Guest Author - Marjorie Colletta
If you are fortunate enough to have a local yarn shop or two then you might have some questions about what is okay and what is not okay when shopping or joining a knitting group there. And if you are a yarn shop owner you might be surprised at what customers like and dislike. If we keep in mind that there are two sides to every transaction and also remember to exercise all of the rules of polite behavior yarn shopping is delightful, fun, and rewarding for all involved. Misunderstandings arise when customers feel that shops are overcharging and donít offer any more service than the big craft stores or discount internet shops. They also arise when shop employees and owners feel that customers are purchasing most of their yarn elsewhere, but coming to the shop for free help and advice. Therefore, I have searched some discussion forums, asked other knitters and yarn shop employees what they are comfortable and uncomfortable with about each other.
What Yarn Shop Owners and Workers Hope For:
Enjoy what the shop offers
Please donít eat or drink in the shop unless invited to by owner
Often the shelves donít carry all of the stock, but only a sample, so be sure to ask if the shop has more of the yarn you are interested in the back
If you have a hank of yarn needing to be wound into a skein, but you didnít purchase it at that particular shop, ask if they offer winding services, but be aware if they are busy or if the shop only has one person on duty they may not be able to help. Also it is possible they may charge for the service, it depends on the shop.
If a shop is busy and you need help customizing a pattern be aware this is a time consuming project and it may be better to ask for an appointment rather than monopolize the attention of the staff. Also many shops have hours set aside for problems such as these and have staffed appropriately and have a fee schedule if you have not purchased the pattern there or do not intend to purchase the yarn there either.
What the Customer Wants
To enjoy what the shop offers
Help with adjusting patterns and choosing yarn
To be treated with respect and dignity, whether buying cashmere or acrylic
State your shop policy about knitting with yarn purchased elsewhere. Some shops have areas set aside for knitting and have become community gathering places, but customers are often unsure what it is okay to knit there. So a clear policy will keep everyone happy.
If a customer is looking at a specific yarn, but is having trouble choosing, enlighten them about other color ways offered that you may not have in stock, but could order.
Winding yarn from hanks to skeins.
Value for what they purchased, if they just want yarn they can go to the internet or discount store, but they are generally willing to pay a bit more for the camaraderie and customer service of a yarn shop. If they are not treated kindly or with dignity and respect, they will take their business elsewhere.
Customer service is important to shoppers just as being treated with politeness and respect is equally important to employees and owner of the shops. On the other hand most people work in yarn shops for fairly low wages and donít like being asked for free help and treated poorly either. It is nothing more than a typical retail dilemma, ďIs the customer always right?Ē Sometimes yes and sometimes no, but a happy customer is more likely to become a repeat customer if they have a good experience in your shop. A miserable rude customer is not entitled to walk all over the employees, but hopefully they are in the minority.
Yarn shopping is a fun way to spend time and yarn shops are enjoying a resurgence and becoming communities of interested parties. Let us all continue to enjoy what each has to offer and knit on!