Here we are in Upland, California, just 45 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles! It is a balmy day as we stand on the doorstep of our latest subject in the shop interview series: Needles & Niceties. If I turn to look behind me, I can see the snow-capped-in-winter San Gabriel mountains. *gazes for a while*
Well, I think it must be quite an adventure inside, so let’s go on in and see what’s waiting for us!
*is immediately greeted by an enthusiastic poodle*
Neighbor Jillian: Hi, sweet one! *pats her* Are your mom and dad around? I am here to interview them for the blog. Ah, here they are!
Neighbor Jillian: *shakes their hands* Thank you so much for letting me visit today! I was going to start out with asking how your shop got started, but first I want to hear more about your shop greeter!
Bob: That is Sophie!
Neighbor Jillian: And how did she come to be in charge here?
Bob: Anna and I have always had a dog in our family. When our very loved Airedale passed away at age 14, we sadly said no more, the loss is too much to go through again.
Neighbor Jillian: *nods* I am sure many pet owners can relate.
Anna: That steadfast stance lasted four years… and crumbled when we first saw Sophie the Standard Poodle at age 4 months. She is now 6 years old, and has come to the shop with us every day.
Bob: A wonderful by-product of having a calm and loving dog in the shop is when customers come in “just to see Sophie”! We enjoy the visits, purchase or not. Sophie is the single most recognizable draw to our shop in town. Who needs advertising expenses when you have Sophie?
Neighbor Jillian: Indeed! Let’s talk about your shop. I am so curious how you guys started, and am especially intrigued because you are a husband and wife team. Let’s find out how all of this came about!
Bob: We met in college, where I got two degrees in Hotel Management, which I did for many years. The job took me to many cities, the final being Ontario, California. While there, we bought a 15,000 square foot Five & Dime store. Anna handled the day-to-day operations of the store, even implementing a special section that was unusual for that type of shop: a needleart section.
Anna: This came in handy later when the stress of Bob’s hotel management job started to really get to him, and I suggested he try cross stitch as a way to relax. His first cross stitching project, a 16 x 14 Linda Meyers harbor scene, may not have been perfect when it was done, but it cemented his interest in this new-to-him hobby. I also took up cross stitch eventually!
Bob: As time went on, we were both ready for something new, so I left my job in hotel management and we closed the Five & Dime shop. Instead, we opened this specialized shop in Upland, California. We are a full line yarn, cross stitch, and needlepoint shop. The yarns that we offer are always of the finest fiber content and in textures and colors that are current with each fashion season.
Anna: Our hand-painted needlepoints range in price from moderate to indulgent one-of-a-kinds. And, of course, the cross stitches we offer follow the same trend, being the hard-to-find limited edition projects.
Bob: From the beginning, we knew that all three crafts involved needles of some shape and size and we only wanted to offer the nicer end of each craft; hence: NEEDLES & NICETIES!
Neighbor Jillian: You have had great success over the last twenty-three years, and I think what I love best about your shop, aside from the delightful displays, is that, though you cater to very experienced crafters, part of your niche is your passion for educating those who are just learning.
Bob: Indeed. Our favorite proposal for newcomers who feel overwhelmed by choices and aren’t sure where to begin? ”Find a project that captures your excitement.”
Neighbor Jillian: Now that we know how your shop came to be, let’s talk about the delightful displays I alluded to earlier because I seriously must take a moment to squee a bit over your display for Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas yarns.
Neighbor Jillian: How adorbs is that?? But… wait… what’s that I see over to the left…? *squints and walks closer to it, then stares back in amazement at Bob and Anna* Is that a…
Anna: A bike? Yep! That is the first time the bike has been used! It hasn’t even been ridden yet. *laughs* It is from Christmas 2012 and is by Neiman Marcus.
Neighbor Jillian: What a cute idea! I also love the chicken coop used as a display shelf for Metalico.
Bob: As an added bit of fun, I found a very old hard cover copy of The Great Gatsby that I’ll be using as a prop in our Metalico display!
Neighbor Jillian: Your enthusiasm for Blue Sky Alpacas yarns and Spud & Chloë yarns is certainly inspiring! How did you guys find out about us and what led you to bring us into your store?
Bob: We were always aware of your yarns through your tasteful advertising in consumer magazines. What sold us on the product and presence of Blue Sky Alpacas was your booth display at a TNNA show in Long Beach, CA several years ago. Sadly, the daily duties of running our shop got in the way and we didn’t find room or time for a new line in our shop.
Anna: But, fast forward four-plus years and here we are, making the commitment for our area!
Bob: So far, the response has been overwhelming!
Neighbor Jillian: We’re so glad that you circled back to bring in our yarns now and that they have been met with such excitement by your customers. Now, going back a bit to how all this came about, I know you both do cross stitch, but I am wondering if you both knit, as well?
Bob: Anna, it seems, has been knitting since the first Ice Age. She also crochets! At age 20 and newly married, she would sit by the pool and crochet a cotton shawl. That was the 70′s…
Anna: For Robert, when it comes to knitting, not so much… But, his claim to fame is teaching a lefty who just walked into the shop how to cast on!
Neighbor Jillian: Very cool! My husband is left-handed and I know that sometimes it can be hard to find instructions or methods for doing activities left-handed! Sadly, it’s almost time for me to go, but I do have one more fun question here for you guys, if you’re willing?
Bob and Anna: Sure!
Neighbor Jillian: Great! If you could be any character from fiction, who would you be?
Bob: It’s a toss-up between Vinnie from My Cousin Vinnie or any Jack Nicholson character.
Anna: Dorothy from Wizard of Oz!
Neighbor Jillian: *laughing* Those are great answers! Gosh, I had such fun talking with you guys! *shakes their hands again* Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to chat with me!
Bob: We do appreciate your efforts in putting something together about Needles & Niceties!