Thursday, March 29, 2007

Knitting on Business

I'm in Vancouver, WA on business this week--highly unusual for me these days. I used to travel on business all the time, and loved it. Now, I'm lucky if I travel 2 or 3 times a year for business. Sad, really.

Anyway, here I am, traveling with another person from my company. Last night he wanted to go into Portland to meet family. I took the opportunity to go to Powells Books in Portland and, while I was there, went looking for a local yarn shop open late. Good news--there is one. Well, there are lots of shops in Portland, and one even had a book signing of Mason Dixon Books going on. But they all close at 5 or 6.

So, one open to 9. Woo hoo! I was so excited. I found it with not too much trouble, and couldn't wait to be among other knitters, playing with yarn. Hmmmmm....lots of yarn, even some knitters, no welcome, no warmth, nothing. There were two people working, a man who seemed busy but was friendly, and the cashier who spoke with her co-worker but never said a word to me during the payment process (yes, I did buy yarn, of course) until finally she responded to a question about how to find the bridge.

First off, it's a pet peeve of mine when I'm buying something and the cashier/salesperson is chatting with others or never speaks a word to me except to name the price. It happens in grocery stores, McDonald's lines, and sometimes yarn shops. It's as though we're hiring people with zero people skills to interact with the public. But I remember from owning my own business how important it is to engage your customers in pleasant conversation--actually I wanted them to come back! I read the other day that the most important aspect of sales is that you need to make the customer like you in the first 5 minutes to make the sale.

But I know I'm not mad at that cashier--I won't call her a salesperson because she wasn't. She was just there to take the money--not to care what I was buying, what I would do with it, why I had chosen those colors. She was just there to record the sale.

I'm really disappointed because I had such high hopes. I have traveled all over the country and stop at different yarn shops every place I can. And most times it's magical--far away from home I'm at home, surrounded by people with like interests. In Portland, I was just in a store buying something that would remind me of Portland. But maybe not in a good way.

Anyway, I bought a Mountain Colors pattern for "The Portland Hat." Got to have that for souvenir value, even though it's way too hot for Hotlanta, even in the depth of winter, and even though I don't wear hats because of hat head. Oh, well, maybe for one of the grands. Then, a skein of Great Adirondack Yarn sock yarn in the Bluebells colorway. Then Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Wild Raspberry. Finally, one skein of Misti Alpaca Lace in a gorgeous deep wine color. I think it will make a beautiful shawl.

I don't know why I didn't buy the Lacy Lamb yarn I saw there. I checked it out at Why Knot Knit? in Highland, too, but then it seemed I'd never need laceweight yarn. Last night, it seemed possible. But (another gripe coming) the store's lighting was so poor, that, at night, I couldn't tell what any of the colors really were. I carried the Misti Alpaca around for 10 minutes, checking out different light sources, trying to figure out whether it was deep red or chocolate. Finally, I decided I really didn't care--the yarn was going home with me.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

I feel the same way about customer service. Sometimes I wonder how store owners, like that yarn shop you went to, can hire people that are so rude! When I was worked in sales, you treated the customer like your best friend while they were in the store or you didn't make it as an employee. What's happened to customer service? It's just a simple courtesy, nothing hard about it. Maybe your post will wake up one or two salespeople.
Sheri in GA