Here’s what pisses me off…the LQS has a punch card system of rewarding regular customers. Once you have purchased 50 yards of fabric at regular price, you have earned a free 5 yards of fabric. Nice eh? With fabric at $8.50 to $10 a yard it is a nice bonus for being a loyal customer. Well, it used to be. A few “bad” quilters used to save up their punch cards and then come in and redeem four or five at once. For a small shop, that really hits hard. So the owner decided to put a 30 day limit on using up your punch card. I don’t know about you, but I hate to be put into the position to “hurry” and pick out my fabric when I don’t have a specific project in mind. My stash has plenty of fabric that sits there unused because it was purchased without a plan for it. Both SB#1 and I have lost our five free yards because we were in the shop 4 and 5 days after our 30 day limit. We’ve also heard the same story from more than a few other quilters.
When this happened to me this week, I spoke with the owner. I suggested that customers only be allowed to redeem one punch card every 30 days to avoid the issue she’d had with the “bad” quilters. I pointed out that we want her business to stay open, but that the 30 day limit for the five free yards was limiting and unfair to loyal customers. I pointed out that SB#1 had recently purchased an expensive sewing machine from her (if that’s not loyal, I don’t know what is), and her five yards weren’t redeemed since she was 4 days late. Her excuse is that her prices are going up every week (yes – fuel costs are making life difficult for all of us) and if she lets us go past 30 days she’s losing money. What? How much money is she going to lose when frustrated customers start shopping online? I know on the few occasions that I’ve purchased fabric online, I have been very pleased and found it to be easy, quick, and in some cases, less expensive than my LQS. Again though, I do most of my shopping locally to ensure the LQS stays open.
Let’s be honest, our LQS owner is not known for being warm and fuzzy. I don’t let that put me off, but SB#1 and SB#2 were honestly scared off by her stern personality and wouldn’t shop there at first without me to accompany them. My boss showed us a video this year called “Give Them the Pickle!” It comes from the old Farrell Ice Cream Parlors. For years they gave customers free pickles, but then decided to start charging for them. One customer wrote the owner complaining and wondering where the customer service had gone. The owner realized that in order to keep the customer happy, he needed to go the extra mile and his mantra became “Give them the pickle!” It went back to the old idea in customer service that the customer was always right. Do any of you remember those days? It’s something that has disappeared in the American business community and it seems a shame that small local businesses seem to have forgotten the only way they can keep the customer from going to the big box stores is by offering exemplary customer service.
Unfortunately, this incident has left a very sour taste in my mouth. I have been attending monthly quilting marathons at the LQS, buying loads of fabric for the projects and always spending more money that night when I’m at the shop. We have one tonight and I committed to it last month so I feel like I have to go. I think it will be my last and I expect that I will be spending more of my quilting budget online and at other shops that are within a two hour drive rather than with my crabby LQS owner.
What do you think? Am I just living up my nickname of being a Stitchin’ Bitch?