Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What To Do When Your LYS Snubs You




It's surprising to me just how many knitters I speak with, whether online or in person, complain about their LYS.  Recently, I had another such conversation with a group of knitters via an online chat.  One knitter expressed how she only has one local yarn shop in her area and is made to feel very uncomfortable when she visits the shop.  Another knitter expressed how there are many shops in her area and how she loves each one for different reasons and different supplies, but that several of them treat her like dirt if they find out that she's bought her yarn elsewhere.  And yet another knitter was bemoaning her LYS questioning her about the needles & yarn she had because they were purchased online and were obviously not from that shop.  Nevermind that this knitter spends quite a bit of money at that shop, apparently they feel she should only buy things from THAT shop.  So what do you do if you find yourself in this predicament? Drop 'em like a hot potato - that's what!

Okay, I hear the gasping and the jaws dropping.. But, KnitPurlGurl, our LYS is our lifeline, our community..  Not anymore.  Here's the thing.  I regularly shop at Target, Kohls, Old Navy, Macy's, et cetera.  At NO time have I had any one of them give me crap about shopping at another store.  And to put this in terms for small business: I've shopped at my local hardware stores, of which we have 3, and no one is whispering at True Value that they heard I'd visited Ace Hardware.  And no one at Ace is giving me the stink eye because I've shopped online for 3/4" bolts.  Let's get real here, people.

Local Yarn Shops are quite the conundrum.  These shops provide something that many online or big box stores cannot: a place to commune with fellow knitters and look at/touch products in person.  They can be the mothership, if you will, or they can be a place that you dread visiting.  Here's my take.  In my area, there are several yarn shops.  I think they all have something unique to offer.  If I have a LYS get mifted, or snub me because I haven't be able to visit (don't get me started on my car issues) or because I visited another LYS, then I can't be bothered with them.  Google+, Twitter, Ravelry, podcasting, & Facebook have given me a knitting community that is always in place online.  I can pop on Plurk and ask if anyone wants to participate in a VKN (Virtual Knit Night) when I have a spare hour, and usually there's someone who is available.  OR I can pop on Plurk and see that someone is hosting a VKN and pop in to chat (on webcam) with them while knitting.  It's wonderful!  As for knitting together in person, in this day and age, all one needs is a computer.  You can Facetime, Skype, or Hangout on Google+ virtually, OR you can search Ravelry, Yahoo Groups, Meetup, or your local guild to find groups that meet at various coffee shops or cafes weekly.

Years ago I wrote a post called, "Advice to Local Yarn Shops."  I had posted it for the very same reason. There were a few LYS that were driving me bananas.  It's been almost 4 yrs since I wrote that post and you know what?  Knitters are still complaining of the same issues.  Sometimes it's CROCHETERS complaining because LYS haven't figured out that crocheters are hungry for a home too AND that they use YARN!  Go figure.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't want this post to come off as a way of bashing all LYS.  BUT I do want knitters to realize that if your LYS treats you like crap - DON'T spend your time and $$ there.  Life is too short!  Time is too short!  And everyone is short on money!  A terrific LYS can be a knitter's best friend; a welcome respite from the housework, endless responsibilities, and the daily grind.  If you have a great LYS, I'm thrilled for you!  If they never make you feel like an intruder, like a criminal for shopping elsewhere on occasion, or snub you for liking several shops, than you should embrace that shop and do what you can to promote a responsible and awesome business owner.  And owners: if you are guilty of these things - get over yourselves.  Instead of trying to guilt customers into being repeat customers, use your time and energy to show them WHY they should be repeat customers.  Don't balk at customers with needles purchased online. Don't pout when a customer is at knit group and mentions she bought a skein of yarn at another LYS.  Treat your customers like royalty and they will naturally seek to visit your establishment most often.

The reality of today is this: Knitters and crocheters can and do meet up for knit groups that are organized online in a variety of locations that are NOT LYS.  Knitters and crocheters can meet up virtually with a webcam, and join knit group in their jammies!  If your LYS snubs you, don't fret over it.  And don't continue to throw money at them.  Find a local group or start hanging out online with your web cam.  You can still be a part of this vast and amazing community with just a click of your mouse! :)

Knit on!



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20 comments:

  1. Thanks. I feel a huge amount of guilt when it comes to LYSs. When I first learned how to knit I grabbed cheap needles and awful yarn from hobby lobby and taught myself. When I decided that I wanted to splurge my hobby I went to my LYS (now closed and I've since moved) and bought some yarn. When I sat down and pulled out my WIP I was told that it was rude of me to knit with stuff I hadn't bought there and that I would not be getting any help on projects with outside supplies. I haven't sat down to knit in a LYS since. I support them by buying yarn when I want to buy something nice for myself, but I have a stash of yarn built up from all over the place and I knit a lot of toys that I want specific colors for (so I like the easy selection online) I can't be worrying about what project is in my bag when I get a chance to sit down and knit so I knit with other people in other places.

    I appreciate your post, because I don't think that a lot of our community feels that is acceptable. It is nice to be reassured that you don't have to be in an exclusive relationship with your LYS.

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    1. That's horrible! To that comment, I would've said, "So, do you only wear clothes to Macy's that you bought AT Macy's?" What an ignorant thing to say to a potential customer!

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    2. This is exactly what I don't get...why would you NOT be nice to someone who might turn into a customer?! My general impression is that there are not zillions of knitters out there so knitting stores are swamped!

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  2. i absolutely vote/support with my dollar. meaning, i take my business elsewhere if i'm unhappy, not just at yarn stores but anywhere. i have heard the same sort of complaints from others, and only experienced it once in person... a couple of years ago, i was visiting an out-of-town yarn shop which is quite famous in knitting circles, and i asked if i could blog about them. the person behind the counter just rolled her eyes and said "oh we get blogged about all the time" and left it at that. okayyy...

    i don't understand why this sort of thing is common. i think it may sometimes be in part due to sensitivity on the shopper's part. if she or her is not too terribly confident about their knitting or project or whatever, they may take a comment personally. but at the same time, LYS staff has to understand this about their customers, and if they want to create an inviting space, they have to be, well... inviting, warm and supportive. that can be a huge difference in what sets them apart from other shops, especially those online. i dunno... i never understood snobbery, in highschool or now. clearly, this is a topic about which i had more to say than i thought! :)

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    1. I ran into this online. I friended a famous LYS shop owner on Ravelry. When I realized that's who she was, I asked if she was the owner of X-Y-Z shop and her reply, "Who else would I be?!" Ridiculous!

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  3. I can't agree more! Well written.

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  4. I just found my LYS. It's 2 hours away (but only 20 mins from my vacation home). Felt right at home from the minute I walked in the door, unlike the place that used to be closest to me. I always felt like they were pushing me out the door. Hmmm. I wonder why they closed? Anyway, the new shop is on FB and Ravelry. I'm set.

    And why didn't I think of VKN before this? *rme*

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  5. Love my group of friends at my LYS, so I continue to go. Really dislike that we were chastised for saying the "W" word there, if you know what I mean. Hope you get car issues settled and can come to knitting group again!!!

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  6. I couldn't agree more. Being allergic to wool and having an LYS that thinks it's a crime has been an issue for me. I've gotten a lot of dirty looks when I walk in wearing hand-knits from them. Seriously? I can understand them not necessarily carrying a lot of non-wool stock. But they've taken several custom orders from me but never delivered any of them - nor informed me of issues. When I've called to check on it - I've been told 'it's on it's way'. But it's been two years now. I'm pretty sure it's not.

    I'll save my money for the yarn I can use and for the companies that provide decent service.

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  7. This is soooo true! I am fortunate to have 4 shops within 20 minutes of my home. Sadly, the one closest to me has a reputation (earned) for being rude to customers. My family members bought me gift certificates there for my birthday last year and when I went in to redeem them, I was treated like I was getting away with something !!!???? Luckily, I have choices, and I choose to spend my $$$$ at places who really WANT my business. I used to own a teaching doll shop and I knew that it was impossible for me to carry EVERYTHING that my customers may want, and I never made them feel badly for buying something elsewhere, and always let them know how much I appreciated them. Go figure!

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  8. Just stumbled on this site via facebook & found your post very interesting - Having taught knitting & crochet over the years, finding a good LYS is always a hot topic for discussion. We only have a couple "specialty" yarn shops in our area but I refuse to refer or recommend the "Yarn Nazi's" shop - The previous owner was quite grating & this gal's even worse - Owner #1 proceeded to tell one of my students that I was teaching her all wrong & that she should knit "her" way - Needless to say, I had to straighten her out - I don't even bother with Owner #2 - not worth the hassle - I'm glad I've found you & will look forward to future posts -

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  9. On the other side of the coin I was good friends with someone who owned a LYS. She constantly had people wandering into the shop and asking for help with patterns,they weren't patterns bought there, they weren't using yarn or needles bought there, in fact they had never bought anything there and were expecting her stop everything and sit down for half and hour with them. Then there were the "gropers" who would come in and grope all the yarn to see what it felt like then turn around and buy it online because it was cheaper. Or the people who would come into the knit group and eat the free cake and drink the free tea and coffee and NEVER buy anything because "it's so much cheaper online, oh and have you tried xyz online store, they have such bargains". It is no wonder that some store owners can get upset with this sort of behaviour when it is happening more and more. It's easy to be cheap when you don't have a bricks and mortar store.

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    1. I can completely understand that. Unfortunately there are some people who just like to take advantage of freebies, however, I find them to be few and far between. I had one yarn shop get ticked off if everyone who came to knit group weren't using yarn and needles purchased there. I think as long as the people at knit group are consistent consumers, it doesn't matter. Also, I think it a LYS finds that there are a lot ppl who come to knit group have never purchased items there, they can institute a small fee for knit group. I've seen yarn shops do that as well.

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  10. I don't even know what to say. I've heard of this snobbery and I do know there are some people who take advantage. I have a huge lack of close LYS's. SO I haven't experienced the snobbery and issues that some of the others have. I'm so sorry that this happens.

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  11. I am a LYS and I agree with your post, for the most part. I had the unfortunate experience of having a customer tell me I should not help folks who purchase yarns elsewhere. "I should not waist my time with them" was her proclemation. I politely told her this was not the case here. We do help folks as best we can no matter where they purchased their yarn. (If the help is extreme, we recommend a class.) She continued on her rant all the time knitting on a project from a competing yarn store. I finally cracked, after a good lenght of beratement on the subject, and said, "but you are knitting with yarns purchased at XYZ and you are very welcome here." She was so insulted that she will not return and continues to bad-mouth my shop around town. Go figure. I hope cutomers realize that LYS' are human too. We have bad days, we get frustrated, we get treated poorly all to often and take it most of the time with a smile. We have folks take advantage of us. We pick up their trash, clean the bathroom, and listen to stories of their colonoscopies even if they bought their yarn across town. So, please give these LYS' another chance.

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    1. Very good point! You sound like the kind of LYS I'd love to visit!!! But yes, you are right - people should give their LYS a second chance, because we all deserve a second chance. Unfortunately, many of the people I spoke with have given their LYS years and lots of money and still are treating unfavorably. Every owner of a LYS could take a cue from you.

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  12. Amen! You're preaching to the choir.
    They all carry different yarns....Go figure why they get their panties in a wad when you purchase a yarn that they don't carry from another LYS.
    I absolutely refuse to blacken the doorway of one LYS after the snitty attitude I have repeatedly gotten because I would NOT buy a set of Denise needles. I wanted metal; but the clerk said that she did not have a Skacel Addi set to show me. So.....I purchased a set of Knit Picks on-line. So there!
    BTW, LYS, if you never have sales, I just might buy the yarn you do carry for a lot less on-line.

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  13. I live just outside of Portland, OR, and have two LYS near me. I never feel comfortable going into one of them because I always feel like I'm inconveniencing them when I have a question.

    The other store I went to once and got a yarn snobbish response when I asked if they carried a certain brand. I did, however, give them another try and found them to be a bit more friendly. One night, at a knit night, there were so many people there that I had to sit on the floor in front of the book shelf. One woman decided that it would be easier for her to tower over me (instead of me moving) to put a book back up on the highest shelf. What resulted was the book falling on top of my head minutes after she walked away. The response from the staff? Nothing. Not even a sorry from the other woman.

    While I enjoyed meeting some people at that yarn shop during knit nights, it has gotten so big that I would find myself at the back of the group with no one to talk to or getting a book dropped on my head. It's been a couple of months since I've gone for a knit night.

    Portland, on the other hand, has some great stores and they don't seem as snobby. One, in particular, has friendly staff, comparable and competitive yarn prices and decent priced classes. I guess I'll just have to venture into the city, which I don't mind at all!

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