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Jonathan wearing a mask, poking his head through his knitting item display

Small Business Recovery Spotlight: MJYarns

  • The Market Foundation
  • |
  • Pike Place Market

Jonathan Berner is the man behind the magic at MJYarns, offering hand-dyed wool and alpaca yarn in Pike Place Market’s very own craft market since he moved to Seattle in 2018.

When the Market shut down due to COVID, Jonathan moved MJYarns online and was able to push through the closure for the first months by selling through his website. “I just ran sales online and kept myself going, kept paying the bills, but that’s obviously not a survivable long-term strategy,” recalls Jonathan. “You only have so much inventory that you can sell.”

In the Fall of 2020, Jonathan learned about the Market Foundation’s Small Business Recovery Fund and decided to apply for a grant. He was able to work with staff at The Market Commons, who encouraged him to think beyond the current crisis about ways he could build up his business for long term stability. He decided he would purchase knitting machine equipment, something he normally wouldn’t consider investing in. 

 “The grant really was a perfect situation for me to experiment without having to risk my business or my livelihood,” says Jonathan. “In the scope of business, $5,000 really isn’t that much, but in that particular moment in time when the whole world had just collapsed… That was not a moment where I would have felt comfortable giving up that kind of money on an experiment. But I’m really glad I did.”

The knitting machine and subsequent production capacity have already proven to be a tremendous success, with December sales surpassing pre-COVID numbers and opening business up to expanded manufacturing opportunities. 

“Given current sales trends, I’m estimating that this product alone will add $20,000 a year in sales,” Jonathan reported. “Once I finish developing more products, I think it’s conservative to say I will add $50-100K in annual sales to my business.”

In this way, the intentional guidelines of the recovery grant allowed Jonathan to invest in his business tenfold, acquiring equipment that will increase his capital year after year. “I can’t tell you how excited I am!” Jonathan remarked, “I don’t think I ever would have made the investment in the equipment, it was just too much money to risk. I can’t really thank you enough for giving me the chance to take that risk and discover what a wonderful return on the investment it was!”