I live in the largest city in the United States. We have almost anything at our fingertips. There isn’t one thing you can’t find here. (Well, there is, but that is another post) However, when I began my sewing adventure, I realized that fabric stores are really hard to come by around here. There is ONE in the specific area where I live, but it only sells fabrics for Sarees. I did find two stores about 20 minutes away. They are independent/local businesses. Otherwise known as mom and pop stores. They are priced higher than a big chain I will compare them to later. The selection of fabric isn’t as great. Rarely do they have sales and no coupons here! So off to Google I go to find that large fabric and craft store chain that is nationally known. To my regret, the closest Joann Fabric and Crafts is in Long Island! A good 40 minute drive away with no traffic! (which there always is in New York) Don’t get me wrong, I like Joann for certain reasons: large selection of fabrics, lots of sales and if you get on their mailing list, you get a ton of coupons! Perfect for a person bit by the sewing bug. Yet, my last two visits have left me a little……displeased.
Once, I went to get materials to make my first hand bag. The help was nice, except for one thing. When I asked for batting, I was given interfacing instead. I didn’t know any better, but my sewing teacher taught me the difference. HUGE DIFFERENCE! A few days later, I headed to my local fabric store and purchased some batting. After seeing it and feeling it for the first time, I must say, that Joann employee had no idea what she was talking about!
After I finished my handbag, I wanted to make a similar larger one. I didn’t have time for a 40-45 minute drive, so I headed to my local Fabric store, Sew Right. The employees were so helpful! I wanted to add some embellishments onto this bag and she helped me pick
out everything I needed and what materials would be best for these additions. When she cut my fabric, she used a rotary cutter to make sure it was cut straight, and when she had just less than a 1/4 yard left of fabric,she gave me that portion for 50% off instead of selling it to someone else as a scrap. It was so nice to have someone take the time to work with me,my ideas,and offer their opinion. I left very happy.
Yesterday, I was in Long Island for our MOPS meeting. I needed some fabric for a project for a friend. And I knew they had that specific fabric whereas my local shop did not. So, off to Joann I go with an almost 2 year old in tow.
Now, normally, Erin is quite good in stores. She’s helpful and patient. But this trip was a different story. “Walk?”, “Cart?”, “Sit?”, “Thread?” She was entertained alright, just not in the helpful way. I finally get my fabrics and bring them over to get cut. NONE of the employees were very friendly. It seemed like their job was the last thing they wanted to be doing that day. They weren’t very nice to my child either. Erin wasn’t in their way at all. All of them looked like they were way beyond child bearing years, so I’m sure most of them have some grand kids at least. She cut my fabric with barely any words, but when I asked help to find the interfacing I wanted, she said, “No, its over there, find it yourself.” Here I am, on the verge of yelling at my child for not cooperating in a store, trying to be cordial to an employee who is getting PAID to supposedly help me and then refusing to do her job. I’m lugging my purse and a diaper bag around, a cart that doesn’t fit down ANY of their aisles and trying to keep a toodler from tossing out EVERY SINGLE SPOOL OF THREAD FROM THEIR SHELF! I was about to lose it in a not so nice way. I took 1 minute to look on my own. I then came over and said firmly, “I could really use your help finding this. I am trying to keep track of 10 different things while looking at a list and keep my child’s hands to herself. It will get my child and I out of your hair sooner if you just help me.” She came over and did. I half heartedly apologized and explained how very frustrated I was at the situation I was in. She rolled her eyes and said, “I see your frustrated.” The only nice thing about my trip today was that the cashier let me keep my stuff at the counter after paying so I could take my child to the potty.
I’ve always liked and wanted to support local businesses, but when it comes to cost, I usually go for cheaper. From now on, I think I will never step foot in my not so local Joann again.