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Detroit's only Black woman-owned yarn store weaves together art, friendships, community

Scott Talley, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Fashion Daily News

DETROIT — Sally Moore's belief in her power to "make magic" is unshakable.

As Moore has faced challenges dished out by law school, high-stakes litigation cases and competitive entrepreneurial competitions, along with the destructive impact of breast cancer on her support circle, the magic has still been with her.

Even during this present time of uncertainty for many, due to a global pandemic that does not seem to be lessening, Moore's response is guided by her own magic, which in this instance involves opening a new business in the city she loves.

"Energy is going to flood the space and we'll watch what grows from having a collective group of individuals that are going in the same direction," said Moore, four days before the grand opening of Parker Avenue in Rivertown, the only Black woman-owned yarn shop in the city of Detroit.

A practicing attorney for 25 years and a self-described student of people for even longer, Moore has added "business owner" to her resume to "positively impact socioeconomic and racial disparity" in Detroit. With a name that pays tribute to Dorothy Parker — the celebrated writer, poet, editor, playwright and critic who was part of a famous clique that assembled daily for lunch in New York during the Roaring '20s — Moore's shop offers all things related to knitting and crochet and more. And it is the "more" part of the equation, which has the shop owner fired up.

"I am passionate about this business and what can happen when fiber-crafting women from all walks of life have a place to call home," said Moore, who grew up in Palmer Woods and graduated from Cass Tech in 1985. "The pandemic has taught us that interaction is what makes us human and the shop is all about connection, just like the yarn we knit with — we touch it, feel it. When you get people together around this common activity, they will see each other and have meaningful conversations about real things that matter most in their lives."

 

Moore further explains how mere yarn can transform lives and enrich her city by telling a story about driving west on I-94 this summer. It was a route that Moore had become accustomed to traveling while checking out other yarn shops across metropolitan Detroit. But on this day it was the conversation that was going on in her vehicle among women she adores (Dondi Roberts Parker, Joye Watts Mosley and Moore's sister Sharon), which held her attention.

"Their love for knitting and their support of the business brought them together, but in the car they were bonding about their breast cancer treatment spectrum and were laughing about things like chemo and diarrhea and throwing up and their boobs," Moore recalls. "That openness and ability to get all of that out was showing me how knitting and yarn have helped to sustain a lifelong, incredible community for three of the most important people in my world. It's so much bigger than string and stitching and weaving — it's human. And that's why I have to do this, because other people need a community."

Evidence of the community building that Moore spoke of could be found at Parker Avenue during the shop's first days of operation. Throughout the day on Dec. 28, a colorful array of masks were worn by about 40 customers representing multiple generations and an even broader range of sizes. But more than their exterior presentations and physical stature, it was the actions of the customers that spoke louder than words. Through the masks, there was no shortage of animated conversation and laughter, along with gentle, spontaneous touching and hugs, too.

"This is a gift from God," said Detroiter Karin Massey Brock, who was describing her feelings about becoming the shop's first 'Parker Purl,' a shop membership she was gifted that provides a special T-shirt, birthday discount, first dibs at limited-edition products and a "seat at the table" when decisions about the shop are being made. "I truly believe in supporting Detroit, but definitely a Black entrepreneur. And the shop is easy for me to get to from the west side, and easy for my 94-year-old mother to get to; she's my traveling buddy and has taught me everything about knitting and she's teaching me crochet."

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