Knitting store keeps idle hands out of trouble

By |2018-01-16T16:30:28-05:00March 16th, 2006|Entertainment|

ANN ARBOR – At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Kevin Bryant could be a quarterback. But he’s not. He’d rather score some yarn to knit a pair of socks.
And for that, Bryant chose Busy Hands in Ann Arbor. “The people are very friendly,” he said. “Some knitting stores I’ve been to are very standoffish. A guy comes in and they’re like, ‘OK, whatever.’ But they’re ready to sell their merchandise.”
He might not fit the stereotype of a knitter, but Bryant’s been doing it for two years. While he blames his friends for dragging him to knitting stores, now he “finds it’s really relaxing and low-impact. I can sit in front of the TV and just knit for hours.”
Owner Rebecca Konieczny wasn’t fazed by Kevin’s visit to her store. “I have a lot more men knitters than the average (knitting) store,” she says. “Men feel more comfortable in my store. It’s not intimidating. It’s bright and colorful.”
It’s also kind of gay. “I have lots of things organized in the back wall that forms a rainbow,” she says. “I actually did that, I looked at the prism and did the colors that way.”
Bryant describes his hands as “fidgety and busy,” and knitting allows them to move while he makes hand-knitted socks and hats, among other items, for himself, family and friends. With their wide range of reasonably priced merchandise, the inexpensive price tags on the acrylic stock surprised Bryant the most.
When Konieczny planned out the strategy for her business, she considered competitive prices as just one of many opportunities to make Busy Hands stay, well, busy.
“I wanted something to appeal to people who weren’t knitters – that happened to be just with the knitter or the stitcher – so they wouldn’t be bored,” she says. While planning the store’s stock, she went for an “inviting and inclusive atmosphere” with original textures and colors, jewelry, Russian folk crafts and other imported items.
She also had an ideal customer in mind. “I wanted that customer to be hip and urban and to work for a living,” she says. To appeal to this ideal customer, she had to keep in mind that not too long ago she was working a day job in public accounting and the non-profit industry.
She decided to be open evenings during the week, open on the weekends and on Sunday. “I was going to accommodate the person that I used to be,” she says. “The person that likes to go to dinner, then shop and then go to a club.”
With slim pickings of knitting stores in the metro Detroit area, Bryant wouldn’t be able to frequent Busy Hands if Konieczny didn’t get an extra push from her husband, Chris. “It was actually my spouse who said, ‘You know you’ve always talked about this and there are doers and there are talkers, which one do you want to be?”
Clearly, Konieczny is a “doer.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.