Congratulations Yarn Bar!

Fiber loving business named Montana’s Woman-Owned Business of the Year

Stepping into Yarn Bar nestled into a quiet corner of downtown Billings, you are immediately hit not only with an explosion of color, but two friendly faces who can’t wait to tell you all about their love of yarn and all the different things you could create with one of the thousands of skeins inside their shop.

It’s that passion that landed Sue Baker and Linda Heins with one of the Small Business Administration’s highest honors — Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year for the state of Montana. The award is given to a business that’s at least 51% woman-owned with a successful track record and a commitment to strengthen other women-owned businesses in the community.

“It hasn’t really sunk in, honestly,” says Sue. “I think in a way it is recognition of our expansion and our move downtown. It’s a huge honor, a great big pat on the back.”  

The pair was nominated by the Billings Small Business Development Council through Big Sky Economic Development. Yarn Bar has partnered with the SBDC since its humble beginnings six years ago. The guidance it received helped the boutique yarn shop not only weather the storm of the pandemic, but to expand. What started as a 900 square foot shop off Grand Avenue in 2017 has grown to a roughly 2,000 square foot store with more space for inventory and classes.

Above the growth and success, Linda loves the community she and Sue created.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, we make people feel like they are already a part of the shop,” Linda says. “It’s so exciting to see people gather. It’s a community. It’s a total community for us.”

Lorene Hintz, the SBDC’s regional director, says it was the pair’s dedication, creativity and resilience that got them noticed.

“I’m so proud of Linda and Sue,” Lorene says. “The sense of community cultivated by Yarn Bar encourages artistic expression and creativity, making it a cherished hub for craft enthusiasts in our area.”

As a part of National Small Business Week, SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman will be making a trip to Big Sky Country. It’s one of four stops she’ll make on her roadshow tour. During the trip, she’ll be paying a visit to Yarn Bar to see Linda and Sue’s enterprise firsthand.

“We asked if she was a knitter,” Sue says with a laugh. In all seriousness, Linda adds, “We are excited, not only for the award, but also the fact that she will be here in the shop. It elevates the excitement.”


More from YVW