Yarn to Go with the Yarnover Truck
“We are now at Ocean and Wilshire in Santa Monica!!
It’s a beautiful day, come hang out!”
Looks like a Tweet from a buddy—and it is. But it’s a business memo as well. The Yarnover Truck, brainchild of Maridee Nelson and Barbra Pushies, is something like a food truck on the streets of Southern California, but instead of selling tacos, the truck sells yarn. Brilliant, yes?
It started with a former Little Debbie snack truck the women located on Craigslist. After having a mechanic check it out, the women sent it o to the Modesto home of Barbra’s brother Peyton, who set about the makeover. Peyton took about three months, working outside his construction job hours, to convert the truck from something designed to haul tasty snacks to something designed to sell tasty yarn. In between, the women focused on an ambitious $10,000 crowd-source campaign on Indiegogo and a whole lot of meeting and greeting.
Even if the truck wasn’t filled with yarn, you might be tempted to just move in. From the wood doors to the skylight framed with crown molding, “Debbie,” as the women call her, is one classy gal. Compared with brick-and-mortar stores, though, she is somewhat dainty, with room for just five customers at a time. The women dedicate most of the space to the yarn itself, stored in cubicles that are covered up and secured for travel. e fairly extensive yarn selection includes two colorways exclusive to the Yarnover Truck, produced by Baah Yarn and Anzula, both based in California.
“Our focus for purchasing the yarn was to try to carry things that other stores aren’t carrying,” Maridee said. The women also wanted to provide pattern support while keeping paper to a minimum. Their solution is to provide a single copy of each available pattern, some by Californibased designers. They sell download codes for the patterns that customers can access on their home computers.
Debbie hit the road in the spring of 2013 in Burbank. About 100 people joined in for the launch, Maridee said. “It was a beautiful sunny afternoon,” said Maridee. “Everyone sat and talked and knitted and crocheted. It was a lovely afternoon.” And, she added, “Sales were lovely.”
Because their shop is literally a moving target, the women rely on social media to keep their customers in touch with their next stop. They deliver an e-newsletter to subscribers to let folks know where they’ll be that week, and they post live updates through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Of course, as sales soar, their yarn stock dwindles, and there’s no back room for overstock. But they have that covered: only one person can be in the truck when it’s traveling, so the other person drives a car. With the car, they have a portable storage unit, which they stock from a larger storage unit before hitting the road. If their supply dwindles, they restock from the car’s stash. The car comes in handy, too, for scouting locations beforehand. “Every city that we sell in has different parking rules,” said Maridee.“We have to get a business license for every different city, and most have different rules for where we can park.”