OK, I know it's a cardinal sin but I really don't like my local quilt shop.
When I first moved to my new home I thought it would be wonderful to have a quilt shop less than 5 minutes away. How handy it would be when I needed inspiration or had a little money burning a hole in my pocket.
I can't tell you how disappointed I was the first time I went in. It's not that the place is particularly terrible, it's just that it isn't the kind of quilt shop I'd hoped to find. The selection of fabrics is the main reason. I rarely ever find anything there that I want to buy. I don't know if it's that the store buyer and I have totally different tastes, or if my tastes are out of the mainstream of this area. It's probably a little of both.
I suspect that a lot of it has to do with me being out-of-sync with the other quilters in my area. I'm probably a bit of a quilter "freak" wherever I go, (here she goes again, complaining about not fitting in....), so it could be mostly my problem. However, it doesn't take away my disappointment that I can't enjoy my LQS. It's a real bummer.
At least my experiences there have only been disappointing in a fabric selection kind of way. I've had some experiences in other stores that have made me swear off of them forever. There was one store over in the East Bay that's very popular. When it opened years ago I had a nasty experience with one of the owners. I was waiting patiently in line to have my fabric cut and he ignored me completely, taking several customers ahead of me who it turns out were his "regulars." They had long drawn-out discussions about all kinds of subjects while I was waiting, and when he took another customer instead of me for the third time I piped up that "I was next." He looked right at me and said that I was mistaken, that this woman,(who had entered the store after I started waiting in line),was before me. Well, that was the final straw. I told him that I had never been treated so rudely in my life and left the store vowing to never return. Which I didn't do for several years, not until I heard that he had sold the business to someone else. What a difference! The new owners are friendly and helpful to everyone.
I've had experiences while traveling where I've been ignored in favor of "regulars." That seems to be the most common complaint I've heard from other quilters. It's like the store is more social club than retail enterprise. Some times when I hear quilt shop owners complain about the chains and the online stores taking away business I want to ask them how they treat ALL of their customers. Do their clerks chatter on with regulars and family members while other customers are waiting? Are they welcoming and helpful? Do they treat their jobs seriously, not just as a way to make a little extra cash or get an employee discount?
There are many well run quilting shops here in Northern California, shops where I can walk in every few months and be treated like they really want me there. The good shops keep going because of their customer service and the other services they offer. Fabric is cheaper online and at the big chains. Shops have to work at making going to the quilt shop more about the experience, and that means making sure their customers are having a pleasant one.
This phenomenon isn't just a female/quilt store thing. My husband is a fly fisherman and many fly shops have the same mentality. They have their regulars and ignore new customers. He's put down many an item and walked out for lack of service.
I'm sure that many of you have quilt shop horror stories too, I'd love to hear them!