From the mailbag: A reader states they want to open a store selling yarn but don't know where to get the supplies.
Answer: Okay - I hate to sound like a broken record but when you are considering opening any type of business, arts or crafts business or otherwise, there is no substitute for good practical experience. This normally involves working for someone else in the same type of business for a period of time until you know it from soup to nuts.
Working for another artist, crafter or business not only teaches you the specific skill, it exposes you to the complete picture of the business aspects of selling the craft or supply. Definitely, having prior experience working for a business in the same craft discipline to the one you want to start will be one of your major keys to success.
However, I also know that sometimes that just isn't feasible. So lacking practical experience, how do you find vendors to stock your shelves or provide your raw materials? This is very important because you need to find vendors that have wholesales terms so you can buy with a discount and establish terms. You also need this information because if you don't know how much your vendors are going to charge you for the raw materials, how can you set a reasonable retail price?
Arts and Crafts Publications:
To find vendors in your arts or crafts field, start by checking out the resources section of arts or crafts books and magazine that tailor themselves to your particular art or craft. Trade publications are particularly helpful in that arena as wholesalers heavily advertise in them trying to attract buyers like you!
Back to Basics - Searching the Internet:
Another idea is to simply do an internet search. I Googled the search term 'wholesale yarn suppliers' and found many potential yarn store suppliers. Now, not all of these are truly wholesale, rather they are marketing to individual internet purchasers by offering prices slightly below retail rather than offering a true wholesale vendor relationship. But, this is a place to start.
I also searched for USA suppliers of Vibration yarn (one of the only brand names I have laying around my shop right now) and found a fantastic link for resources and directories relating to yarns companies and related products. Actually, this link appears to have a wealth of information for any fashion type arts or crafts business.
Attend Relevant Trade Shows:
Here are some suggestions: