.
In my little world I am calculating quite simple: consumers can only spend their income once – and therefore I suppose that the big deals on Black Friday do not lead to increased sales as a whole. It only serves to absorb sales volumes by these usual suspects (you described this so precisely!).

How to solve this problem?
The only way is exactly what you started: sharpen the awareness for every step we go in consuming goods.
I discussed this problem the other day with an optician, this profession is also in competition with the www, although it is not only simply buying glasses frames online to get a satisfying result.
A related subject: Years ago I started to ask for the manufacturing country when buying goods (triggered by regarding human rights in China).
As a European citizen I decided to prefer goods that are produced in a European country (Britain is included in my definition, by the way!). Not that easy to get answers!

Kind regards Ulrike, wishing you busy days during the next weeks!

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