This blog is inspired by a very frustrated customer who vented about her LQS charging her a late fee for picking up a kit for a BOM late. Apparently, the store allows people to pick it up for one day (and one day only!) for $5, and if they are unable to come in on that day, they are charged an extra $5. Her frustration was that she had paid for all of the blocks in advance, and was under the impression that by doing so, she would not be charged a late fee.
This post led to other people posting reviews of strange things their LQS has done, resulting in their loss of business. Some of these stories are down right strange. I would say 50% off the problem occurs because of poor communication skills on the stores part, and the other 50% is poor comprehension skills from the consumer. The other 50% (quilting math..makes total sense for us) is just...really strange behavior.
I can explain some of the strange thing...and some I will just list because they are funny .
So without further ado..
Strange Thing Number one: Your LQS will not allow you to bring your perfectly behaved therapy pet into the store.....therapy pet as in, not wearing the vest and ID that labels it as aid animal. Possible reasons are:
A. They are allergic
B. They have customers afraid of dogs
C. Another perfectly behaved therapy pet went and rolled around on the batting attached to their long arm, which meant that had to unload that quilt, rip out the quilting, and start over. Because of your perfectly well behaved dog.
D. another perfectly well behaved dog peed on their fabric. That dog, unfortunately did not have a credit card.
E. another perfectly behaved dog came in and barked at everyone when they moved around the store. Migraines resulted and the pharmacy was closed.
F. They are allergic, and have grown attached to breathing and not breaking out in a rash that requires a visit to the doctor not covered by their deductible. Yes. I know I stated allergic once already but it bears repeating!!!
Strange Thing Number Two: Your LQS has a Quilt Club or BOM program. If you show up at an assigned time and stay for the meeting, you get your kit for $5. If you donʼt, they charge $10. But you couldnʼt make it to the meeting for (your cousin died, you got bronchitis, your car broke down, it was too foggy to drive) and you donʼt want to pay the extra. Itʼs not fair!
A. They should provide you with the rules. They probably made you sign something in blood. (if they didnʼt...they will in the future.) If they have warned you ahead of time...be graceful about it.
B. Stuff happens..to everyone. We tell our participants to budget $10, and if they can make it to the meeting..spend the $5 on extra stuff! (or more..we like money. We buy fabric with it.)
C. $10 is still a good deal.
Weird Thing Number Three: My LQS is running a block of the month, but wants to auto bill it to my cc or debit card every month instead of letting me pick it up and pay cash. Why? Doesn't it cost them more money if they run it through my credit card?
A. They have done this before for another customer and got stiffed. B. They donʼt have time to call you and remind you to come in and pick up your block and pay.
C. They are investing the money earned from the BOM , and need the money to come in promptly in order to meet their deadlines for that investment. Since you want your LQS to grow..that is a good plan.
Weird Thing Number Four: My LQS discourages customers from using their bathroom unless they are there all day for a class. I drive a distance to get their, and I donʼt want to have to stop at McDonalds first to use their restroom.
We personally firmly believe people shop better when certain needs are taken care of and not imminent. Plus..we donʼt have a McDonaldʼs in our area. Having said that, I have heard some horror stories. So...
A: They found an unbelievable mess once. I will not describe it graphically. I personally wish I had not heard the description myself, but it was bad!!!!
B: Itʼs out of order. (I lived with an out of order bathroom for 3 months once. Yes. I changed buildings and landlords after that. For three months I had to lock the doors and run across the road to the public bathroom ever time I had the need. Still bitter and itʼs been 2 1/2” years.)
C: They ran out of toilet paper and donʼt want to admit it.
Weird Thing Number Five: I love the fabric choices my LQS gets, but they never buys the whole line! I wish they would. I would buy at least $200 worth.
A. The Whole Line is going to cost about $3, 528 to get in. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. That is not counting any pre-cuts or shipping.
B. There will be several repeats of the same fabric in different colors.
C. The best prints will sell ...fast.. the less popular ones will be put on clearance and maybe sell for what she paid for them (or less) . D. That is money she could have divided up and spent on some more lines and diversified the store.
E: If itʼs a bigger store, they have more buying power to do this. Smaller stores are building up to this. Their goal is to get it done in five years. The reality is itʼs going to take ten or 15 years to reach this goal. So be patient, and support them where and when you can and they WILL get there! If you want a LQS you gotta support the one around.
Weird Thing Number Five: It seems like the LQS are ALL about money! The kits for the shop hops cost money! For Row by Row you have to go into the shop to get the row! I canʼt drive! Fabric is expensive! All they want is money! (This is an actual rant I saw posted last year.)
A. Yes. We are about money, just not ALL about money. Personally, If I was in business to actually get wealthy, I would probably do something illegal. However, we need money to pay the electric bill, phone and internet bill, buy paper for the printer, pay employees, fix the machines when they break, buy stupid toner for the printer so I can print the free patterns, blah blah blah blah blah.
B: Yes. The fabric SEEMS expensive. Our mark up, however, is drastically different than the mark up and JoAnnʼs or Walmart. Plus have you noticed the fabric prices are creeping up to be about the same price at JoANNʼs as at our stores? So use your coupons for notions, buy fabric from us, because we help you with your quilting problems at the counter and they donʼt
.C. Again. Yeah...Quilt stores are a business, and part of a business is money. I have, however, considered turning my store into a Church/Cult. That way, instead of “purchasing” you would be “tithing”. I would not be paying taxes (religious exception) and we could all sit around in a circle, quilt, drink Kool Aid (not poisoned of course) and just pat ourselves on the back for finding a way to do this guilt free. Let me know what you think of this idea .
Weird Thing Number Six: Why do Quilt Stores Want you to buy things at their store during Shop Hops, or Row by Row, when they are giving away the kits , (or patterns) for free? I mean, we pay for the gas to get to their store, and travel some distance to get there. It is advertising for their shop (we can always come back later when we have more time and money) but we get the feeling some stores are disappointed when we just walk in, ask for the kit/pattern, and leave.
A. For the most part, it cost money to join the Shop Hops. Anywhere from $150 to $650 dollars to join, and then the expenses of running off the patterns, the fabrics, paying employees to cut and package kits, you get the point. They may have had to buy coordinating fabric as well. So...they may have $1000 invested at this point, and they would not only like to get that back, a profit so they can buy more stuff for the store! So when the first twelve customers walk in, talk about how cute your shop is, how they must come back someday, grab the pattern and go (and you donʼt see them until next year, on the same hop, and have the same conversation) you get jaded. They say “Thank you for doing this! “ and they ARE appreciative, which helps. I recently found out that most customers donʼt realize Quilt Stores PAY to join the shop hops. Letʼs spread that word! Every little bit helps us sponsor fun things like shop hops.
Weird Thing Number Seven. My LQS doesn't like for us to take pictures of Samples, patterns, displays or fabrics without permission. Why?
A. If we allow you to take a picture of a copy righted quilt, it is a violation of copy right law for us. In other words, it could come back to bite us on the rear end. If you offer to buy the pattern first, and then ask to take a picture of how we made the sample, we will be much more relaxed because then we know your intentions are NOT to make it without buying the pattern. And while itʼs true that you could go on-line, find a picture, and make it from that, that would be on you. If you take the picture in our store without the buying the pattern, some of the responsibility is on us. It gets hinky, we are small business owners, and none of us feel like getting sued.
B: Customers ask to take pictures of fabric all the time so they can come back and “buy it later when they have more time.” They never come back. They buy it online. We know it...you know it... How do we know this? Twenty to thirty pictures taken of fabric for a “come back and buy it later”, no returns for purchase. This is why we say no.
C: You aim the camera towards us and we really, really donʼt want to be in the picture. Not until we lose at least fifty pounds and get a face lift. Just saying.
Weird Thing Number Eight: We showed up early (30 minutes) at a LQS during a shop hop and the employees would not let us in. Why? They were there, we would have spent money but after waiting all that time I was so mad I didnʼt want to, what was the big deal?
A. They needed to get ready for the day. That mean, running more patterns, sweeping the floor, dusting the counter, final assembly for kits, making sure the bathroom had toilet paper......That is why the business has hours, and why owners and employees come in before those hours. To get things done and ready for the day. B. She was on the phone with her Sister who was having a very, very bad day and your knocking on the door demanding entry when all her lights were off and the door was locked quite frankly, took her stress level from an 8 to a sixteen. You didnʼt know this, but when you left (after she opened) and you glared at her the entire time while you grabbed the free pattern, she called her local 1-800- CAST-A-SPELL hotline. Thatʼs the reason your machine broke. Next time be polite.
C. If she let you in (while she was trying to do everything in A) others would follow. The kits would not get assembled, the floor would stay dirty, and she would spend the rest of the day playing catch up. Meanwhile, others (who were respectful of the hours) would wonder why she couldnʼt get it together and talk about how unorganized and frazzled the employeeʼs at that store seemed. And the floors were dirty!
Weird Thing Number Nine: I called a LQS during a shop hop as I was a few minutes (forty) away
from them, and wanted to see if they would stay open longer for me , as they were due to close in a few (5) minutes. They refused. Isnʼt that bad for business? I would have at least purchased a fat quarter.
A. A fat quarter does not cover the cost of minimum wage. So....there ya go.
B. Eventually, no matter how much we all love our jobs, we do want to go home. Sometimes we have to do unpleasant things, like cook dinner, go to the doctor, ice our arthritic lets, let the dog out before he wees on the floor....stuff like that.
C. Forty minutes might mean fifty or sixty. So if we leave at minute forty five, that means the next day we might run into an angry message on the answering machine. “I drove ALL the way to YOUR store And YOU had Left AFTER agreeing to STAY!!!! I WILL NEVER COME BACK! I”M GOING TO POST THIS ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA!!!! I CANʼT BELIEVE YOU WOULD BE SO RUDE!!!!” Yeah....thatʼs why.
Weird Thing Number Ten: My LQS seems hesitant to tell me exactly how to do/fix a certain quilt project. I canʼt always afford to take a class. (they are so much money!) and Iʼm on a fixed income. Besides, I watch a lot of Jenny Doanʼs Tutorials for free. But why are they so hesitant to help me out? Wouldnʼt that be better for business?
A. If itʼs a class...they are taking money away from the teacher. They want the teacher to have a full class because they she/he will be happy, make money, and come back. Your LQS will not choose to rip off anyone they have teaching for them.
B: You (and you may or may not recognize yourself in this) have a tendency to ONLY come in to the shop when you are struggling with a project. You have never purchases so much as a spool of thread at this store. Therefore, they are hesitant to spend forty minutes at the counter assisting you,(they could be long arming, sweeping, designing, folding fats, or watching Jenny or You Tube themselves) when they know they wonʼt see you again until the next Holiday open house when they are handing out free cookies.
C: Occasionally, we get customers who want our advice, but donʼt want our advice. We tell them their seams are not a quarter inch, but they tell us, “But I used my quarter inch foot!” If we donʼt know you very well, we may not know if you are one of “those” quilters. I have heard horror stories about customers who got so mad about projects they THREW the kit at the lady behind the counter. (I am guessing P.M.S was involved, or mental illness, but who knows.) Anyway..its hard sometimes, to give advice gently. So we tread with caution.
I did hear this really strange story. One LQS owner had a couple of ladies come in to her store and browse around, and then leave. On the way out the door she said, “How do you expect me to stay in business if you donʼt buy anything?” Honey. Sweetie. Witchy Poo. They donʼt care if you stay in business after that question. That is not their concern or problem.
As LQS owners it is our job to stay in business. It is our job to get the fabrics, be friendly, offer classes, offer classes, throw out our advice and encouragement, and generate excitement for the craft we love. This is our mission and it is why we are here. The money bit just pays for us to keep the doors open so we can keep doing it. If we are not nice to you...it wonʼt happen. Plain and simple.
Now...Since you have made it through this post I will reward you by posting some quilting tips. AND we have a free pattern attached. I call it “ Good Karma Quilting”
A. Donʼt pre-wash. There is enough laundry to do. If your worried about your colors running, wash the finished quilts with color catchers.
B. Use a quarter inch seam. Even with a foot this can be tricky! Make sure your not accidentally making it to narrow! If itʼs too narrow, or too “fat”, it adds up and caused you grief.
C: The best thing you can possibly use your JoAnn coupons for is rotary blades. ( I should NOT send you to JoANNʼs! ) But hey, selling blades is boring. Selling fabric is fun. While your at it. Invest in a 60% degree ruler. You can cut more fabric at once.
D: Notions are fun, but you donʼt need a ton of them to practice good quilting. My favorite rulers are the Omni-grid 6” x 24, 6” x 12”, 4”, and occasionally I use a 6 1/2” one as well. Do whatʼs best for your budget, but never let a lack of notions hold you back in the quilting department.
E: If you keep making the same mistakes over and over and over...take a break. It is so SEW so time for a break...
F: Tips for Squaring up Fabric before Cutting: (this is if your a cutting Selvage to Selvage) If your a newbie..you need to know this. If you have been quilting a few years, hopefully you already do! Iron the fabric. Fold, selvage to Selvage. The sides will be crooked...Donʼt try to straighten them. Line a folded edge up along one of the lines on your cutting matt. Cut one of the sides straight, using the line on your matt. TADA!!! Now you can use your ruler to cut nice straight strips! Tip!!!!!! Make your cut, put the rotary cutter down and hold down the fabric you cut from. Pick up and move the strip you just cut. That wayyou can just move over and cut another strip without having to re-straighten and trim your fabric.
Thatʼs it for now! Keep Stitching