HartBeat of Main Street Grant Program: Center of the Yarniverse


December 22, 2020 | HartBeat of Main Street Grant Program: Center of the Yarniverse |

Left and right: The shop's collection of yarn. Center: A pop-up flower show at the shop. Photo credit: Center of the Yarniverse

Center of the Yarniverse: Ashland, Virginia

Owner: Stacey Williamson

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your small business.
After careers in accounting and education, I wanted to try something completely different. I decided to create a happy place for knitters and crocheters to come for supplies, instruction and social stitching. Center of the Yarniverse is a local yarn shop right next to the train tracks that run through the middle of town.

How has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
One of the biggest changes due to a COVID-19 is no longer being able to hold our weekly sit and stitches in person or have in-person classes. We originally switched to shopping by appointment only and quickly put up an online store (that wasn’t very effective). We are now open, but with a 10-person limit.

How are you using the grant funds, and how will they help your business?
We are using our HartBeat of Main Street Grant money to invest in a new POS system with an integrated website and email marketing. We added a second check out area to assist with social distancing. To reach our customers virtually, I purchased an iPad and lighting for virtual sit and stitch meetings on Zoom, social media, and in virtual classes.

The Grant funds will help Center of the Yarniverse provide a safer environment in-store and provide an opportunity for customers to shop online if they do not want to shop in-person. Having an online presence better than the one we created at the beginning of the pandemic (that integrates with our inventory system) has allowed us to expand our customer base to multiple states and across the country. We are also able to connect with our customers virtually to maintain the sense of community that has been important since we first opened in 2018.

What advice would you give to small business owners who are struggling right now?
I would recommend that other struggling businesses reach out to their local governments and chambers of commerce for possible financial assistance programs. Brainstorming and working with neighboring businesses is a great way to support each other and bring business to their area.

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View more spotlights of the first round of recipients for the HartBeat of Main Street Grant Program.