The Lost and Found of Pleasantries

Because I spend a lot of time sewing, I’m in the fabric stores a lot. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two of them. This morning, for example, (and this is not the first time), when I walked through the door, both employees were sitting at a table chatting and didn’t even bother to acknowledge my entrance let alone ask me if could use any help. So, I scout out the store looking for a particular fabric that I need to complete an order that has a time deadline. Deadlines are particularly onerous as I live on an island and I always have to tack on a couple of extra days for a package to arrive in the mid-west or eastern part of the US and one extra day to California or the west coast. However, buyers seldom think about that and will purchase a hula skirt and then ask to have it arrive in three days to Kansas. So, though not in a bad mood (it takes much more than that), I felt slighted by the staff and therefore a little miffed. I just happen to think that if you are in the business of selling anything, your first concern is the customer. It wasn’t like the place was busy. When in the store I’m usually the only one there. I think I can hazard a guess as to why. When I found the fabric I was looking for, I took it to the table to be cut. Again, I wasn’t greeted or even offered a smile. My fabric was cut and I was sent to the register where I had to wait several minutes for the sales clerk to figure out how to work the new digital cash register. I’ve been coming in a few times a week for a month and at my first visit she was learning the ins and outs of her new machine. However, a month later, she still is unable to use it without asking for help. And, the help was chatting on her phone about personal things while I waited for her to finally help the hapless cashier. I’ve decided that as of today unless I have a 25% discount off of a fabric that I can’t live without, I will not be frequenting their store again.

Then, still feeling a little put out, I had to drive over the other fabric store for a certain fabric that I knew they had. I was greeted when I walk in, “aloha, how are you today?”. Smiles all around. “How can we help you?” The store had several customers. The staff was attentive without hovering. They cut my fabric, asked if I needed a bag, folded the cloth neatly for my bag. They commented on how nice it was to see me so often, thanked me for my patronage. I like this store and I will be coming back again and again.

Courtesy, good manners and pleasant conversation are not completely lost in this day of cell phones, iPads, texting and social media where a face to face conversation with eye contact is an oddity. My own business is an on-line shop so I seldom see what people look like other than their logo. But, I treat my customers with the utmost courtesy. I still believe that there is nothing better than good customer service. I establish a good working relationship with my buyers as I do a lot of custom work. We enjoy each others “company”. I guess the aloha spirit hasn’t quite made its mark on some, while others embrace it.

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5 thoughts on “The Lost and Found of Pleasantries

  1. I wonder if the owner of the first shop you went knows how much business his/her staff are losing them. It’s not hard to say hello or just catch your eye if they’re busy. You can see how the second shop was busier than the first!
    Re your postage problems. I know you talk about postage times under policies on your Etsy page, but I’m not sure how many people actually read these. Perhaps you should add a little comment re postage times on each item. A pain I know (why does it take so much time to load things onto websites? It’s my least favourite occupation) but it might stop unrealistic expectations.
    Malama pono (I hope I’ve used this correctly 🙂 )

    • Malama pono is perfect! And, you know, I never thought of putting a note saying that because I live on an outer island, it takes an extra day to Honolulu and then out to the Mainland. I’m sure that would help. Even Express Mail Overnight isn’t over night from here, it’s two days and costs a fortune, so I just get them in the mail as soon as I can and say a little prayer!

  2. I feel your pain. It’s why I shop online so much. When I go into JoAnn’s for something I need quick, I know I’ll need to budget at least 45 minutes just for waiting in line if I need something cut. They are horrible but my only choice for affordable and local. Michaels stinks (I have allergies) and I can’t find anything in there. Plus they are really pricey unless you have coupons. The second fabric shop you described sounds like heaven.

    • It’s funny but when I lived in Hilo we had the parent store of the first store and it was a jewel! The people were like family, especially since I was in the shop practically daily! But, they were helpful and courteous. I thought about dropping them a note. I think the two ladies are franchise owners, but they’ve certainly become complacent about giving good service. Maybe because there are only two fabric shops in town, then figure you have to go somewhere, but I’m choosing the other shop!

  3. What you say is all too true, and perhaps a lot of it is due to the digital and media age in which we live. My husband was conducting an initiation for a job at the college where he works the other day, and one of the people was texting the whole time.It isn’t that he thought he could be lost in the crowd either – there were only TWO of them! Stores are definitely worse, unless management insists on the personal approach. I hope more managers catch the need for the return to the person-to-person service.

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