WHMI 93.5 Local News : Howell Woman Knits Together 30 Years Of Success
By Jon King / [email protected] will mark 30 years since Charlene Hatfield first opened up her knitting shop, Stitch In Time, in Downtown Howell and says it has been her loyal customers that have sustained through the economic ups and downs of the last three decades.Hatfield says she first took up knitting in the late 1980s at a shop in Brighton, and when it closed two years later she was so into the hobby she asked her husband if she could use the money they had gained from a house sale to open up her own shop. Despite his initial reluctance, she opened up Stitch In Time next to the old Sefa's Market off of Grand River at Fowler Street. Her first day in business was May 1st, 1991. Five years later, she and her husband had an opportunity to buy their current location at 722 E. Grand River, which she says they stripped down to the studs and then remodeled with an apartment upstairs, where they live. Hatfield says the biggest change in her store over the years has been largely eliminating cross-stitch supplies, which she said was pretty much equal in sales when she opened. Eventually, however, yarn for knitting became her primary product, and she takes pride in her wide and varied inventory. "Lots of different suppliers. Indie dyers that sometimes that's their second job, they dye yarns special. I have a big company, Malabrigo, that dyes yarn special for me that is Howell Melon color for the Melon Festival. I’m the only shop anywhere that you can get that. I have some yarn that has mink in it. I have some yarn that has cashmere, yak, silk..."When asked what has been the secret of her success through the years, Hatfield didn't hesitate to say it was her customers. "Really, the best customers that are more like friends than customers. That's one of the nice things about being a small business is that you really get to know people and they’re very loyal and they’re great at word of mouth advertising for me. Yeah, great customers."She also says if there's one thing she’d like people to know, it's that they may have a completely outdated idea about knitting. "I think one of the things, just in knitting in general, a lot of people think; ‘knitting, old lady, ugly things’ and that is not what it is. There are so many wonderful, beautiful yarns that are so enjoyable to work with and there's beautiful patterns that are just gorgeous. So I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions about knitting."To help celebrate her 30th anniversary, Charlene says she’ll be giving away thirty $30 gift certificates, starting Saturday and over the next week, along with yarn giveaways and a drawing for a northern Michigan bed and breakfast getaway.Hatfield hopes for many more years of success, knowing that she has been very fortunate to get this far. "I appreciate my customers so much and really grateful they helped me make 30 years. Very, very blessed."