Pins and Needles knitting store in downtown Princeton closing

For 18 years, the owner of Pins and Needles on Chambers Street in downtown Princeton has welcomed knitters, would-be knitters and needlepointers to the cozy store on Chambers Street in downtown Princeton where people drop by for supplies, guidance, lessons and more. But those days will soon be over. Citing a dramatic drop in traffic and business since the new parking meter system was implemented in Princeton in December, owner Kathleen Gittleman announced today that she is closing the store for good in late May.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell each of you that after 18 amazing years Pins and Needles will be closing. It is not a decision I’ve come to lightly — I’ve wrestled with it for months.  The reasons are simple and yet complicated.  Traffic and business has been down dramatically and suddenly since the beginning of December,” Gittleman wrote in an email to customers. “The specific reasons for that are many too, parking for sure, changing retail shopping patterns…a perfect storm if you will.”

Back in January, Gittleman was one of several Princeton merchants who told the Princeton Council at public meetings that the new meter system was too complicated and too expensive. “My customers have been blown away by the rate increase,” she told the mayor and council on Jan. 14, noting that her customers are used to paying 50 to 75 cents an hour in other towns. She said there is tremendous pressure on brick and mortar retail stores with the competition from online stores like Amazon. Shoppers can buy things from their sofas, she said, adding that the new parking meter system was “making it complicated and expensive for people to get off that sofa” and come shop in Princeton.

In her letter announcing the closing of Pins and Needles, Gittleman thanked customers and staff members for their support over all the years. Some staff members have worked at Pins and Needles since the store opened — “almost a third of our lives,” Gittleman wrote, calling all the people who have worked at Pins and Needles “an important part of the fabric.”

“This has been a wonderful adventure for all of us here and each of us will miss the store and our customers, the regulars and the drop ins, the local and the far flung,” Gittleman wrote. “For all of us the best part of this place was always each of you and the joy we shared in helping you nurture a creative outlet in your life, develop lifelong skills, and sometimes find shelter from the storms of life in the simple act of manipulating two sticks and string or pulling a needle through a canvas. You will all be missed.”

The last day Pins in Needles will be open is May 21. Starting today, Pins and needles is selling everything at 20 percent off. The week of April 30 to May everything will be 30 percent off. The third week of the sale, everything will be 40 percent off, and the last week everything will be 50 percent off. The store will be open until 6 p.m. daily.

“I know there will be a million questions and loose ends to resolve — stop by or call and we’ll get it all figured out,” Gittleman wrote. “To say that these words don’t begin to express my gratitude doesn’t get half way there but to each of you who were part of our universe here and shared a bit of yourself with all of us…thank you.”

Please share your thoughts on this story.

9 comments
  • My annual trip to NJ in December and the ritual to shop at Pins and Needles for my gift to myself will be a loss. Thank you all for the 18 years of support and love. I have so many beautiful Princeton items. I hope you find a space to hold you.

  • I am So sorry to hear about the closing of the store. It has been a pleasure over the years to walk into the shop for knitting and/or needlepoint supplies. The store has been a welcoming place full of eye candy.
    You will be sorely missed! Thank you for your special store full of warmth & beautiful supplies.

  • Kathleen, and the staff at Pins and Needles have been one of the finest businesses in Princeton. It is truly sad to hear this news, but not surprising, for the reasons she has mentioned. Many of our most loyal customers (Cranbury Station Gallery) have come to us because of Kathleen’s generous kind words of referral. This is what retail stores dream of. I will always be grateful to Kathleen, and will miss her professionalism and expertise.

  • Remember fellow boomers when the original SNL show had a bit about a scotch tape store in a mall. All they sold was tape. Nobody came there. This isn’t even about Amazon. How about AC Moore and Michael’s? Yeah, the parking ya da ya da. It was always bad and yet merchants still run stores meant for a different time and place while disappearing only to be replaced by other irrelevant shops. Gee, let’s now cater to the University crowd across the street the past few centuries. Ya’think?! How about some stores that recognize the heavy number of Asian students. You don’t need to be a genius to consider changing demographics. Quaint unique stores belong in Williamsburg not in a viable shopping area with a captive student crowd. Don’t mean to be harsh but the world has not changed since last December. These changes have been baking for 10+ years.

  • With the increases in the undergraduate student population, more stories will convert to student aimed businesses. Yet another chocolate shop is getting ready to open on Witherspoon St near the Army/Navy store.

    It’s a real shame about Pins & Needles. It is a really nice and unique store to have had in town.

  • I rarely went in because the couple times I went in the people running the shop were pretty rude and ambivalent. I always got the feeling I was not welcome.

  • our downtown is in serious trouble. bandaid approaches of slightly reducing parking costs are not sufficient to make a difference.

  • I’m so sorry to hear this! I love your store Kathleen! That air of gentility, sharing, and the small pleasures of making something with your own hands will be greatly missed. Too few places exist where these attributes to our lives are found.

    If I never told you, I should now. As a child growing up in Chicago in the 50’s, I had the wonderful privilege of frequently accompanying my grandmother to the AP grocery store, the “beauty parlor” and her favorite knitting store, where “Sis” kept the needles clacking and the conversation chirping. This was the first place where I learned about women’s strength, unspoken bonds and solidarity. Your store always re-centered me on those memories…it’s a true pity other younger women and men will miss this experience- thank you for 18 years of P&N!

  • The parking problem and the ease of online shopping has affected many small shops in small towns everywhere. Senior citizens cant park blocks away to run into a main street store for 10 minutes and either pay too much in the meter or cant find an empty parking spot.

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