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Business Roundup: New yarn store bursts with colors and textures

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Cody Lillian, owner of K1P2 Yarn shop in Wenatchee.

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New yarn store bursts with colors and textures

WENATCHEE — The instruction “knit one, purl two” is so basic to knitting that Cody Lillian couldn’t resist choosing it as the name of her new yarn shop.

I figure that if a person knits,” said Lillian, owner of K1P2 Yarn, “they’ll never forget the store’s name.”

Opened in January, K1P2 (knit one, purl 2) Yarn bursts with color from wall displays filled with thousands of skeins of yarn surrounded by shelves loaded with sample projects, knitting tools, crochet supplies and pattern and instruction books.

The store fills the rooms of what was once a residence, treating customers to a comfortable interior complete with easy chairs, hardwood floors, area rugs, two welcome dogs — Katie, a Yorkshire terrier, and Joe, a Yorkie-Shih Tzu mix — and Lillian’s own brand of attentive, but relaxed, customer service.

I like to be there to answer questions and make suggestions, but never give the hard sell,” said Lillian. “Experienced knitters pretty much know what they want and like to wander through the store. Novices only need to ask if they need advice.”

Lillian, 55, is an experienced businesswoman who’s owned several local enterprises. In 1991, she opened The Back Porch, an art, antiques and gift store in downtown Wenatchee, and seven years later sold the business to open Flamingo’s, a beauty salon.

But in 2011, Lillian emerged from a battle with cancer with a yearning to get out of the house and “get back into the world.” First stop? A visit to a yarn store.

I knew how to knit, and up until then had made a few sweaters,” she said. “But I was by no means a fanatic or expert. I just felt, well, called to pick it up again.”

Lillian drove to Warehouse Woolery, a yarn store near the railroad tracks in Chelan Falls, and learned the business was set to close a few days later. After much discussion with her husband — “First thing he said was ‘absolutely not!’” she said — they decided to buy the place.

That purchase launched Lillian’s career in yarn. After a cold winter in the warehouse, Lillian moved Warehouse Woolery to a warmer location in downtown Chelan and, three years later, sold the store. It now goes by the name of Twisted Fine Yarn and Wool.

And only a month after the sale of her Chelan store, Lillian opened K1P2 in Wenatchee in January. “THAT was a busy month,” she said. “I was meeting with sales reps on Christmas Eve and inventory was starting to pile up.”

Now, the store is “going gangbusters,” said Lillian. Hot sellers include wool yarns from Peru, linen yarns from Turkey and ChiaoGoo brand knitting needles and crochet supplies. She’s begun regular classes — how to knit skirts, scarves and make felted flip-flops — and in October will host a weekend knitting retreat at a resort in Conconully. On Thursday nights, Lillian keeps her store open till 7 p.m. for “knitters to come in, hang out, be social and talk about knitting and everything else.”

The work of running yarn stores “has given me a wonderful reason to get up in the morning,” said Lillian. “All these colors, all these textures, all the wonderful customers — they fill my soul.”

She gave a hearty laugh. “Quite simply, I love coming to work every morning.”

Details: K1P2 Yarn, 1012 Springwater Ave., Wenatchee. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, until 7 p.m. Thursdays for knitters’ gathering. Phone: 888-0337. Web: k1p2yarn.com, and on Facebook.

Summer heat affects crop outlooks

SPOKANE — Executives at Northwest Farm Credit Services in Spokane say this summer’s extreme heat is cooking up some serious concerns for crop yields and quality.

Wheat, apple and cherry crops face the most significant hurdles,” said a recent NFCS press release, “followed by potatoes, sugar beets and hay.” Wine grapes tend to be more drought tolerant and less affected.

Some details from NFCS’s most recent report on area ag markets:

Wheat — Harvest was expected to begin two weeks earlier than normal, with drought reducing yields in most areas. Strong wheat supplies around the world will dampen the likelihood of any big price increases. Even worse, wheat prices in many areas could be below most producers’ break-even points.

Apples — Profit margins are likely to drop for the huge 2014-15 crop. The bad news: Reduced shipments and low prices for most varieties mean many growers won’t be profitable. The good news: Growers with a high concentration of modern apple varieties (think Honeycrisp) should remain profitable. A smaller crop estimated for 2015-16 is a good thing, but sustained summer heat could adversely affect crop quality.

Cherries — The cherry industry was on a rollercoaster ride as profitability varied widely due to rain (early in the season) followed by 100-degree temperatures. Strong prices meant that growers with high volumes and ample shipments should have done well, but those same strong prices might not have helped those hurt by rain and heat. Another concern: Extreme heat may have hurt trees in ways that will affect future harvests.

Wine/vineyards — Overall, the wine grape situation has looked positive. In fact, Northwest grape growers could produce a bumper crop this year. Across the state, acreage planted in grapes is up, and that will help offset any early-season damage by hail and freezing temperatures. Plus, wine sales continue to grow nationwide as employment numbers improve and gas prices remain relatively stable.

Page turns (again) for bookstore

WENATCHEE — AnaMaree Ordway, who bought the Wenatchee Book Co. on June 1., has kept the shelves packed with interesting titles in all genres.

She purchased the store from Olin Ensley and Kya Rush, who had owned the place (formerly Amanda’s Bookstore) only a couple of months.

For me, it was a spur of the moment purchase,” said Ordway. “I saw the ‘for sale’ ad on their Facebook page on Friday, bought the store on Sunday and was in here working on Monday and Tuesday.”

Ordway laughed. “It was one of those things that fell in my lap.”

She’d done lots of retail in previous jobs, said Ordway, but didn’t have much experience at owning her own business or running a bookstore. But she did once work for the now-defunct Wenatchee News Agency, the wholesale magazine and book distributor that served North Central Washington for years.

The store continues to feature thousands of used books. Mystery fans will be particularly pleased with the selection (previous owners boosted the inventory), and parents and kids will find quirky and fun titles in the hefty children’s section.

This summer, Ordway’s young granddaughter, Payton, also plays a role in operating the store. She’s a greeter to customers, but also constructs colorful Book Buddies, bookmarks made of craft sticks, decorative tapes and Sharpies.

Details: Wenatchee Book Co., 11 Palouse St., Wenatchee. Phone: 888-6306. Web: Facebook.com/wenatcheebookco/.

Eastside DQ closes; Carl’s Jr. now on order

EAST WENATCHEE — Bye-bye creamy Oreo Cookie Blizzards. Hello half-pound Thickburgers.

After 38 years in business, the East Wenatchee Dairy Queen shut its doors Monday and began removing DQ signs in preparation for a new fast-food franchise, Carl’s Jr.

Owner Scott Smith, who opened the eastside restaurant in 1977, said he’s retiring after nearly four decades of serving up deluxe cheeseburgers, crispy chicken wraps and DQ’s famous ice cream treats — shakes, cones, sundaes, Blizzards and specialties such as fudge-stuffed chocolate chip cookies topped with gobs of whipped cream.

It’s just time to make the change,” said Smith. “We’ve been fortunate to have been supported by thousands of Wenatchee Valley residents, and many of them became steady customers and good friends. So, sure, we’ve got mixed emotions about closing the store.”

The closure comes at a high point for the business, said Smith. Like many restaurants, DQ’s business dropped during the recession years — “We did OK, but not great,” he said — but he and the restaurant’s 40 employees “hung in there and worked our way through the tough times.”

But this year and last, the restaurant’s sales have picked up pace “and are coming on strong,” said Smith. “I’m getting out on a high note.”

Smith will lease the DQ space to Carl’s Jr. franchise-owner Paul Jones, a 36-year-old businessman based in Ellensburg. Jones owns Carl’s Jr. franchises in Moses Lake, Ellensburg, Yakima and Tri-Cities.

Jones takes possession of the property on Aug. 1 and plans an extensive renovation, said Smith. Opening date for the Carl’s Jr. hasn’t been released.

The fast-food franchise Carl’s Jr. has 1,385 restaurants in 13 western states and 22 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Russia, Japan and China. In 1997, Carl’s Jr. bought the Hardee’s chain (nearly 2,000 locations in 27 eastern states) and the two companies are slowly integrating menus and operations.

Tails wag over plans to promote pet tourism in downtown Wenatchee

WENATCHEE — Downtown Wenatchee is going to the dogs.

Business leaders say they’re barking up the right tree in promoting pet tourism — one of the nation’s hottest travel trends — and have unleashed plans to keep pets hydrated and even elect a favorite pooch politician.

Our friends in Chelan and Leavenworth have embraced this trend, so we thought we’d see if there was any interest among downtown businesses,” said Linda Haglund, executive director for the Wenatchee Downtown Association. “People seem excited.”

Tails are wagging, she said, for a plan to buy and install pet-watering bowls outside downtown businesses. So far, nine businesses had pricked up their ears last month at the idea and agreed to host a bowl and keep it filled.

Another eight businesses sniffed around the idea of “pet hitches” — a hook on which to loop a leash — at outdoor seating areas scattered through downtown. People would be able to tie up their dogs or pot-bellied pigs (or whatever pet they’ve taken for a walk) while sipping coffee or having lunch.

The WDA hoped to buy a batch of bowls in a uniform design that signals pet owners that these are downtown-approved drinking dishes.

These are simple and low-cost ideas that will make downtown much more pet friendly and inviting,” said Haglund. “Nothing elaborate, but important to pet owners.”

Then beginning Aug. 1 — during the dog days of summer — the WDA began hosting a fundraiser called “A Mayor’s Tail,” a canine contest to choose a top dog as the city’s doggy mayor. The winner will be announced and paraded several blocks during downtown’s 14th annual Taste of the Harvest Festival on Sept. 19.

The fundraiser works like this: Dog owners can “file for candidacy” Aug. 1 to 15 by filling out a registration form and paying the $10 registration fee. Then from Aug. 16 to Sept. 18 anyone can vote as often as they wish for their favorite pooch to be mayor. Votes cost $1. Proceeds will go to the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society.

This is a great way to promote pet tourism and lighten up what’s sure to be a serious election season,” said Haglund. “It’s a way to bring something fun to the downtown area.”

For more details on “A Mayor’s Tail” contest, visit wendowntown.org.