Sat in a packed shop, at 54 Front Street, the team at Ready Steady Knit were chatting to customers and asking an interesting question – ‘Where have you travelled from today?’
We spoke to owner Pauline Edwards to find out how she’s managed to turn a traditional local staple into a regional retail destination.
PB: How long has Ready Steady Knit been on Front Street?
PE: We have been in our current premises at 54 Front Street since 2020. Although the business first opened in 2012 down the side street at 17b, we relocated here and opened on January 2, 2020 and closed again a matter of weeks later, thanks to the first lockdown, on March 23.
PB: There aren’t many wool or knitting shops around any more, does that bring in people from outside of Prudhoe?
PE: Specialist knitting shops are very few and far between these days. Although there are discount shops locally selling cheaper yarns, and wool is widely available online, neither of those channels are able to offer the advice and expertise that we can here in the shop.
We’ve been asking customers where they have travelled from, and have found that people are prepared to travel to Prudhoe to visit our shop from all over the North East.
We also get customers from other parts of the country and even the world when visiting family or on holiday in Northumberland.
Having customers come into the shop not knowing the local area, we get chatting to them, ask them what else they plan to do while they’re in town, and recommend other local places they can visit.
PB: It sounds like promoting other Prudhoe businesses is important to you?
PE: We definitely like to encourage customers to visit other shops on Front Street, and often recommend places to eat and drink if customers have visited from a distance. It is very important to us to spread the word about what a great place Prudhoe is.
PB: There have been a few resurgences in knitting over the last few years after celebrities have taken it up, does that change the demographic of your customers?
PE: Yes I think celebrities knitting on social media has certainly encouraged younger people to try the craft, but the role of how-to videos on YouTube is also very important, too.
PB: You also provide knitting patterns, kits, and run knitting groups – how important has it been for you to add to your products and services over the years?
PE: Fortunately we have very good support from the wholesale yarn suppliers we buy from, they have research and marketing teams that are able to keep up with current fashions and trends so knitting is not just old fashioned clothes made by old ladies! We have new ranges of patterns and yarns nearly every week and regularly have a ‘new yarn alert’ on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Prior to Covid we had a busy programme of classes and workshops which we are slowly reintroducing and it’s been great being able to get together with the groups again.