Well, my name is Josh and I’m the knitter who doesn’t knit. I’ve never picked up a knitting needle and to be honest, I didn’t even know what the term “Skien” even meant! Needless to say, Ben and Karen took a chance on hiring me.
Let me explain, I operate the knitting machines that do all the work for me and most of you would say, “That takes all the fun out of it!” If there is one thing I’ve learned from the knitting community, you all are DEEPLY passionate about knitting and have developed a really great skill! You’re all rock stars.
I was hired on to help alleviate the growing demand of our 100% wool hoodies and apparel products that we previously would outsource to a company in New York. An opportunity came about for Ben and Karen to purchase knitting machines from overseas and continue our apparel production, in house. In February of 2019, they arrived.
Meanwhile, I was managing the Shopko here in town and it was announced that they were officially going out of business. I was going to lose my job. If anyone has been through Buffalo, we have a population of 4,500 and the only other general retail store in town was Family Dollar. Not a lot of opportunity for retail manager and I have a family of three to take care of.
We had some community support, thankfully. An accounting firm offered to do employee taxes for free and regulars would come in and vent about the closure and were concerned about what the employees were going to do for work. It wasn’t until Ben and Karen came in one day and offered to hold interview for potential positions that were going to be available at the wool mill. I’ll say this, they were the only business in town that approached me about offering jobs to anyone interested.
That spoke VOLUMES to me.
Fast forward to September, I was working at an Oil and Gas consulting company but didn’t feel it was the right fit for me. I remember Ben and Karen from the day they came to Shopko and wanted to reach out. I was also freelancing a social media management service on my free time and saw they had a substantial following on Facebook, so I thought, “I’ll add that to the mix, maybe they will hire me!” Luckily, they had a position open for overseeing the knitting operation, but they wanted to move their social media marketing in house, it was perfect! My first day was October 4th and it’s been amazing working for this caring family owned wool mill.
I now know what a skein is, but still haven’t picked up a knitting needle. :P