Saturday, November 27, 2010

Back to the five and dime...well, almost

Jimmy Beans window

They call the East Bay of San Francisco "the nickel-dime" for its 510 area code. Just a few hours to the East, and a few thousand feet up, you're in the 530 area code, which the Reno-based Jimmy Beans Wool calls home. I was staying with friends at Lake Tahoe for the Thanksgiving holiday, so of course I paid them a visit in between drop-offs and pick-ups at the Reno airport, thinking of "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" the whole time...

I've never needed an excuse to go to a yarn shop, of course, but I had a good one for visiting JBW in person: Several months ago, I was the grateful recipient of a "Beans for Brains" scholarship sponsored by Vogue Knitting and Jimmy Beans Wool. It was so great to be able to say thanks in person to some of the people who made it possible--although the weekend's very heavy snowfall made it impossible for at least one important person, proprietor Laura Zander, to make it in to the shop that day! The photo above really doesn't do it justice; we encountered white-out conditions on the highway, and I'm kind of amazed that flights were taking off and landing at all that day. (I should note that this picture was taken from INSIDE the cozy, yarn-filled shop and flipped. It was too dang cold to be standing outside with the camera.) It also doesn't do the store justice--"Endless possibilities" is right. Although it's no more than a few hundred square feet, the retail space is a real wonderland of tempting yarns, with an inviting sitting area next to the shelves of books and magazines. And then behind it, and filling another huge space two doors down, there's the whoa-inducing stock from which their vigorous online and mail-order business draws. Holy smokes, that's a lot of yarn.

Jimmy Beans back room

The lovely Bethany, who was giving me a tour of the operation, was very patient with me while I geeked out and asked all kinds of questions about the organizational scheme for their backstock. (Sorry, Bethany; the librarian training just kicks in and takes over at times like these.) I spent a pleasant, but not nearly long-enough, interval browsing in the store and chatting with Bethany, her fellow cashier-on-duty-that-day Jeanne, and other members of their very friendly staff while knitting a few rounds on my latest project. Snowy weather: Bad for driving, awesome for knitting!

I've gotten spoiled by the great LYSes here in Austin, and thus am frequently disappointed when I visit shops in other towns, but JBW really delivers the goods in their store as well as online--and I'm not just saying that because they gave me a scholarship, I swear. It was really everything I look for in an LYS: nice roomy layout, great selection (including stuff I don't see at home), inspiring samples and swatches everywhere, perusing and petting encouraged. The place was so delightful, I just couldn't resist picking up a few skeins of new yarn while I was there. Guess that de-stash diet will be a New Year's resolution-type thing...because I know the next time I'm in the five and dime, I'll definitely be thinking about going back to Jimmy Beans.

No comments: