BLOOM in Queen Anne: May 5

Today I took a little jaunt around the neighborhood to Trader Joe’s. Walking past Charley + May I decided to pop in and introduce myself. The timing was most fortuitous, since Maggie from the Queen Anne Farmers’ Market was visiting, as well as local PR guru Lesa Linster.

We exchanged business cards and it all felt very proper and grown up. I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years now, and I still feel like I little kid playing newspaper when I hard over that card. Anyway.

Charley + May had delightful little temporary tattoos for business cards, with all the shop information printed handily on the back:

Stopping in also brought the news that participating Upper Queen Anne Merchants will be handing out flowers to celebrate the arrival of spring. “The merchants appreciate the support of the many people who shop local in Queen Anne and we thought handing out flowers would be a cheerful token of thanks,” offers Lauren Formicola, of Charley + May.

So come out to stroll along the boulevard, and pick up some beautiful spring flowers with many thanks from our merchants!

Hilltop Yarn is hanging up its knitting needles, closing its doors for good March 29

After nearly nine years running a neighborhood yarn and knit-centric craft shop, Queen Anne resident and Hilltop Yarn owner Jennifer Hill says the store will be hanging up its knitting needles for good at the end of the month.

Hilltop Yarn, located at 2225 Queen Anne Ave N. will be closing up shop Monday, March 29, and is offering sales on its stock from now until closing.

Hill said the decision was not taken lightly. It came after two years of serious consideration–after an electrical fire in their previous location in late 2008 almost burned the shop down and left the entire stock with smoke damage; after sales tax went up, again.

“It’s been coming for a number of years,” Hill said. “I think most small business owners would tell you they have pretty complicated relationships with their business. You’re constantly toying with the idea that tomorrow will be better. We’re pretty optimistic people, small business owners–we’re intrinsically optimistic.”

Like many small business owners, a couple unfortunate events alongside the economic downturn has made it hard to make ends meet. Hill hasn’t been able to take in income for nearly two years. Instead, she’s been looking for jobs.

“I’ve applied for a lot of jobs over the last year. My business really hasn’t paid me any significant amount of money since the fire, so I’ve been applying for the last two years and I’ve been turned down and turned down,” Hill said. “I heard a lot of ‘You’ve been your own boss for a long time. You don’t really want to come here and have me be your boss.'”

Until finally Nordstrom’s saw her years experience as a business owner as a plus and offered her a job. And though she’s sad to say goodbye to her own shop, Hill can’t hide the fact that she’s ecstatic to have a full time job.

“I’m fully employed. I’m thrilled!” she said. “Nordstrom’s was the first place that valued that I’d been my own boss. It’s a good fit.”

Hill, who has lived in Queen Anne since she was 12 and is very involved with the Upper Queen Anne Merchants Association, said she will be most sad to leave the league of neighborhood business owners that work to bring the community together through organizing programs like Holiday Magic and Halloween trick-or-treating.

“It’s been really exciting to work with all the other business owners on the Ave and make the community great,” she said. “That’s the one thing I’m so grateful to my business for–to be able to really make in impact in my own neighborhood. I’ll really miss that.”

And though Hilltop Yarn will no longer be open, Hill has no intention of letting all of the knitting fun born out of the shop go to waste. Over the years she has compiled a network of knitting lovers who frequently attend specialty classes offered at Hilltop or meet for weekly knitting groups.

“I have two amazing women who work for me who are teachers, and I’m meeting with one of them tomorrow morning to get their website set up so she can continue teaching classes,” Hill said, noting that someone suggested she sell her contact list, to which she responded, “These are my friends and neighbors and I’m not going to profit off of that.”

As for the two active knitting groups who meet at the shop on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Hill said she’s talked with Brent, the owner of Muse Coffee Co. on 10th Ave W. and Greg over at Eat Local, just kitty corner from Hilltop, about hosting the group after the shop closes.

As for what is to become of the building, Hill said she’s looking for new tenants.

“The building owner in my new space is probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever worked with–she’s wonderful!” she said. “I’d love to see some exciting entrepreneur jump in there and make great use of that space.”

In preparation for closing, everything at Hilltop is now 10 percent off, and Hill said the discounts will increase every week until the 29th.

“By the last week things will probably be 30, 40 even 50 percent off. So hopefully there will be some good deals to be had!”