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REAL ESTATE | After 15 years Main Street Yarn Shop in Hartford, WI is closing

March 8, 2023 – Hartford, WI – Another change ahead for Main Street in Hartford, WI as Ronda Hattori is buttoning up her business after 15 years and closing Main Street Yarn Shop, 59 N. Main St.

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“I started in 2008 when the economy was totally in the tank,” said Hattori who lived a simple meme she incorporated into her store, “Sit… Knit… Be Happy!”

Hattori was 40 years old when she started the yarn shop. It wasn’t the best time, she admitted as some of the hot topics in the economy were “bad debt, recession, and bankruptcy.”

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“For 11 years I worked at Russ Darrow, and I just knew that at age 40 I wanted to do something different,” she said. “So, I decided to open up my dream job in my hometown.  Yeah, that was scary. But really, craft stores usually are kind of recession proof because people still want to do their hobbies, even when you know you are going into recession.”

Hattori moved forward with an oft mentioned mantra of “no fear.”

Uncle Larry's Storage

“I just knew the money would come and I knew it was the right thing for me at that time.,” she said. “Fifteen years later, had my situation been different, I would still be here, but it’s okay. I’m really at peace with it.”

Hattori said there’s a lot going on in her life right now. “I’m not going out of business,” she said. “I’m just closing a storefront for a few reasons. But the main reason is, I’m going to be taking care of a friend who has cancer. I can’t do that effectively when I’m running a store by myself. So, it just helped make my decision that I needed to close the storefront, so I could have more time for that.”

With 15 years downtown, Hattori considers herself part of the waning storefront group with “longevity.”

“John’s Hobbies has always been here,” she said. “So, me, John’s and Douglas Jewelers are the oldest ones downtown.”

Hattori remembers the business Creative License which was directly across the street for a while; that later changed to a fitness place and then a furniture store.

“Yeah, we’ve had a lot of changes down here,” she said.

Hattori’s space, with the spinning wheels in the front window and the large wine glass stuffed with skeins and balls and hanks of yarn, was once home to Kay’s Gift Shop.

Wendy Wendorf

“When I took it over it was Unique Interiors, which is now right next door to Kate’s Closet.”

Just as the storefront space was “meant to be” according to Hattori, so too the name of the shop.

“I wanted to call it Purl and my husband didn’t get that because he thought, no one will know what that means. But, you know, knitters would of course know what that means,” said Hattori. From there she mused about simply calling it The Yarn Shop.

“I wanted to call it The Yarn Shop, but my brother and sister-in-law owned The Scrub Shop, which is where Faith and Giggles is now, so I passed on that. My sister suggested Ye Ole Fancy Hooker… crocheters would think that was funny but then it just kind of became obvious The Main Street Yarn Shop.”

Hattori prided herself on carrying only natural fibers. “That’s just what I believe in,” she said. “I believe in classic things; felting was always big and shawls along with sock knitting.”

Reflecting on her impact in the industry, Hattori felt her legacy is that she brought people together. “I really helped create a community where people learned that knitting is good for the soul,” she said. “I’ve taught a generation of children to knit; I had a young knitters club, and all these children are now in their late 20s and that’s pretty amazing to me.  I created friendships with people who would never have known each other had it not been for this shop opening up. That’s something I’m most proud of.”

Questioned what the response was from the community when people heard she was closing the store, Hattori said the initial reaction was one of “shock and awe.”

“I guess people think you’re always going to be here, right? So, the response to my post was, overwhelming. People told me I have changed their life, which is very dramatic. I don’t know if that’s really true. But some said I was their home away from home, their happy place.”

While Hattori feels some sadness to be leaving downtown, her neighboring storefront families have opened doors she didn’t expect.

“I have been offered to teach at stores around town including the Local Collective, Horizon Outfitters, and The Frame Shop to name a few,” she said. “I’m so grateful other business owners will allow me to teach in their stores and as far as classes, I’m going to be available for hire so I can come to your house and teach knitting classes or I might do a little online if people need help, we can maybe FaceTime and do that since I won’t be available in person.

“I’m kind of excited about what’s next, for me, personally, I mean it’s an evolution. It’s not an ending. So Main Street Yarn Shop is just evolving.”

Hattori’s last day will be March 31, 2023.

To put a bow on it, Hattori just wanted to thank the people of Hartford.

“Oh, my goodness. Yes. 100% Hartford has been so amazing to me. Just some of the things that people have said about my shop, even people who don’t necessarily shop here but just know that I’ve been here for so long and that I have provided a space for people to gather. I’m grateful to Hartford, I will always be grateful, and this just worked out exactly the way it was supposed to work out and I was honored to be a shop owner down here.”

On a history note: Sign still on the front door at 59 N. Main Street.

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