Updated October 5, 2019.
I’m bothered by what is happening to needlepoint because of a lack of openness and customer service in so many of our shops.
From anecdotal evidence I’ve seen:
Shops charging to tape the edges of canvases for a customer, which gives them FREE ADVERTISING, just because only the threads were bought there. I have a newsflash for you, threads don’t have your shop’s name on them, the tape does. Get over that the canvas wasn’t bought from you, give away the advertising. Remember it’s good for you and cheaper than any other kind of ad.
Related to this is the shop that won’t sell threads for canvases bought elsewhere. Put on your big girl panties and take the thread sale. There are so many ways to buy canvases now. But even before eBay, guild auctions, and designers on Etsy, folks bought canvases when they traveled as mementos. Rather than carrying back the threads as well, they planned to buy them at their LNS. If my local shop turned down those sales, they would lose my business.
Shops not ordering a thread wanted by an existing customer even though the customer has contacted the manufacturer to be sure the thread is there and checking that there is no minimum. And the customer said she’d be willing to pay for the shipping. Talk about low-hanging fruit. This is a sale on a silver platter. If you are a shop don’t EVER pass up sales like this. In fact, do them first. In hard economic times every sale is important — why pass up an easy one? That customer might be lost forever.
Shops not answering emails when people want to buy things. A well-known shop has ignored two emails from me about getting a canvas the designer is holding for me in addition to some other items. Another easy sale. Even a “thanks for asking” we’re checking on it at least let’s me know they saw it.
I understand that running a shop is a matter of balancing resources, but in both the cases above, you have the sale! You may even have the money to cover the costs in hand. Why are you passing up the easy sale?
Shops scaring off people who want to learn needlepoint by making things complicated, insisting on expensive threads, or making someone feel second class because they don’t do Basketweave, are afraid of silk, or like plastic canvas. Can you really afford to turn off that stitcher? Shouldn’t you meet them where they are and move them forward?
Shops that charge an arm & a leg for stitch guides or classes. I know of one shop that prices guides by a percentage of the canvas price. But what if it’s a rug? Rugs are very expensive because of the size. But the stitch and thread choices are narrower because it’s a rug. The shop wanted over $1000 for the guide! Should your pricing structure as a shop be so narrow? Is your business so robust that you could turn down the rug canvas and thread sale because your stitch guide was expensive?
What we do, design, or sell is NOT ESSENTIAL. It is something every one of our customers chooses to buy with the money leftover from essentials.
In addition our customer base is aging. We need new stitchers. The young woman doing plastic canvas because it’s fast, cheap, and she saw the project on a hip craft blog may turn into a life long customer.
Can you afford to turn down the sale? Can you afford to alienate the customer? Can you afford to be a snob?
I thought not.