Sue Coonrod at her business, Plattsburgh Yarn & Gifts.
PLATTSBURGH — For years, Sue Coonrod wanted a yarn and gift store with a personality of its own.
She envisioned an old building with character, big front windows and a central location.
First there was an education career to finish, but now that she has retired, Coonrod has seen her dream through to reality and has been enjoying success in the City of Plattsburgh where she opened Plattsburgh Yarn & Gifts at 16 Brinkerhoff Street.
“I wanted a place where knitters could get together,” Coonrod said.
Coonrod spent her educational career in college relations, teaching art and special education and as a special education administrator and school principal. She retired from Beekmantown Central School.
She was passionate about her career in education, but she also had other dreams for herself.
“My daughter is an avid knitter and I have knitted all my life,” she said. “You have to drive to Lake Placid or go across the lake to go to a yarn store.”
Coonrod had been in business previously when she had run her own shop in Essex in 1997. Also an artist, she sold some of her pottery and paintings there and loved working for herself.
She was determined to open a yarn store in Plattsburgh and wanted to be downtown.
“I was able to get my first choice in locations, right across from the Arts Center,” Coonrod said.
Early on as she set up her store, she found vintage fixtures that had been used in a general store in Vermont. When she went to refinish the floor, the flooring was on sale.
She asked her daughter, Rosie, and friends what to fill the store with, what kind of yarns to carry. She conducted an informal survey on how to set everything up.
“Yarns have different weights,” Coonrod said. “They are made of different fibers. My daughter said when she goes into a yarn store she has a project in mind and likes to see it arranged by weight.”
So Coonrod started with that, though with her artist’s eye it also became about color.
“Then, out of the blue, I received an email from Gretchen Barton, one of only 10 TKGA Certified Master Knitters in New York state,” Coonrod said. “She had relocated to Plattsburgh and was very interested in my venue. She now offers knitting classes and workshops at Plattsburgh Yarn & Gifts.”
Coonrod’s daughter set up the web site, which she said has been extremely useful for customers and class registration.
She chose her yarns for their high quality and reasonable prices, with brands that include Berroco, Cascade, Plymouth, Lambs Pride, Baby Wool, Rowan and James C. Brett.
A local fiber artist named Heidi Fortsch also supplies the store with yarn she dies and spins herself.
“She uses wool, alpaca, even a little cashmere,” Coonrod said. “I also carry Frog Tree Yarns.”
Local handmade items at the store are truly a family affair with her mother, Margaret McCaw, creating knitting needle organizers, tote bags, aprons and table runners, and her niece, Lacey Ahrent selling framed local photos and photo greeting cards.
Renee Hall, a former colleague, sews quilted knitting bags and Julie Fredette, another former colleague, offers felted purses and bags.
Coonrod offers her artwork.
She has enjoyed running the business so far and said the store has done well.
“I was ready to work hard and do something for myself, and the pieces fell into place,” she said.
Plattsburgh Yarn & Gifts is located at 16 Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh and can be found online at: plattsburghyarnandgifts.com.