End of an era: Shower of Flowers

Shower of Flowers, a Denver yarn landmark for almost 40 years will close its doors in October.

This news is a big shock for Colorado knitters. The place is a fantasy land of color and texture. Every possible yarn you could want or any needle you might need is there.

The store, located on west Colfax is in a rather shoddy part of the miles-long Colfax but it drew crafters far and wide. I remember the building used to be an old gas station and repair shop. Classes were held in the old remodeled service bay.

The new owners have decided to unravel and throw their inventory to the wind. When the old owner sold the store to these new owners they brought their kindness and enthusiasm to the world of fiber. We flocked to their doors in search of just the right yarn and their welcoming greeting.

The old store was more a bastion of intimidation. I’d gone into that store in my 30s and was greeted with disdainful silence. Heaven help you if you were a crocheter, you’d be treated to a sniff of scorn. They were knitters. I’m sure if they opened up they’d have looked down their noses at anyone who knits English style as opposed to Continental.

One of the old weathered crows would follow you around while you shopped, sure that you were there to steal from them or possibly pass judgment on your lack of skill and knitting knowledge. They didn’t want you there in their sanctum of knit and purl.

I’d heard rumors the store was to placate the wife of a rather rich man who wanted to give her something to do with her time and he indulged her passion for yarn, patterns and needles in a big way. There are rumors of several warehouses filled to the brim with yarns unseen for decades.

A few months ago our knit/crochet group did a field trip to the store and it was fun to have friends to discuss the merits of acrylic versus alpaca. Whispers of huge sales floated in the air like fuzzies off the skeins of yarn and we received 20 percent off our orders.

The store made you feel like you belong to a sisterhood of a dying craft. Young people don’t knit, it seems like they’re too busy looking at their devices than to sit and learn from another person the art and craft of fiber arts. I recently took a class from a young person who charged $45 a head to teach bioche knitting. Frustrated at my lack of quickness when it came to German short-tail cast-ons, she told me to look at a YouTube video.

The socialization of knitting conducts getting to know people. You get to know their stories and trials. You’re part of something bigger that spans the centuries, something that was required for survival. Today, it’s part of the world of art because the skill required to complete intricate patterns is indeed artwork.

The pattern books at the back of the store are a fashion lesson and there’s more 90s style sweaters that can’t be saved no matter how expensive the yarn. There’s a library of stitch patterns and pamphlets with handwritten patterns on how to make lace doilies. Expensive books on last minute gifts boast pricey retail numbers when the same can be purchased on Amazon for $5 or less. My guess is soon those books and patterns will be released from their display and offer pattern ideas to the seagulls in a landfill.

Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming sale:
August 1 – 31 20% off store wide
September 1 – 30 30% off store wide
October 1 – 14 40% off store wide

The post on Facebook says that ‘Whatever is left will be sold online and moved to Commerce City.’ I know it’s top heavy with inventory and they didn’t take advantage of online sales to move out product. If they sold yarn that was $15 a skein for $5 a skein they would have come out ahead. But setting up a web business is tough and requires skill and money. It requires someone to manage the site, pack up product, fill orders and ship. There’s not much-fun-with-yarn in that part of the business.

Some SEO magic would have had moved inventory in no time. Email would have helped, too. Every day I get an email from the site, LoveKnitting and they have serious sales going on. Yarn priced to MOVE. I buy from them rather regularly.

The thing is that choosing yarn is a tactile experience. Buying yarn online is advantageous if you already know the brand, color and lot number. We knit because we like the way the yarn feels in our hands and the needles, they have weight and presence to them, too. Knitting is adroitly satisfying.

I think they’ve been hit hard lately – the late spring storm that did so much damage to the west side of town caused problems and a sewage backup in the old building probably uncovered bigger and more expensive issues.

The yarns sitting in the fabled warehouses will soon move from museums status to something else. I don’t know what happens to yarn that’s decades old.

I think it’s harder to run a business these days and I salute them for trying. I appreciate that they tried.

I’m really sad to see this institution go. I will miss the carefully crafted displays of color and the walls of needles hidden in the back room. Needles so special they required an escort to see them.

As with all things yarn-related, we come to the end of the skein.

Time to bind off and say goodbye.

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