Handing over an institution

Julie Rowe, the new owner of Yarn by the River and some of the displays at the shop.

Usually when a business changes hands it means a clean slate. The previous owner, having given up their business, goes their own way, so that they may retreat to their day job, retirement, or tax haven of their choice.

Narrandera business Yarn by the River has once again changed ownership, but such is the investment and camaraderie between the former owners and the new ones, that the former owners have happily leant their advice and support to the new owner.

Julie Rowe has taken on the business from Kellie Castle, who in turn purchased the business from its founder Hayley Curry.

“Hayley and Kellie have been very helpful, offering advice. They’ve both said that I can call them at any time and bounce ideas off them. It’s been very good, very helpful,” Ms Rowe said.

“I’ve never owned a business before – I’ve always been a teacher – so it’s just been fantastic.”

To celebrate Ms Rowe taking on the business, a morning tea and meet and greet was held on Saturday morning so that the regular customers could get to know their new proprietor.

“From what I can gather, there were quite a few people who were very apprehensive that the business wouldn’t sell,” Ms Rowe said.

“I’ve had people stopping me to congratulate me for keeping it going!”

Yarn by the River has been a runaway success story for Narrandera.

It is a knitting and crocheting supplies shop that has gained something of a cult following in the region with its quality wools, vintage vibe and beautiful displays – much of the furniture in the shop was sourced second-hand by the Currys.

Originally started by Ms Curry out of her backyard, it is now under the ownership of her colleague, Ms Rowe. A teacher by trade, Ms Rowe has been teaching for 20 years. She is currently still teaching part time, although she is looking for that to change.

“I just needed a bit of a change. Crafts and sewing have always been a hobby of mine, so I thought to do something along those lines would be a nice thing,” she said.

Ms Castle had enjoyed her time with the business, but as a qualified nurse with a family farm to help run, there were other demands on her time.

“She just felt that she didn’t have the time to put enough into the business,” Ms Rowe explained. “She just felt that it should go to someone who would put that bit more into it. I hope I’m that person!”

Currently the business will operate as normal. Opening hours will continue as normal as well. Ms Rowe would prefer to start slowly, particularly while she is juggling her other work.

“I’m just easing my way in. I’m still teaching, so I’ll go steady until I can cut back a bit more and put a bit more into the business,” she said.

Certainly at this point things will progress as normal until Christmas.

“Even if we do make a few changes, we don’t want to go too far from the original business.”

Currently Yarn by the River offers classes, which will continue to operate as normal under the watchful eye of Carly Buck, who was employed under Ms Castle and will continue her employment under Ms Rowe.

“I’m going to start kids’ classes on a Friday, after the holidays are done. But if anyone has a project that they’re working on, they’re more than welcome to bring their knitting or crocheting down and have a chat.”

“The yarn isn’t just in the title; it’s about that coming together, that being a part of the community,” Ms Rowe said.

“I think it’s important that I don’t lose sight of that; that a business like this isn’t just about how much yarn I can sell. It needs to be a part of the community.”

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