Here I am, back in California for the third subject in our shop interview series! Usually, I like more variety in terms of locations, but I simply could not pass up the timely opportunity to write about this most unusual shop, which has just held its grand opening and may be traveling (you read that right: traveling!) to a town near you.
Readers who are similar in age to me may remember the Bookmobile from our youth, which drove around local neighborhoods, lending books to children. I found many favorite paperbacks as a preteen scouring the Bookmobile’s shelves. Some years later, this idea seemed to have been applied to restaurants, and food trucks began to spring up all over, especially in downtown areas. I worked in Downtown Minneapolis a couple years ago, and at lunch time during the warmer months there were lines nearly a block long to buy food from some of these trucks! Well, buckle your seatbelt, because two intrepid women have taken this idea another step further, creating Yarnover Truck:
Yarnover Truck is your local yarn store on wheels, implementing the food truck business model and applying it to a mobile yarn store. The truck will make appearances at a variety of local events … throughout Southern California. Our goal is not only to sell yarn, but to increase awareness and provide needlearts education, with a focus on knitting and crocheting.
Curious? Me, too. Let’s put the pedal to the metal, and speed on over as quickly as we can so Maridee and Barbra can tell us how this incredible idea came to fruition!
Wait, wait, though. First we should get in the mood… how about Venice Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Southern California (I can see why!)?
Ahhhhhh… Okay, now we’re ready for adventure!
Neighbor Jillian: *knocks on Yarnover Truck door, then steps back a bit* Helloooooo?? Neighbor Jillian here to interview you for the Spud & Chloë blog!
The door pops open, and out come Maridee and Barbra, both waving at me to come on in!
Neighbor Jillian: *mouth agape* Ladies, this is so fantastic! Gosh, I can hardly wait to talk to you about all of this. Let’s start at the beginning with your knitting histories.
Maridee: My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 12 years old. My first project was a set of granny square Christmas stockings that were black and pink instead of red and green! (I was a bit of a rebel, even at age 12.) Then, several years ago, I picked up the craft again and then discovered Ravelry. Oh, the joys of digital pattern downloads!! Through Ravelry I found a knit/crochet group that met near my home and that is how I met Barbra. Since joining the group, I have also learned to knit with their help and have been asked to show some of my coworkers how to do it.
Barbra: I taught myself to knit 11 years ago. Knitting had always been around while I was growing up, as my grandmother was an avid knitter. Although my grandmother is no longer with us, I am sure she is watching to make sure I don’t drop too many stitches.
Neighbor Jillian: Now we know how you met! And, while your story is all over your website and Ravelry group, I’m hoping you can go into more detail about how all this came about or perhaps share any other neat inside details?
Maridee: The idea came about because I was thinking about opening a yarn store. I had come up with a great name for the shop if I could find a spot in Hollywood to have it: Yarn Over Hollywood! I thought it would be great to decorate the shop using many of the photos of actresses knitting while on set. I mentioned my idea to Barbra because I knew she was already working with many LYS’s in our area, helping them with their social media. Barbra mentioned to her knitting group at work that I was looking into opening a store and one of them suggested we use a truck. Well, Barbra then went searching on Google to explore other mobile retail trucks and sent me a very long email, and later that day we went to a little truck event to see one of the local retail trucks. That night, we became business partners and decided Yarn Over Hollywood would become Yarnover Truck. (We decided to make “yarn over” into one word because it looked better in our logo design!)
Neighbor Jillian: Well, I just got chills because that is such a cool story of how your partnership developed. Now that you knew you were going to have a truck, where did you find one to turn into Yarnover Truck and how did the renovations go?
Barbra: We found our truck on Craig’s List! She was a former Little Debbie delivery truck, and before that transported uniform laundry. We were very lucky in getting the truck renovated, as one of my brothers works in construction and did all the renovations for us! My other brother (they are twins) designed our logo and truck wrap. We like keeping it all in the family.
Neighbor Jillian: That is so cool. I would imagine the truck itself is like family now, too. Does she have a name?
Maridee: We LOVE that she was a Little Debbie delivery truck, and have eaten way too many Swiss Rolls in celebration, so we named her Debbie in honor of her past life!
Neighbor Jillian: So cute! Tell me about the launch party!
Barbra: The launch party was held in a park near where we both live, just behind the studio where “The Tonight Show” used to be filmed in Burbank, California. We sold tickets initially through our Indiegogo Campaign for those who wanted to be the “first” to see and shop in the truck. Then, once that campaign ended, we continued to sell tickets and in the end sold close to 100 of them! We had many of our friends and supporters there, plus people we had never met come and cheer us on. Everyone loved the truck and we received many compliments on her design and inventory of great yarns that we chose to sell!
Maridee: The afternoon was a resounding success and many people spent several hours with us in the park knitting and crocheting with new and old friends. We had a great gift bag for all who came, fun drawings throughout the afternoon, and light food and drinks—including Little Debbie snacks in honor of our truck! There are a bunch of photos from the event up on our Facebook page and more continue to get posted as the days pass. We keep getting messages from people who came and just had a wonderful time. It was a great way for us to launch our business!
Neighbor Jillian: It sounds like a fun time was had by all, especially these ladies, who got Yarnover Makeovers!
Neighbor Jillian: We’ve covered how Yarnover Truck came to be, but what exactly is inside it? Obviously, it carries yarn, including our very own Spud & Chloë, but do you sell knitting needles and other implements so that if someone wants to buy yarn but didn’t bring items to start working right away you have them covered?
Barbra: Yes, we carry knitting needles and crochet hooks. Even though space is limited and we are not carrying a very big variety, if someone does fall in love with a wonderful yarn and wants to start a project immediately, we have the tools to help them do just that! We also believe that at some of the larger community events and festivals, we will have people coming to the truck who have never knitted or crocheted anything before. We will be their first exposure to these wonderful crafts and we want to help them get started right away and hopefully fall in love with it like we both have!
Neighbor Jillian: Excellent! It sounds like you ladies have thought of everything. How did you decide to bring Spud & Chloë onboard as part of your stock?
Maridee: We have both used Spud & Chloe for several projects and really fell in love with the yarn. For me, I have to admit that, as a crocheter, yarn that is fine intimidates me a bit, but Spud & Chloë Fine has become one of my favorites! I love that the pieces I have made are easy to care for. That is very important to me!
Neighbor Jillian: Spud & Chloë Fine is one of my favorites also! Earlier you touched a bit on going to larger community events and festivals, and I noticed you have put a handy calendar up on your site so shoppers know where to find you! Can you talk more about your plans for where people can find Yarnover Truck in the coming months?
Maridee: We had created a list of events we felt we should check out when we were writing up our business plan, but since our launch and article in the Los Angeles Times, many people have reached out to us with suggestions for places to visit and events to attend. We are going through that very LONG list right now and will be mapping out our plans for the next several months.
Neighbor Jillian: I know that you have stated that you plan to go up and down the coast of Southern California, but is there any chance you would take Yarnover Truck on the road for a true roadtrip? Saaaaaaaaay, to Minnesota, which is the location of Spud & Chloë World Headquarters?
Barbra: Maridee is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota so you are not the first to ask this question!! We have requests to bring the truck all over the country. While nothing is set yet, we might consider a road trip or two—we just need to work out the logistics (and hope that the price of gas stays where it is or gets lower!).
Neighbor Jillian: So, we know where Debbie will go, but now the question is… who gets to drive??
Maridee: We both drive Debbie, and the other follows in their car filled with back-up stock and supplies. There is only so much we can fit on Debbie
Neighbor Jillian: It is a bit of a yarn caravan while you are on the road! I know you ladies are so busy and I am so grateful for all the time you spent with me today. I’ll let you go, but first I have a fun question to close with: If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
Barbra: I would be any of the companions from Doctor Who—I am a big Doctor Who nerd!
Maridee: I would like to be Elizabeth Bennet. I have always loved Jane Austen, and I think Elizabeth is a very interesting character with lots of layers.
Neighbor Jillian: Great answers! Thank you so much for your time ladies, we appreciate it! We here at Spud & Chloë are so excited about your venture and wish you the very best as you set out.
As the sun sets, I exit Yarnover Truck and come back to reality. Leaving California behind, I daydream of yarn and beaches…
Follow Yarnover Truck (figuratively, not literally!) by going to their website, liking their Facebook page, finding them on Twitter, signing up for their mailing list, or joining their group on Ravelry!
If you own or visit a local yarn shop that is doing fun activities with Spud & Chloë yarns, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking for more stores to interview!