“The vulgarity, vile and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable,’ the shop owner broadcast on social media
As you could imagine, the iconic pink “pussy hats” that adorned the heads of many protesting men and women caused quite a run on pink yarn in the days preceding the Women’s Marches around the world last week.
Even the most oblivious shop owners would have to noticed that something was afoot given the spike in demand. Of course, most shop owners would look past politics to embrace the booming business. Further, many of those novices knitting their hats might catch the bug and take it up as a new hobby.
But the Elizabeth Poe, proprietor of The Joy of Knitting in Franklin, Tennessee wasn’t willing to look past the cause when she learned of how all this pink yarn was to be used.
In the shop’s Facebook post that really needs no introduction or analysis, she states her reason plainly and directly:
"With the recent women's march on Washington, I ask that you if you want yarn for any project for the women's movement that you please shop for yarn elsewhere. The vulgarity, vile and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and is not welcomed at The Joy of Knitting. I will never need that kind of business to remain open. Two wrongs will never ever make it right."
"As the owner of this business and a Christian, I have a duty to my customers and my community to promote values of mutual respect, love, compassion, understanding, and integrity. The women's movement is counterproductive to unity of family, friends, community, and nation."
"I do pray for these women. May the God work out His love in their hearts and continue to heal and unite Americans."
Regardless of whose attendance numbers you are inclined to believe, if you have eyeballs and the ability to count, you’ll see that she was willing to forgo a fair amount of business:
Granted, this photo wasn’t taken on the streets of Tennessee, but she clearly had enough interest that she felt obligated to issue the public response above.
Because the discussion of issues like these is a two-way street, many social media users, also feeling a sense of obligation, replied to the store’s hardline stance against helping people demonstrate for equality.
The comments, viewable in the link above, are almost uniformly against her sentiment and ideology, with several questioning the timing of her decree, posted Tuesday, after the marches had already taken place:
It unlikely the demand for pink yarn is going to ebb in the coming months, so while she may have cashed in once before putting her foot down, it’s unlikely owner Elizabeth Poe will do it again. If nothing else, her store is guided by policies...so many policies:
TJOK policies: All sales are final. No returns. No exchanges. No exceptions. Project assistance is $50 per hour for yarn that has been purchased at The Joy of Knitting and $75 per hour for yarn not purchased at The Joy of Knitting. Appointments are available 9am to 10am Tuesday through Friday and 6pm to 8pm on Thursday. $25 is due at the time of scheduling the appointment. There is no refund is you miss the appointment. If you reschedule the appointment, the $25 will be applied to the new appointment time.
Due to yarn absorbing smells, if you are a smoker, have recently applied lotion, or have just eaten, please do not handle yarn until you have washed your hands. No food allowed.
The Joy of Knitting does love little ones. But for the enjoyment of all TJOK customers, children are not allowed to enter the yarn shop unless they are attending a class.
KALs are free and are open to those whose yarn for the KAL has been purchased at TJOK.
After responding to select commenters, she posts the following statement, doubling down on both her shop’s practice and, subsequently, her confusion of homophones. She’s steadfast, there’s no arguing that.
She’s said her piece. Now the customers are taking their turn. According to a Washington Post piece on the controversy, “the store’s rating on Facebook shot down to 1.3 stars. Of around 7,900 ratings, 7,200 were one-star reviews (compared to 28 2-star, six 3-star, 10 4-star and 573 5-star reviews).” Yelp has stepped in to monitor the barrage of low ratings the store faces on that site as well. Visitors to the Joy of Knitting’s Yelp have also taken to raising the price rating of the store – it now sits at “$$$$ Ultra High-End.” Fancy.
It’s hard to feel good about a small business owner suffering very real economic repercussions for stating her beliefs, as is her right. But surely she understands that it’s the right of the people she vilified to seek recourse through boycotts and online expression. Poe made the decision to alienate women. From a yarn store. The response isn’t exaclty revelatory.
Should this interest you in creating your very own homemade pussy hat, we offer a tutorial here. It doesn’t require yarn, but if you choose to go with yarn, the Pussyhat Project is more than happy to help you find shops that will take your money.