Nova Scotia

Dominion woman having a ball with rolling yarn shop

A new business in Cape Breton is taking a page from food trucks by rolling itself from town to town. Tracy Stubbard said her mobile yarn shop will bring high-end products to a tight-knit community of fibre artists.

'Buying online is easy to do, but it's not as fun,' says Tracy Stubbard

Tracy Stubbard is shown in front of her mobile yarn shop that she plans to bring around the island later this year. (Erin Pottie/CBC)

A new business in Cape Breton is taking a page from food trucks by rolling itself from town to town.

Tracy Stubbard said her mobile yarn shop will bring high-end products to a tight-knit community of fibre artists.

"A lot of people think it's a wonderful thing," said Stubbard, a self-professed "yarn snob" whose truck and trailer deliver a variety of yarns from wool, merino, alpaca, cashmere and silk.

The inspiration behind the travelling shop was simple: the Dominion woman wanted to reach as many customers as possible in their own communities. 

"You know, some people say you need to squish and feel yarn and smell yarn to buy it," said Stubbard. "Buying online is easy to do, but it's not as fun."

Stubbard says knitting and crocheting has become a favourite pastime throughout the pandemic. (Erin Pottie/CBC)

In her experience, Stubbard said many of the people who are knitting and crocheting span generations. 

The demand for yarn during the COVID-19 pandemic has made re-stocking products more difficult. A good portion of the fibres she sells come from independent retailers and are hand-dyed. 

"Since the pandemic hit, it's taken off like crazy," said Stubbard. "I'm trying to get yarn from some suppliers and they are backlogged six to eight weeks."

'A happy thing'

Stubbard was hoping to open up her travelling shop last summer when she received her second cancer diagnosis in three years. She is now receiving radiation after already undergoing chemotherapy. 

The shop has been a positive distraction from her health concerns.

"It gives me something to look forward to. It's a happy thing," said Stubbard. "Everybody's happy when they come to the yarn shop."

Stubbard's mobile shop offers high-end products including merino, silk and cashmere. (Erin Pottie/CBC)

Stubbard said she's received a lot of help over the past year from her family, including her mother and stepfather. 

Another major catalyst in getting the shop off the ground was the owner of her favourite yarn shop in Baddeck, where Stubbard used to work.

When her former boss at Baadeck Yarns decided to close shop and retire, Stubbard purchased stock from the store.

Rolling along

Stubbard's business is expected to begin travelling sometime this spring. 

There are plans to visit communities across Cape Breton and as far away as Antigonish — approximately 200 kilometres from Stubbard's home in Dominion. 

"Once I get rolling, once the weather gets a whole lot warmer, I think it will be great because then I can bring the yarn to them," she said.

 

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