Get To Know Duluth Craft Store: Yarn Harbor

Recently, we worked with Mad Chicken Studio on a photo shoot featuring a few local businesses. It was amazing. As we share the photos, we thought we’d also take the time to feature these businesses.

First up is Yarn Harbor, a locally owned community staple for 15 years. In February, Yarn Harbor will move into a new, larger home in Lakeside so be sure to check it out! Until then, read all about this great business and its owner, Kathy Thomas, and stop by her Mount Royal location to see it for yourself.

Kathy Thomas of Yarn Harbor
15 years in business, owned by Kathy for the last 8

How did you get started? “I also run a gardening service in Duluth called Flowers on the Rock, and one of my clients was the previous owner of Yarn Harbor. When she left town and it went up for sale, it felt like the right match for me. Plus, a gardening service is busy in the summer, but a yarn store is busy in the winter. That works!”

Why did you choose Duluth? “I moved to Duluth when my son was starting 2nd grade. I wanted to buy a house and raise a family and to me, Duluth was the place to do that. I lived in Minneapolis before, and I was always trying to escape up north for the weekend. It made sense to move to Duluth. I typically go further north, but having a gardening service led me to Duluth for the mini Metropolitan feel. On top of all that, Duluth has always warmed my heart.”

What is the one thing your business known for? “Number 1 priority is making Yarn Harbor a comfortable place for knitters to come in and get help on projects. A lot of the times, you want to someone to walk you through it. Maybe you dropped a bunch of stitches and you need the help to figure it out. There’s a strong community at Yarn Harbor for people to come and hang out, to work on projects and to get help from others.”

What is your favorite thing about Duluth? “The fact that you can be by yourself in a matter of moments. The majestic quality, the land, the lakes and the trees calm me. I can look outside my door and look out my window at it any time. You can be completely alone and in nature whenever you want to be.”

What do you think about the current Duluth economy? “I bought Yarn Harbor right when the market crashed, so things have certainly picked up since then. It feels stable to me now. Big developments keep popping up, but the bigger the development, the bigger the rent. I was fortunate enough to find a building to buy in Lakeside. We’re moving at the end of February. The new building is at 4629 E Superior Street. We’ll be near the bead store, a coffee shop and a fabric store so we’ll be in good company.”

What would be your advice to someone thinking about opening a new business in Duluth? “Love it. It’s a lot of work. You have to truly have a passion for it. It’s a positive thing, but you have to passion for sure.”

What is something Duluthians might not know you offer? “I’m always trying to come up with something new, so events are a big deal. We do beer tastings in the summer with local breweries and we started yoga for knitters this winter.”

“Our local collection is also unique. We work with a local dyer, a woolen mill up in Finlayson, Alpaca from Cloquet. Three Irish Girls Yarn is local, and their yarn is beautiful. The local products are a bit more expensive but people really like it. Tourists really like knowing their yarn is from around Duluth.”

And now, for some fun facts about Kathy:

Favorite place to eat in Duluth: “Oh, all the local favorites. New Scenic, At Sarah’s Table for breakfast, Vitta Pizza in Canal Park, Va Bene, Duluth Coffee Co. are all great.”

Favorite other local business in Duluth: “Superior Beads for one. Bulldog Pizza has been totally loyal to our customers. They bring it over on real plates when we’re having events. Bent Paddle is great, they’re always there for the beer tasting.”

Favorite Duluth “hidden gem”: “Knitting at the beach. Go to Brighton, and take the wood path down toward the end. Walk down a couple blocks to the big cliff.”