Thursday, May 26, 2005

Aw, Shit

Due to a serious miscalculation, Laughing Boy suddenly finds himself with two arm and four leg pieces to go, and about five feet of Lang Yarns Jawoll Sport Superwash (colorway 0170) left. This will not suffice.

The shop where it was purchased is, of course, completely out of it. And while it has not been discontinued, it will have to be special ordered. I'm not worried about dye lots, as at least the pieces I've knitted are such that a shift in tone in the other pieces won't matter.

But still...

How did I let this happen? I always, always, always buy more than enough yarn to get me through a project. In this case, I distinctly remember standing in the shop with a calculator, and confirming that I'd not only bought enough, I'd bought enough to do something cute with the leftovers.

Pity the knitter who has never been much good at math.

To make matters worse, this yarn came from the shop owned by the notorious grouch. Which means that when I called to check on availability, I was treated to a little lecture on Why You Must Always Buy More Than You Need.

Why yes, thank you, how terribly enlightening. But I'd already caught on to that.

It makes me want to go elsewhere. Humiliation should not be part of this hobby.

To be fair, I have had good service there, on occasion. Sigh.

Before you suggest looking online, I did. No dice.

This teddy bear must and will be finished, so I'll go place my order this weekend. It will be worth it. What's already complete is looking mighty nice, if I do say so myself.

Notes for (Some) Yarn Shop Owners and (Some) Sales Staff

I'm getting very tired of having a lousy time in yarn shops, and of hearing that others have as well. We only seem to have one reliably pleasant place to shop for knitting supplies in Chicago (Arcadia Knitting) and to be honest, they're a little out-of-the-way for me to get to. It takes a subway ride and then either a bus trip or a long walk through a distinctly iffy neighborhood.

Therefore I'd like to offer the following suggestions to others (you know who you are) who might be in a position to scoop up the increasingly large amounts of money I am spending on this pursuit.
  1. A man who comes into your shop is probably not there to rape you, empty the cash register, or make off with your rack of notions. If he looks bored and is trailing a woman, offer him a chair in the corner and leave him be. Otherwise, why not try waiting on him?

  2. Not all customers are stupid. Just for fun, assume the next customer who approaches you has finished kindergarten. Even if he's male.

  3. Most customers do not ask questions just to annoy you. It may shock you to read this, but many of the people who enter your store know how to knit. Many even know lots and lots about knitting. However, unlike you, they are not congenitally omniscient in all matters related to knitting past, present, and future. This means that on occasion they will have to ask you a question in order to learn something new. Try not to sneer too much when you answer.

  4. Yes, some customers are stupid and rude. When after some interaction a customer reveals him- or herself to be of this ilk, by all means feel free to frog the idiot a new one. But do please revisit points 2 and 3 before jumping to conclusions.

  5. And finally, for yarn shop owners who would prefer that new or non-traditional (i.e., male, young) knitters keep out, because they do it all for serious love of the art and don't care if they make any money: Oh, yeah? Then why aren't you just giving the yarn away?


Rebekah Ravenscroft-Scott said...

Amen, brother! I'm so sick of the "you've got to be cracked in the head to own a yarn shop"! Every single shop in our area, and there are some wonderful shops, is owned either by crazy/funny women or crazy/mean women. What's up with that? The crazy/funny ones I can take, but they do put off new people, the crazy/mean ones are just stupid.

And, my pet peeve: why can't yarn shops hire people who actually know how to knit? The biggest store with the most yarn and (coincidentally, the worst, homophobic owner) repeatedly hires non-knitters, she herself is not a knitter. Money-hungry? You bet! The other shops just hire scarf knitters who can't read patterns, argh!!

thanks for letting me rant :)

Cher said...

Hee. I used to live in Chicago, and I (unfortunately) know whereof you speak. I've always had good luck @ Knitting Workshop, but then I used to practically *live* there so the owner got to know me (& my questionable taste) pretty well.

My favorite (?) yarn shop experience was the one where the proprietress started ragging on the poor quality of a customer's needlepoint as soon as the (very frail, elderly) lady in question
left the shop. Of course, this is the same lady who, when I said I knew what I wanted, said "Thank goodness. So few people do."

Slang said...

I hope that a few yarn shop owners read your post and take it to heart. It's not just yarn shops, though. It doesn't seem to matter where you are anymore, the level of customer service in most places keeps creeping lower and lower. It seems that when I get good, friendly service anymore I'm almost shocked.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with slang in that customer service at most places these days just rots. If it makes you feel any better, I went into a yarn shop for the very first time to try and find wool for my Itty's soakers and the lady said they didn't carry 100% wool because it's too scratchy. ?!? She suggested cotton.

I want to open a yarn shop. The thought has been occupying all my time recently but I'd be one of those owners that sir edwin so despises because I'm not a very good knitter... I'd just be in it for the love of yarn :)

Anonymous said...

My favorite yarn shop experience of all time was the one where I brought in one of my pattern books so I could consult it as I calculated out how much yarn I would need and perhaps get a little help. I walked in the door, pulled out the book from my backpack and proceeded to talk to the owner. It was a farily quiet day, and I was very polite. Still, she seemed extremely put out by my request for help, but I managed to get what I needed, thanking her very much for her assistance.

I picked out my yarn and brought it to the counter, and she began to ring me up when she noticed my pattern book again -- you know, the one we had been talking about and looking at together -- and asked me if it was mine. I said yes. Before she would finish ringing me up, she went around her tiny shop counting through her stacks of books in what seemed like an attempt to make sure I wasn't stealing.

I recognize that everyone has a bad day and some are harder than others, so I was determined to give her the benefit of the doubt, but subsequent visits have included pretty much the same thing. It seems to me that most yarn shop owners are the kind of people who can relate to inanimate objects of a fibery nature much more easily than they can relate to people (I have met more than a few tailors and seamstresses that fall into this category as well). Walking into a yarn store my usual feeling is that I don't belong, I'd better figure out what I need quickly, and stop intruding for Christ's sake! I can only imagine that this feeling is amplified if you are a man.

Anonymous said...

You could always knit parts of the bear with a different type of yarn and give him knit on clothes like a shirt and pants or something or come up with an artsy way of using another yarn with what you got like with stripes in the body and part of the arms and legs. That may require some frogging but may make the yarn you have go further and with your artistic eye could be fun. : ) I ran into this with a pair of socks I was knitting? ugh.

Anonymous said...

Rachel's comments about the yarn shop owner who relates to yarn better than to people made me think of librarians. I have encountered many in high schools who like books better than the students who come in to borrow them. This could be part of why I don't like libraries even though I like books.

Anonymous said...

I've worked mostly in some form of retail over the decades. I really enjoy the almost instant feedback as a buyer and almost always enjoy assisting customers in finding what they want, or the unexpected. Unlike some fields, the changing seasons and trends mean there is always more to learn. A wise bookstore owner, (of a great, independent bookstore) often reminded potential employees that it isn't enough to love books, one has to like people, too. There are obnoxious and ignorant customers, of course, but as long as I'm working with something I love--books, yarn, plants--I can deal with them, make some snarky comments to my inner demons, and move on. I do harbor a fear of being the idiot customer when it comes to purchasing stuff I am ignorant about--plumbing supplies, car stuff.

Unknown said...

Excellent check list of customer service, but I'm afraid it will fall on deaf ears.

The yarn store owners to which this description applies, don't realize it (they really are crazy, I think), and the ones that aren't know that they're not already (because they're smart).

I do have to say, that yarn stores make very little profit without a significant effort. Most of the yarn store owners I know did it more as a hobby than a serious business.

Anonymous said...

Too true - the one "real" yarn store (as opposed to Michaels or A.C. Moore craft stores) that is within driving distance from my house has sales people who think it is a total imposition on their so-valuable time to answer questions/ring sales/check stock. I try very hard not to go there unless it is an absolute necessity. They don't even have a good selection of needles or tools! I would far rather do mail order from places I do like, such as Patternworks - better selection, and the staff is SO nice on the phone. The same negatives can unfortunately be said of the yarn store in walking distance my office in NYC...

Anonymous said...

How I wish you could visit the TWO yarn shops I've been to (so far) in England. There aren't many, so the owners are wonderful to talk, learn from and give some new insights :)


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