Monday, August 6, 2012

Craft Stores, and how I become a bad customer when I shop in them

So, since my friend Laura got me back into cross stitching a few years ago, I have found myself spending more time & money in craft shops than I have in years.  This is in addition to the specialty stores & websites that she & I both spend too much money with. (special shoutouts to, the Stitchin Post in Nashville TN, Needle Nest in Shelbyville KY, and Keepsakes up near Cincinnati OH) Here's my look at the other craft stores, where I/we buy all kinds of junk, most of which disappears into our homes and is never seen again. (I swear, I'm going to turn that falling leaf fabric into a pillow next week, really! Er, as soon as I find it again...)

Michael's: The cross stitch/needlework section in Michael's keeps shrinking. I got 'lucky' a few months ago and got some really expensive scroll-rods that they were discontinuing for about 1/4 of the list price. Never mind that I have NO idea how to use them- I got a bargain! Service is iffy here, they're constantly low/out of DMC flosses, but they do offer coupons and like I mentioned above, you can score real bargains if you're willing to look around a bit.

Hobby Lobby: I hate them. I occasionally go in and buy things when they run coupons in the paper, but I have NEVER gotten good service in any HL that I've been to. It's probably just as well, because they stock all kinds of baskets/boxes/knick-knacks that I'd spend too much money on if I liked them. The final straw for me was the night I ran in 30 minutes before they closed and an employee tried to keep me out. "We're closing in 30 minutes." Great, I need 3 skeins of emboridery floss and will be out of here in 5. "But we're closing in 30 minutes!" Move, or I go through you. Then, after I got in, grabbed my items, and ran back to the register, the cashier wanted to argue with me about the price on one that was on sale. She all but accused me of swapping tags with another item and held up the growing line with a demand for a price check. Turned out that I was right, but did she apologize? No.

Jo-ann Fabric: Love/hate. I love the coupons, and they turned out to be a semi-reliable source for my British cross stitch magazines after Borders Books closed. I buy way more of the fabric squares than I need-they'll be great for backing ornaments, really!  I HATE that the fabric coupons don't apply to the prepackaged needlework fabrics. (you should have been there when the teen twit cashier was trying to tell me that linen isn't a fabric.) Also hate that you have to watch the register carefully if you're buying items on the last day of a sale- they sometimes take the discount out of the system early and the staff won't say/do anything if you don't. Service is hit & miss here, but they often have multiple coupons and good clearance items.

Hancock Fabric: The cross-stitch supply aisle is a joke. They mainly offer Sullivan floss, but have a few DMC offerings. The prices on most of their decorative stock is ridiculous. The service at the one I've gone to has been so awful that I keep saying I'm never going back. The following email excerpt is a prime example:
Did I tell you about Hancock Fabrics? I wasn’t going to go there again, but someone on the board (the 123 stitch message board) mentioned that they were running Sullivan floss 5 for $1. Someone else added that their version of black is really good and they use it instead of DMC, but use DMC for everything else. I thought it might come in handy for stuff from that Halloween magazine, so I picked up 10 skeins. Hoping that lasts a while, because I got a reminder of why I hate that store while I was waiting in line. The couple before me had 3- that’s THREE- items and it took the woman 10 minutes to ring them up, bag them, and get them to sign their credit card slip. I put my floss on the counter, spread out so she could see how many there were, with the tag facing up so she could see they were all the same, and TOLD her why they were laid out like that. She proceeded to gather them into a big clump, and then tried to scan one at a time, but she kept losing track of how many she scanned. She tried to charge me for 13 and I damn near lost my mind. The manager came running when she heard me snarl for her to get a supervisor, and after scanning in 6 more that weren’t there, they voided the whole thing and started over. (the lady behind me was having quite a conversation, under her breath, with Jesus while this was going on) they finally managed to charge me the $2 for 10 skeins of floss, and the manager was trying soothe my VERY ruffled feathers, so they GAVE me the pack of floss bobbins I was going to buy. (my house has eaten all of the ones I thought I had again) I hand the twit $2.12 in exact change and she looks at it and says I owe her another 20 cents. Before I could say anything (and believe me I was going to), the lady behind me exploded. “how in the hell do you see exact change and ask for more money?!? Don’t you know what 12 cents looks like?!?” I’m betting she got a discount or freebie too. (sadly this was my second expereince like that at that shop, and it was an almost vebatim repeat of the first one, only I was trying to buy ONE piece of fabric that time)

I've worked enough retail jobs to know how badly they suck. I know there are lots of people trying to pull scams, and that retail staff is often underpaid and undertrained. But put me in front of a cashier who either doesn't know how to ring in items or bag them, or who gets argumentative about prices, and watch me turn into the raving psycho customer from hell. Let me ask someone for help to hear "oh, I don't know" (well GO ASK- and, YES, I know that's also code for 'I don't care') or have them act like I'm not there, and get ready for the asschewing of the century.

This is actually why I prefer to shop online. I may not be able to touch stuff, but I rarely have to argue with anyone about my purchase either. Well, except for that one site- there's a reason 123Stitch is now my preferred online needlework provider- but that was the inevitable exception.

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