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Chilliwack yarn shop owner says goodbye to close-knit customers as she closes store after 22 years

‘This is where you come to have amazing friends,’ says Debbie Coté of Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch
Debbie Coté, owner of Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch, is closing up shop after 22 years. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A yarn store that’s been in Chilliwack for more than 20 years is closing its doors at the end of the month.

Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch – a fibre arts store that sells yarn, knitting and crocheting supplies, plus embroidery goods – will be closing on Feb. 28.

Owner Debbie Coté bought the store 22 years ago.

“This is where you come to have amazing friends,” she said, adding that Aunt Debbie’s is a very social space.

“It’s the non-alcoholic cheers… I know about (customers’) kids and grandkids and I’ve watched kids from the time that they were born to now 15, 20 years old,” Coté said.

“I know generations of families. That’s what I’m going to miss the most is just knowing my people.”

Aunt Debbie’s came about when Coté saw an ad in a newspaper for the yarn shop back in 2001. She was ready to start a family and thought it would be fun to own a yarn shop.

Coté bought the store in March 2001 and her first child was born later that same year. Three and a half years later, her twins were born and she also opened a second shop called Woolaroo in Abbotsford. Woolaroo closed around 2015.

In 2021, she moved the shop to its current location on Vedder Road.

“This is probably the best location anybody could have for a yarn shop,” she said.

For more than two decades, she has been welcoming folks into her store and helping people find the perfect yarn for their projects.

Aunt Debbie’s has always been a “safe space” and a place where the’s no judgement, Coté said.

She’s had 90-year-old women needing help with their projects, and knitters come in wanting to learn how to do a certain type of stitch only to forget and come back the next day to be taught that same stitch again.

Coté figures she’s taught thousands of people how to knit, crochet and more.

Debbie Coté, owner of Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch, is closing up shop after 22 years. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Debbie Coté, owner of Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch, is closing up shop after 22 years. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Over the past 22 years, she’s moved the store three times. She had some interesting stories about the previous locations.

Coté recalled one spot which she called the Leaning Tower of Pisa. One day she came to work to find plywood on the door and glass all over the place. After realizing it was not a break-in, a homeless man who was sleeping outside came inside to speak with her.

“He said ‘The cops came here about 5:30 and they put plywood on there… all of a sudden there was this big boom and it broke.’”

The pressure of the leaning building had burst the glass.

The man also watched over the store to make sure no looters went inside. Coté bought him breakfast to thank him for his kindness.

Although the current location on Vedder Road is an ideal place for a yarn shop, and she said it is still feasible to stay open, due to a number of reasons, it’s time to say good-bye.

The costs of supplies, rent and heat have gone up about 20 per cent since the beginning of COVID-19. Plus she is now working a new job as a passport officer in Surrey.

“I’m excited and not excited,” she said about closing up the shop. “It’s like when your babies finally grow up and move away, this is me moving away. This is one of my babies. I’ve done this for 22 years… it was time.”

But, despite the fact that the store will no longer be around, people will still be able to buy supplies from Aunt Debbie’s.

Coté noted that they are already in the process of “reincarnating.”

She’s working on an online store which she plans on having up-and-running by mid-March, plus she’s researching places for pop-up shops.

The last four days that Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch will be open are: Feb. 25 to 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The store is located at #10-7300 Vedder Rd. in Chilliwack.

Everything is 50 per cent off with some exceptions.


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Jenna Hauck

About the Author: Jenna Hauck

I started my career at The Chilliwack Progress in 2000 as a photojournalist.
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