Angele and Marc Francoeur have some interesting yarns to share about their new business. But they aren’t about to pull the wool over the eyes of local artisans. In fact, they are trying to build a close-knit community for fibre artists to enjoy.
The local couple opened their new business, The Northern Purl, on July 2 in the lower level of the 101 Mall. The specialty store provides wool and yarn for fibre artists, from spinners to knitters and much, much more.
The Francoeurs believe there is a place in the local market for a specialty store, particularly after the recent closures of Yarns and Such and crafting retail giant Michael’s.
“We saw the need for a yarn store in Timmins and decided to just go for it,” she explained.
“I’ve been playing with fibres for the past 20 years. I’m an avid spinner. I like to make my own wool and playing with the different textures, different wools.”
Spinners, weavers and other fibre artists will like the variety of supplies available.
“We have yarns, weaving cottons and we have lots of different fibres to spin or to felt,” Angele said. “We have lots of different wools, knitting needles, notions, a little bit of everything for the fibre artist.”
Unlike chain stores, The Northern Purl offers handmade quality items. Products with the NP label in their store have been hand spun and dyed. The Northern Purl has batts and roving for fibre artists. They also go another step and make their own yarns. And are they ever soft.
“We are a specialty store,” Marc said. “Walmart doesn’t offer anything for spinners or weavers, as far as supplies or the equipment itself. We will be offering some equipment for sale. Right now, they can order through us, weaving looms, spindles, all the supplies for it.
“Walmart will have yarn and knitting needles and that’s it. We have other aspects of the fibre craft.”
There are even some finished items, such as socks, for sale. Hand dyed and made yarns used to produce hand-knit socks.
The couple isn’t just relying on foot traffic for sales. They have a website ready, and will soon be taking online orders.
“We’re going to do both online and in store,” Angele said. “Then people from Timmins can order online or have the option of coming in, that way they can touch and feel the fibres. You can order something online but you can’t feel it.
“It (online) is all developed. It is just setting a date to put it online and taking orders. We’re using Shopify, so any inventory we’re putting into the system is ready for both (store and online).”
Angele also hopes her own experience as a fibre artist will provide customers with advice and information as needed.
“I focus on all the crafts. I work on a little bit of everything,” she said. “I’m hoping to have a stitch ‘n’ bitch, then they can gather here and help each other out, share different ideas and patterns.
“I want to build a community and have a community.”
The Francoeurs said they have had a good response from the community so far.
“The reaction has been positive,” Angele said. “I understand it’s summer and most people are fall spinners. We’ve had very good feedback on Facebook as well.”
The Northern Purl is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the 101 Mall in Downtown Timmins. The Northern Purl can be found on Facebook and online at www.thenorthernpurl.ca .