By Julie Titone
Communications and Marketing Manager
Granite Falls yarn shop owner Suzi Quillen is a library power user. She regularly downloads free audiobooks and movies; she checks out stitchery books to share with customers. But she learned some new library tricks when she tried out Sno-Isle Libraries’ Book-a-Librarian service.
The one-on-one free consultations can be booked for 30 or 60 minutes. They can focus on any subject—a specific research question, a technology lesson, or just an overview of services that might be helpful to the customer. Most sessions take place at a library. But Granite Falls Library manager Jude Anderson is glad to go where his customers are. So when Quillen booked his services, he took a laptop to her shop, Perfectly Knotty, to explore library services she hadn’t known about.
He demonstrated how to access online databases that reveal the age groups, interests and average incomes of area residents.
“He showed me how to look up demographics, how to pull different pieces of information together,” Quillen said. “It was really fun and neat to get some concrete information, less speculative than I’d had before.”
Anderson showed her how to track consumer spending not only by geographic area, but by types of purchase—crafts, for example. “This information is really powerful and important to me as I focus on a market beyond Granite Falls,” she said. “The town proper is small—fewer than 3,500 people. But there’s a huge outlying area.”
Quillen is a needlework blogger and writes a newspaper column called Chronicles of Yarnia. She’s always looking for new information about the history of crocheting, her favorite form of needlework. She’d found most of the relevant books in the library’s catalog, but Anderson showed her how to look for magazine articles on the subject.
“He also showed me how to use Price-It,” she said, explaining how she used the antiques and collectibles search engine to research the value of a 1922 sock-knitting machine. She’s also priced some of the vintage furniture that her husband, Jeff, has restored.
“The results were things I could have found elsewhere—it pulled up a lot of eBay sales—but Price-It filters the information more cleanly. You don’t have to go through pages and pages of Google results.”
Quillen has long used her library card to download audiobooks that satisfy her taste for classic literature (“Robinson Crusoe” and “Atlas Shrugged”) or boost her business savvy (“The $100 Startup” and “The Barefoot Executive”). She listens while she’s driving and running errands, such as stopping by the library to pick up books.
In addition to bright skeins of yarn, Quillen’s shop always contains stacks of library books, books about knitting and crocheting; books with patterns and instructions. She tells customers—or, as she calls them, “my people”—that they can afford to buy better yarn if they don’t spend so much money on books.
Quillen sees frugality as a key to success for herself as well. And what would perfect success for Perfectly Knotty look like?
“I would love to be able to hire local people so I could spend more time with my designing and writing,” she said. “We don’t have a coffee shop here or a barber shop where people can watch the world go by. I’d like this to be a place in the community where people can feel connected.”