We often get asked how long we've been in business and how we got started. Here's my version.
It all started in the fall of 2002, in a small 10x10 booth in a market in downtown Edmonton. At that time, I had been making teddy bears out of old fur coats. They took hours and hours to make, and I loved to sew and knit, and my friend Sheila was big into felting. She made the most beautiful felted bags. We starting selling our handmade items and kept getting asked for consignment. People wanted us to knit them specific items and we couldn't keep up. We thought it might be time to teach them how to make their own. There were lots of people who wanted to learn how to knit or crochet. They just didn't have anyone to teach them!
Soon we started buying more yarns, making samples, and offering workshops. We grew quickly, and in 2004 we moved into a 700 sq ft retail space in the Royal Alex area of Edmonton, which became our home for the next eight years.
At this same time, I was helping to look after my dad, who was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's, and needed to be in a nursing home. It was a very stressful time, and knitting really helped me unwind. River City Yarns became my place to unwind. There was colour and texture and inspiration and creativity, and it was a place for me to socialize with my family and with new friends.
In 2006, my sister Cynthia joined the business. People thought she was crazy to leave her corporate government job to take on a job at a yarn store! But the business was growing very fast, and we were both raised to be entrepreneurs. Retail sales was in our blood. In 2008, in the middle of a recession, we opened up a second store on the south side of Edmonton. This gave us the opportunity to meet even more great customers and continue to build our brand.
Then in 2013, with a rebounding economy and higher than ever real estate costs, we made the decision to consolidate stores, moving both stores into one location. We found a great space in west Edmonton—a store located on a busy street with lots of traffic and visibility, ample customer parking, and more square footage for yarn and workshops.
We are one! Just like there is one IKEA or one Lee Valley in Edmonton, we love that there is just one River City Yarns, and that we can all be under the same roof!