Have you ever had this experience? You go into a locally owned shop, the shop owner is not overly friendly, or helpful, and they appear to not need your business by the way their attitude projects outward. This small shop owner suffers from a disorder that my husband and I, affectionately, refer to as the Quilt Shop Owner Syndrome. If you own a quilt shop, please don’t freak out, let me explain.
During all the years we worked in the quilting industry, we were on the supplier end of things, so we saw the shop owners come and go, their businesses succeed for a while then fade or be sold to the next shop owner. One thing we almost always saw in common among the owners who failed was a desperation for $$ to stay afloat and an indifference toward the individuals who could keep them afloat, their customers.
Sure, there are a lot of good business decisions that go into keeping a business running smoothly, but if you don’t have the customers, you can’t sell anything. Many shop owners struggle because they want to offer a high end product and they cannot afford to discount that product, so their more frugal customers will depart for the national chain down the street. The problem is that the shop owner begins to look suspiciously at all their walk-in customers as potential lost sales from the beginning and then treat them as such.
Today I was confronted by another of these shop owners. The other day, I took in some fabric to this shop to have it pleated. This is a service that this shop offers. When I called the shop today to check on the status I was informed that the price would be higher for my pleating service because I had not purchased the fabric from the shop. While I do understand the thinking behind this as wanting to sell more of her own fabrics, what it did was just the opposite. Wouldn’t it have been better to raise the price of pleating a piece of fabric from $7 to $10 across the board and not have to hassle with whether a customer bought it there or not? Wouldn’t that just be a great service to offer to everyone?
I will now be buying my own pleater, which I could also have purchased from her, and doing my own pleating. The shop owner lost my pleating business, fabric sales, and pleater sale business all because she wanted to make a couple of extra dollars from me any way possible.
The thinking that goes into dividing your customers into groups according to what they will or will not purchase from you on any given day is one of the things that ultimately puts these shops out of business. When I visit a speciality shop, I expect to pay more, but I also expect to walk away with a desire to “Come Again Soon”…