Mrs Johnson’s First Blog

I’ve wanted to write a blog since I took over our family wool and haberdashery emporium. I’ve wanted to talk about my journey learning all the things I’ve had to learn, my journey trying to improve things, and also share the fun we have working here, doing this. But, it’s so easy to put things off isn’t it, especially when you seem to run through every day trying to get anywhere near the bottom of your in-tray. So it’s just not happened until now, but now, launching our new website has given me the sharp nudge I needed to set down my pearls of wisdom. ;-))

A bit of history first, only a bit, don’t collapse …

George Johnson, my dad, had a wool shop in Accrington from early 1972 up to 1981. He moved the family over to the bright lights of Blackpool and had a stall in Abingdon Street Market in the town centre. In 1974 he managed to get his first shop in South Shore at 12 Waterloo Road. Dad bought the huge and beautiful building on Bond Street where we still are in 1984, over 30 years ago! The plan was for it to be a market of 9 shops, but now we have it filled with luscious wool and pretty haberdashery. So we’re at least 43 years old!

Dad in front of his shop
Dad in front of his shop

Dad was quite a leading light in the wool retail industry. He was invited by the wool producers to visit their mills and the exhibitions they attended. He had his own wool brand ‘Uknit’ registered well before the digital lingo began using the ‘u’ instead of you, how trendy and foresighted, he had lots of products produced by big manufacturers under the Johnson’s name.

Dad's Branded Wool Uknit
Dad’s Branded Wool Uknit

I came into the business to help dad run it when he fell ill, and still had no intention of quitting my career in education to run it fully, even after he died. But I soon fell in love with: the customers, who are so much nicer than the average population; with the luscious wool and pretty haberdashery and all the things you can do with them; with the High Street small business retail industry, which is really struggling and needs help; with South Shore, which has been woefully neglected for at least a decade and has changed from being a much sought after location to a near derelict area; and with Blackpool, which should still be a jewel in the crown for Britain. If you cross the golden sands when the tide’s out and look back at Blackpool, you’ll see why it should be treasured, it is incredible, there’s nowhere like it anywhere in the world. There are fabulous things to see and do in Blackpool all the time, fresh air and fun is still on the menu. I had had nothing to do with the shop when dad ran it, and so had a really steep learning curve. I had to learn to knit, to crochet, to sew on a sewing machine, to do appliqué, to cross stitch and loads more crafty things as well as how to run a shop. I didn’t even know what the names of the wool meant: double knitting, Aran, Chunky, super chunky, mega chunky, 2 ply, 3 ply and 4 ply or how open-ended, concealed and jean zips were different from ‘normal’ zips.

We’ve undertaken a huge renovation project to return the beautiful building to its past beauty, and to beautify the wool and haberdashery presentation and increase the stock range. We’ve had loads and loads of praise from our fabulous, lovely customers and people are coming from far and wide to enjoy shopping for their wonderful hobby. Also because of our hard work we’ve been nominated, by our fabulous, lovely customers for an award: Best Independent Knitting Store in the North of England, in the British Knitting Awards.

We’re thrilled, we didn’t put ourselves in for this, it was all our customers’ doing. There are only 5 stores nominated. You can vote right up to the 6th of September at:

www.letsknit.co.uk/britishknittingawards NB In categories you don’t want to vote just click on ‘other’ and type N/A in the box.

We’re so excited, we’d so love to win, we’re already dieting for the awards ceremony!