Monday, March 14, 2005

So much is on my mind - - - I don’t know what to write about first. Maybe I’ll start you off with my complaints. Hey – I never claimed to be a Pollyanna.

I went to Philly last week, and I was really looking forward to visiting a large cross-stitch shop there. And with all of the Nashville market buzz, I was anxious to see some of the new stuff. I had a list of charts in mind, and I needed some bell-pull hardware and some frames. So, I drove about 40 minutes out of my way to get there. Well, I was sorely disappointed.

I didn’t find most of the newer charts I had in mind. Most of the spinner racks were half-full at best, and the racks on the walls near the models were in disarray. Half of the WDW threads I needed were not in stock. But that’s not the worst part.

Maybe it’s because I live in a small town, but when I visit a shop, particularly a specialty store like that, I expect to be greeted. I expect someone to ask me if I’ve found what I want or if I need help. When I entered, I was the only shopper in the store, and I wasn’t given a second glance. Not only was I ignored, but when I did ask a question, I was given a look like I had a third eye on my forehead.

Now I could go on about how I stewed and about other rudeness that I experienced there, but I won’t. It’s only so much kvetching. But here’s the thing. Most of us who own small businesses rail about the Big Box places. How they are driving us out of business. How insidious they are. And let me tell you, I’ve been boycotting WalMart for the past several months. But have you noticed all of the greeting going on? WalMart PAYS greeters to stand at the door. I was in a Bed Bath and Beyond the other day and every single employee who walked by me said hello. I know it’s not because all of the Big Box places hire friendly, outgoing staff. It’s part of a rigorous training program. (You had better say hello or else.) Big Boxes have learned that greeting people works. It puts the customer in a better mood, and a happier customer buys more and puts up with other inconveniences more graciously.

And here’s the other thing. I won’t drive out of my way to go to a WalMart. Or a Michaels. Or a JoAnn’s. But I will drive out of my way, (and after I’ve already spent 4 hours in a car), to visit a specialty shop. And my average purchase at a needlework shop is between $75 and $100. So for crying out loud, say hello! Ask me if I need any help.

Let’s face it. We all know that shop after shop is closing its doors. Consequently, customers travel several miles to get to your shop. For most of us, it’s probably a day trip. And it’s not an awful day trip, like a trip to the doctor’s office or something. But it’s a trip that we actually look forward to. We move things around in our busy schedules so we can get to that rare shop. So make it a nice experience. Lots of us browse the web for stuff. Maybe we make some online purchases. But as for me, I like to put together my list and drive to the shop to look at the actual, real chart. See the real-life fabrics and threads. And not all of those things that I thought I wanted actually pan out. So I’m open to suggestions. I’ll gladly substitute what I want for what you have. Just be nice! You may not know me from Adam, but I’m ready, willing and able to spend my money in your store. The $$ outcome of this visit is that I put back every single chart that I had in my hand. I was aggravated. And disappointed. And I didn’t walk in the door feeling that way. I bought a handful of threads and a piece of Jobelan. That’s it.

Ok, rant over. I feel better now. And I’m waiting for my mail order package from Theresa at Shakespeare’s Peddler. ‘Nuf said.

I finished this while I was visiting my parental units:
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