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A Stitch in Time — The Southern Needle looks to spark renaissance

A nurse by trade Beverly Anglin opened The Southern Needle as a sort of hybrid retail store/education center in a bid to resurrect a dying art and industry.

A nurse by trade Beverly Anglin opened The Southern Needle as a sort of hybrid retail store/education center in a bid to resurrect a dying art and industry.

While Beverly Anglin is a risk-taker, she is not your typical entrepreneur.

Ask most small business owners about their goals, they usually will talk about revenues, profits, market share. Anglin, owner of The Southern Needle in the Trace Station Shopping Center in Ridgeland, talks little about any of those things. In fact, she has few goals but one very ambitious, overriding mission  — to help spark a renaissance in the art of needlework.

To that end, she has created The Southern Needle, which serves as both a retail store and a knitting education center; where an inventory of new yarns, needles and accessories are mixed with handcrafted creations from the past and family heirlooms while leaving room for people to gather, learn and share.

“In all of Mississippi, there are only five yarn shops, and there is only one needlepoint shop,” said Anglin, a nurse by trade who opened The Southern Needle about a year ago. “Now, that’s sad.”

For her, the mission of The Southern Needle is less about winning customers and more about converting souls to handcrafts. Anglin said she lives for those “ah-ha” moments when people walk into her shop and “it shows on their face — what I call ‘closet knitters.'”

“The Southern Needle grew out of my desire to have a yarn shop in this area that provides a warm, friendly atmosphere for folks to come gather for lessons, purchase good quality yarns and develop relationships out of the common bond of creativity,” Anglin said. “I have a passion for knitting and crocheting, which I learned from my grandmother, and I feel an obligation to pass that passion on to others; to honor the culture and history of this art form and be a part of its renaissance.”

While all of her talk about family, heritage and culture sounds distinctly Southern, Anglin is actually Canadian. It was there that she learned the finer points of needlework from her Norwegian grandmother, and it was there that she discovered her hands had talents beyond knitting.

“Growing up, I always had something in my hands. I was always trying to fix things, even wounded or sick animals,” Anglin remembered. “I guess that’s why I went into the health care field. No one in my family had a background in nursing.”

After graduating from a Nightingale school, Anglin was practice nursing in Toronto in 1977 when she responded to an advertisement in the local newspaper for nursing positions at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson. She originally had no intention of staying in Mississippi, but weeks turned into months, months turned into years, and her roots in the Magnolia State took firm hold when she married a Mississippi man.

Her passion for needlework followed Anglin, and for more than a decade she dreamed of opening a yarn shop in the greater Jackson area. Then, she was approached about space in the Trace Station Shopping Center on U.S. Highway 51 in Ridgeland. Lacking financing, Anglin literally mortgaged her own future.

“I didn’t want to take out a business loan, so I borrowed the money from myself — I took the equity out of my house to open The Southern Needle,” Anglin said with a grin.

Today in addition to yarns and needles, The Southern Needle offers classes for beginners in knitting and crocheting, monthly “knit-alongs” that encourage new techniques while aiming to foster an appreciation for needlework, particularly among children. The second and fourth Thursday of every month is Open Door Night, where anyone can come for a couple of hours to knit, crochet or execute some other form of handcraft, share ideas and tips while developing new relationships.

The Southern Needle also offers custom-made pieces from scarves, shawls, cowls to doll clothing and Christmas ornaments as well as needlework repair and restoration.

“We are currently working on a 100-year-old bed cover for a customer,” Anglin said. “People are bringing in old pieces all the time that are damaged or need care. It’s very rewarding restoring someone’s family heirloom.”

The store’s hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays. The hours are limited by Anglin’s schedule. She continues to work three days a week as a surgical nurse in Baptist Cancer Services and only has one volunteer, non-paid helper at The Southern Needle. Now 62 and looking at retirement, Anglin said she looks forward to the time when she can be at The Southern Needle every day.

Up until now, Anglin’s marketing efforts have been through social media (Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram) and her website (www.thesouthernneedle.com. She is currently working on her first mass mailer, a postcard campaign, but it’s what could come from an ad in a local high school newspaper that has Angln the most excited.

“This little 17-year-old girl, a student at Madison Central High School, recently came in the store looking to sell me an ad in the school’s newspaper,” Anglin remembered. “When she walked in, I could see it in her eyes. I told her I’d buy an ad, and I asked her if she knitted. She said she used to. With that, I asked her if Madison Central had a knitting club. I told her I would support one, and the club could meet after school in the store once a week.” Throwing her hands up, Anglin added, “And it’s in the works! Isn’t that exciting?”

 

About Wally Northway

One comment

  1. What a great story, Beverly I hope you succeed beyond your wildest dreams. And getting young people to craft – wonderful! We travel the United States in our motorhome and all of the successful shops I have seen combine lessons, informal teaching and writing – so let me know when you start your blog

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