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Angst at a craft store seems out of place

October 23, 2009

Normally, I love shopping at craft stores, especially in the fall and winter.  I love smelling pine and cinnamon as I walk through the door.  I love seeing the dried flowers and baskets and fabric and decorations and crafts that people use to help transform their house into a home.

So I’m not happy to report about the unhappy atmosphere I’ve encountered at the same store in the last two weeks.   I think that when grumpiness hits a craft store, something’s seriously wrong.

My saga started last weekend, when I was looking for lamp shades.  A couple years ago, I’d found a really attractive lamp shade at that store, and for a good price.  I felt good about my purchase and the people who helped me at the cash register.  So last weekend I walked into the same store, hoping to bring home another good find.

I discovered that the store stopped carrying lamp shades.  But I happened to find a lightweight hoodie on sale that I thought one of my sons could use.  So I got into line near the checkouts, where maybe six people were waiting and one cash register was open.  Another cashier arrived and started calling for the next person in line.  But the next person I saw in line wasn’t moving, so I started telling people in front of me that another register opened.

Finally, a few people before me did go to the open register, but soon they stopped.  I was confused, so I walked up to the open cash register.  Finally, it was dawning on me that I must have entered the line in the wrong direction, so I said to the cashier, “Was I out of place in line?”  She curtly replied, “Yes.”   I felt crummy, but I knew my heart was in the right place.  I wasn’t trying to jump the line.  There was no sign to inform customers where to enter the queue, and I was encouraging everyone else before me to use the open register.

So I decided to brush off her ungracious tone.   My son liked the hoodie, and my husband thought it was just the right weight for a hoodie that he was also looking for.  So a couple days later, I decided to try the store again.  I bought him a hoodie.  But he has a long torso and long arms, and the hoodie I bought for him was just too short, so I went back to the store today to return it.

This time, there shouldn’t have been any issue with lines.  There was a special customer service desk for returns.  A big sign behind the customer service desk said the store prided itself on its “No Hassle” return policy.   So I walked on up.  The woman behind the counter asked me what I was returning, then she curtly told me: “You’ll need to get in line.”  I was taken aback at her tone, so I said, “Please?!”  in a tone that conveyed, “I’m sure you meant to add that to your sentence.”    But I got in line and waited.

Finally, it was my turn, so I went to the next available cashier.  I told her I had a return, but she wouldn’t help me.  “You’ll need to go to the customer service desk.”  I said, “I was there, and I was told to get in line!”  She said, “Well, then you’ll be next at that line.”

So I saw drill sergeant again at the same desk where I’d encountered her a few minutes earlier.   Then she asked me, “Why are you returning this?”  I replied, “I thought your store had a ‘No Hassle’ return policy.”   She said, “We do.  We just like to know why.”   Normally, I don’t mind telling stores why I’m returning an item, but with this person, I didn’t feel like my usual talkative self.

Then while I was waiting for drill sergeant to debit my credit card account, a lady maybe 20 years older than drill sergeant approached the desk to return something.  The cycle began anew.  Drill sergeant told her, “You’ll need to get in line!”  The lady meekly ignored the rude tone and said, “Okay.”

I was appalled at the poor customer service at this store.  It left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I no longer saw the dried flowers, baskets and decorations. I no longer smell the cinnamon and pine.

The special atmosphere of the craft store was gone.

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4 comments

  1. It’s sad to lose a good feeling about a store. An experience like this leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The first thought that came to my mind was, Don’t they know that times are tough and they need customers? The next thought I had was, What is going on there that the salespeople are so unhappy? I hope they get things straightened out for your sake, and also for the sake of the people who work there.


  2. Isn’t it amazing how a poor mood/attitude is so infectious? These types of encounters can stay with me for far too long. It makes me also realize the impact my mood/attitude has on others, even if I’m not in a retail setting.

    I hope you find a new cozy craft store to hang out in.


  3. Sharon, I was wondering what you were wondering. What IS going on at that store that the employees are so crabby? There are some businesses I just love patronizing because I get a “good vibe” when I get there. Customers can sense that.

    Elaine, I agree that incidents like this show me how important attitude is in our everyday lives. It’s a good reminder for me.


  4. I agree with Elaine. It’s amazing how one person’s bad mood can leave bad karma for everyone. My husband and I have noticed that people are, generally, more angry about everything in recent months. Maybe it’s all the bad news, the economy??

    Sorry I haven’t visited your blog as often, Cindy. Lately I’ve been working a lot of hours, plus dealing with my mom’s new health issues. So I just answer my e-mail when I get home and crash away from the computer …



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