Big Box Store Help

So, because of my rural living (which I do love until I want nice yarn), I find myself in Big Box stores quite often, trying to find "good" yarn for myself and acrylic for kid friendly and inexpensive projects. Most of the people who wish to have something made by my wife or myself want "cheap and machine washable." So on my weekend away I found myself in several big box stores looking over the yarn on sale. A lady approaches my wife and asks "Do you knit, I need some help." To which my wife replies, "We both do, and my husband is a published designer." The lady seems very relieved and asks her question about fiber content, yarn weight, and suitable substitutions. I answer as best as I can and show her a few yarn labels and offer a substitution to her fear of the wool content. She was so pleased and said I am so glad I asked for help. She commented that she could never find anyone in that store who knew anything about yarn, knitting, or crochet. A few minutes later I am looking at a skein of wool which I have been wanting to make socks from. A very nice English woman sees me looking over the skein and asks (in her wonderful accent) "Oh do you knit?" And I reply "Yes." She tell me that her brother learned to knit in school in England, but never learned more than knit and purl and could make a few items. She asks, "Do you just knit and purl, like most men?" So since my wife had already opened the bag, I replied "I am a designer." She immediately comes back with a very English, "Oh, very well then!" smiling the whole time. We continue our conversation and complete our yarn shopping. On the way out of town to our vacation destination, we stop at one final Big Box Store. In the store my wife and I are approached by a woman who is trying to match two different brands of yarn for a baby blanket she has started. She holds the two up together and asks if we can tell a difference. I tell the truth, as it is quite noticeable, and she seems disappointed. She continues looking and so do we. When we go to check out, I leave my wife at the register as I feel the "call of nature." When I return from the restroom, I notice the lady is still comparing yarns trying to find something that will be close enough, when a tidbit of knowledge hits me. I go to the lady and tell her to divide her large skein in half and use it at opposing ends of the blanket with the new yarn in the center. I told her I read that somewhere or saw it on TV and it just occurred to me it may work for her. She liked the idea and thanked me. Later in the car my wife told me it was so nice to see me helping people with their yarn. She said that I was in my "element" and the people knew I know what I am talking about. So where am I going with this blog? I think some big box stores owe me a discount for my customer service this weekend. Why is it that these stores fully man a "custom frame counter", but never have anyone to man the needlework area? Just a thought.


Bill's picture

Perhaps a sign "Yarn Consultant" and "tips accepted"....? (grin)

smalltownknitguy's picture

Good idea Bill. I could create a name tag on my computer and wear it when I get to the Yarn area of the store.

stch's picture

Excellent idea Bill.

Also, regarding the question about staffing at the "custom framing counter" vs the "needlecraft area". There are two plausible answers to this.
1.) the store most likely assumes that it takes more time and focus to help a customer choose the mats, frame, glass, and other assorted requirements in framing an item. And if there is a sudden rush of customers wanting to have something framed, this may require more staffing at the counters at that time.
2.) cost vs profit. The cost of materials to put a framing project together is low compared to the the amount charged for the completed piece. So, naturally, a company is going to place the emphasis in the area that produced the higher profit.
I don't know if you noticed or not; that the staffing at the big box stores is generally few employees on per day with the majority of the staff working iether at the checkouts or in areas where custom work is done. Sadly employees are viewed quite often as an expense/liability and cuts into the company's profits.

(Please pardon my editing here, for some odd reason the rest of what I'd stated earlier didn't show up with my comment.)

It's wonderful that you helped and provided terrific information to the customers. The time and input that you gave will no doubt be remembered by them, and very much appreciated.

Tallguy's picture

No,no, not on the computer. You must KNIT a name tag for yourself. Shows you are serious about this business, and know your stuff. I agree -- I often help customers more than does the store staff. But of course, I do know a bit more than they do!!

It's true that these big box stores hire people to run the register and to look after the shelves, and not because they know anything about the items being sold. So you can't expect much of them. It's a good thing you were around!! (Hint: carry copies of your published pattern with you)

I think you're right. Big box stores should offer a discount or something for people who answer questions. I say this as the guy who usually asks other knitters about yarn/needle suitability when at the stores. And I have to agree that when you go in the stores, there's usually no one on the staff who know about fiber content, fitting and so on. I have been very lucky to meet people who are generous with their knowledge. Sounds like those people you met were lucky too.