Being a Shopkeeper...

Being a Shopkeeper...

By Corinne Tomlinson

Here's a recent post from Instagram that I wanted to include here on the shop blog.  

Being a Shopkeeper is in my blood.  My Grandfather was a POW in Italy during WW2 where he lost an eye.   Years later when visiting us for a few days he would pop it in a glass of water overnight.  I loved running into my Grandad first thing in the morning whenever he would stay with us so I could see his eye bobbing in the glass.  

After the war he became a Shopkeeper.  He once owned a general store in the Scottish borders, then he owned a petrol (gas) station and by the time I came along he was running his own antiquarian Scottish books business from his home.  Every month he would crank out a newsletter with all the titles on offer and send the newsletter out to his list of customers from all over the world.  He was doing e-commerce before there was such a his day it was a good old catalog business where he’d niched down to specialize in something very Scottish.  

As a child, I loved visiting him in Fortrose on the Black Isle where I would walk through the shelves of books that had taken over his dining room.  I’d breathe in the dust and hold the old books up to my nose (I guess I've been a sniffer all my life! #yarnsniffer).  I would stamp lots of dates on old envelopes and bash on his typewriter.  I wanted to do what he did when I grew up.  

Decades (and decades!) later I am reminded of him because my business is very similar to his.  My monthly newsletter is a most important part of what makes TWT tick and it is sent out to my customers all over the world.  Instead of (purely) Scottish books, I specialize in yarns and knitting books from Scotland, England and Europe. 

I think of myself as a Shopkeeper (it’s what I put on my tax return) and although everything we do is online and we don’t have a brick & mortar store, neither did my Grandad.  Yet he had lovely connections all over the world as well as a great relationship with his local Post Master!  This work that I do feels the most natural thing in the world to me, because it was always there, in my blood. 


  • Thanks for your beautiful post about granddad. I missed having grandparents, but I am now one myself. My grandpa was in WW1, born in Vienna, Austria, and was a chef. He’s the only one I have a short memory of as he died when I was 4-5. My memory is sitting close to him and feeling his scratchy wool cardigan sweater on my arms. LOL My first introduction to wool! I love your shop and I love woolly wools! I’m so happy for you to be doing something you love and also has deep meaning and connection for you. You are a lovely lucky woman, and we your customers are so lucky too!🧶❤️

  • I have just begun this journey of knitting ~ dish cloths ~ cowls ~ headbands. My dream knitS would be shawls & sweaters ~ cardigans. I live in Abilene, Texas (west central) of Texas . I am allergic to wool so I need to learn more about yarns. Loved your story ~ also your shop 💐

    Emma LaRae Lambert
  • What an interesting story. Thanks for sharing it!

  • I love this story so much! My two favorite shops: yarn and books.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Jana Navratil
  • I like your grandfather story and thank you for sharing your childhood memories with us!

    Patricia Romejko
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