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Guess who bought Denver Fabrics?

December 16th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

The FAQ at Denver Fabrics has been updated to reflect it’s new owners. Does it look familiar? No? Maybe you’ve never checked the FAQ for this company.

My first clue was that the new promotionals that Denver Fabrics was sending out had a decidedly familiar ring to them. And then I noticed that the layout for the merchandise descriptions seemed really familiar, too. It took very little poking around to make it very obvious. A friend of mine even went so far as to realize that “Denver Fabrics” and “Fashion Fabrics Club” are carrying the exact same stock. It’s nothing more but a different door to the same store.

This is disappointing on several levels. If Denver Fabrics had to sell out, it would have been nice if they could have sold out to someone new to the business. Then at least there would have been a variety of choices. As it is now, it’s just as though they’ve gone out of business—one less choice.

Then there is the sadness of it having to be FFC that bought it. Denver Fabrics had the most wonderful, warm, encouraging, there’s-no-such-thing-as-a-stupid-question customer service. Although I’ve never experienced being treated poorly by the FFC customer service, it has always struck me as cold and uncaring. I have always been loathe to contact them, and always felt like it would just be a bother because I wouldn’t get any help from them anyway.

There is also the sadness that Denver Fabrics used to highly recommend swatches, and tried very hard to get people to use them. FFC refuses any kind of sampling except buying 1/8th of yard and charges so much for shipping that 1/8th of yard—$4.95, to be exact—that one is strongly discouraged from buying swatches. This leads to many dissappointing purchases.

There is also the problem that FFC is very inconsistent in it’s quality. I could feel confident in buying anything from Denver Fabrics, knowing that they only sold quality stuff I’d be glad to have. Even just seeing the swatch sets that FFC sends out to it’s club members (they choose the fabric that gets swatched, not you) has taught me there is a lot of ugly polyester in the world. I recently bought two pieces of wool from FFC. The both had similar decriptions—they were wool flannel, though one piece was “brushed” and the other was “denim weave” on the back.

The first piece was so “brushed” it’s nap was so pronounced as to almost appear as a “fake fur” (but it felt a lot better!) It was supple and soft. It prewashed up beautifully (I used tepid water and dishsoap).

The other piece was coarse, and stiffer than polyester felt. It leaked dye all over the place as soon as water touched it. And after sending about 6 bathtubs full of emerald green water down the drain, it continued to leak dye. It is now pretty much worthless to me, because I don’t care how many times they “recommend” dry cleaning wool, I’m not going to sew up anything I can’t clean myself.

That made smoke pour out of my ears, I can tell you. If they had sold me plain white wool, I could have dyed it much more color fast myself, and gotten the same (or better) color to boot. I have done enough dying of wool to consider it “not dyed” when as soon as you plunge it into water it releases all of it’s dye. They have utterly no excuse. It was a cruddy, cheap piece of work.

Now how will I be able to tell the difference? Some wool that FFC sells is good. Some is not. Both pieces I bought were the exact same price. It turns into a blind guessing game. Unless you’re willling to pay $5 for the privilidge of finding out it’s a worthless fabric.

I’d really rather just shop some place that sold quality fabric, and had a consistent stock. Let me know if you know of such a place.

Posted in Contemplations, Dyeing, Merchants, Websites | No Comments »

Aww, no!

September 6th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

What else can I say? That’s all I can think right after getting an email that “Denverfabrics.com will soon be changing hands. All fabric on our web site must be sold to make way for the new owners.” I love the service I’ve always gotten from Denver Fabrics, and I’m very, very sorry to see it changing hands. I guess the owner’s felt like they had enough of their hands with their brick-and-motar shop in Littleton (which is on the other side of the country from me, so I’ll never be shopping there). But it makes me sad because Denver Fabrics really stood out from most any other fabric store for their wonderful costumer service—their honesty, helpfulness, and straight fowardness. I honestly can’t see any way for Denver Fabrics to improve by changing hands. I always felt like Denver Fabrics meant it when it said “we would like to hear from you”, and I can’t help but think that once it changes hands it will just be one more “business” out there, instead of the very personal way Denver Fabrics was run.

It was my favorite place to buy fabric, and I was looking foward to buying a lot more from them in the future.

I suppose you might think I’m reading too much into a simple changing-of-hands, but I don’t understand why all the fabric has to be sold off unless this changing-of-hands is a bad thing. There was nothing wrong with Denver Fabrics fabric, and if they’re selling it all off, it means the new hands aren’t interested in doing things the way Denver Fabrics did. That’s a real shame. Denver Fabrics knew what it was doing better than just about anyone else out there.

I wonder who is buying it, and what on earth they’re planning to do with it.

Oh, well. Figures the good stores would be the one’s to go down.

Posted in Merchants | No Comments »

Dear Jo-Ann's. . .

February 16th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

I would like to suggest a proposal that would greatly improve customer relationships.

I propose to call down fire and brimestone and turn the entire franchise into nothing more than a sulferous wasteland, with a special salt pillar for every Jo-Ann’s policy maker.

I can totally affirm from my time spent in Jo-Ann’s stores that this arrangement would greatly improve my enjoyment of the my time spent at Jo-Ann’s, encourage me to visit Jo-Ann’s more often, and talk to my friends about Jo-Ann’s more often.

I don’t usually do a lot of vendor bashing, but occaisionally my experiences with a merchant lead me to believe there should be public health warnings posted on the door. “Warning: Shopping here will raise your blood pressure to dangerously high levels. The Surgeon General says that high blood pressure has been linked to strokes, heart attacks, and fatalities. By opening this door, you acknowledge you are taking your life in your hands.” Or, at the very least: “Warning: This store has been shown to raise blood pressure. Please remain alert.” Since the good Surgeon General hasn’t yet taken it upon himself to warn everyone, I figured I should do a public service announcment.

Now, as I mentioned before, Jo-Ann’s is a franchise. That means that the parent company makes decisions about policies, and the store managers are in charge of running the store. I have heard a lot of complaints from people who say their local Jo-Ann’s are filthy, have fabric falling off shelves and piled in the aisles, have incompetent employees, treat their customers rudely, and many other problems. I think those are problems with the store manager, and I can honestly say I’ve never had those problems. My “local” (30 minute drive one-way) Jo-Ann’s has always been clean, the staff has always been polite and helpful, the fabric well maintained. Sure, the selection has been terrible, and quality very low-grade, but I’ve always felt that I got what I paid for, when I chose to buy anything (which was usually only with sales/coupons).

My complaint? Their coupons and sales. The policy-makers at Jo-Ann’s have been foolish enough to believe that their only goal is their customer’s money. This is false. You may have their money, but if you lose them as a customer, you’ll never get any more out of them. If you win them as a customer, they will keep coming back again and again and again—far out-weighing any momentary rip-off.

At first I thought I just had to get used to the way things work. They always have mulitple sale dates in their flyer, so if you have 2 things you want to get, one may be on sale one day, and the other the next, and if you try to get them both, you’ll suddenly realize only one of them is on it’s proper sales. The very nice saleslady will point out that the other one wasn’t on sale yet, and even ask you if you still want to purchase it. Then you realize that you drove 30 minutes out of your way to get here, and if you really want item number two, you’ll either have to drive all the way back out here later to get it at it’s sale price, or else cough up the absurd non-sale price. Usually, this occurs at the check-out, with a line behind you. All the while you’re trying to figure if item number two is really that important to you, you can hear the Policy-Maker’s sniggering up their sleeves, ’cause they know you’ve already decided to get item number two (it’s half the reason you drove out there, after all), and that their other sale has successfully caused you to pay full price for the other thing you wanted.

Then there are the coupons. You think you have a coupon you can use, and you bring it to the cutting table, and the very nice, polite sales lady says, “Oh, I’m sorry, this coupon doesn’t start until 6pm. Would you like me to hold your fabric until you can come back this evening?” Lady, I live 30 minutes away!! I AM NOT COMING BACK! And, of course, the Policy-Maker’s are laughing at their deviousness.

Then JoAnn’s starts sending you print-out coupons to your email. And you think, there, this will justify my trip out. I will use the coupons in the flyer, and my print out coupon, and I’ll be able to get everything I want for a good price. It will be worth the drive out. So you get there, find what you want, and get to the check-out. Then the very nice saleslady says, “Oh, I’m sorry, Jo-Ann’s has just insituted a new policy. You can’t use print-out coupons at the same time you use flyer coupons.” My saleslady was mortified to have to say this. She even went as far as to suggest I leave my last item with her, walk out of the store, come back in, and buy the last item–to fulfill the letter of the law, even though she was appalled by the spirit of the law she was supposed to be handing out.

Needless to say, I got quite disgusted with Jo-Ann’s. I decided that I would only buy patterns (when on sale), and notions when I needed them with very short notice. Unfortunately, I discovered that the myth that women have a biological function that causes them to forget unpleasant events (so as to forget the pain of childbirth, and keep bearing children), was not a myth. Recently, I became loaded down with 3 coupons–one was the regular 40% off coupon with every flyer. One was a special mailer for 50% off. And one was a email print-out for 50% off. And I didn’t even really need anything. I was simply suckered in by their coupons, and decided I wanted to treat myself to something I wanted. So far, so good, for the policy makers.

However, I remembered enough from my last experiences that I took my print-out coupon to A.C. Moore, where they cheerfully accepted my JoAnn’s coupon without any problems at all–they didn’t even hesitate.

Next I went to JoAnn’s, looking for something I that I would simply be happy to have. I also needed a spool of thread, but I didn’t need to use a 50% off coupon on that. I found some really nice wool yarn, and took two skeins. I checked for sale signs, and didn’t see any. In fact, I had a hard enough time finding the price for the yarn–$5 a skein.

So I get to the check out line (and there is a line today), and show the cashier my two coupons.

“Now, I can use both of these coupons, right?”

She glances at them.

“Sure!” She starts ringing things up. “Oh!. . .Um. . .this yarn is already on sale, so you can’t use the coupons on it.”

“It’s on sale?! For how much?”

“. . .It’s $4 each.”

“Can’t you just cancel out the sale, and use my coupon instead?”

“Oh, no! We can’t cancel out sales.”

At this point, smoke is beginning to pour out of my ears. If I hadn’t come in here specifically to have a good time, and buy something just to make me happy, perhaps I could have smiled cheerfully, stepped out of my line in the long wait of customers, found something else that wasn’t on sale (like muslin, you can always use more muslin, right?), and still made use of my coupons. But as it was, the saleslady was lucky that I don’t believe in taking out my grievances on the grunts.

I carefully set the yarn aside–I wanted to smash it on the counter, but it looks pretty ridiculous if it you do that with something as soft as yarn–and told the lady that I wasn’t interested at purchasing the yarn at the price. I didn’t look at her, I looked at the counter, and I may have been making it smoke. Certainly I was willing it to burst into flames. At any rate, the lady caught wind of my mood, and asked me a little nervously if I “would like to use a coupon on the thread.”

“Why not,” I said disgustedly, to the counter.

“Which one do you want me to use? I mean, are you going to be coming back again later before they expire or anything?”

“No, I’m not coming back,” I said, to the counter.

“Do you want a bag for that?” she asked meekly.

“No, I’ll just stick it my purse.”

She was perceivably relieved when the transaction ended. Perhaps the smoke was getting to her. I did not slam the door on my way out. You can’t; the doors are un-slamable. Apparently Jo-Ann’s has had experience on how it’s customers prefer to exit the building.

Like I said, I don’t like to give grief to the people who are just doing their job as they are told to do it. It’s not like it’s their idea. Whoever did have that idea is already making me miserable enough; there is no reason for me to make them twice pleased by taking out my ire on their underlings. They probably make their underlings plenty miserable enough without me helping.

And I was upset enough, anyway, I probably wouldn’t have been very coherent. But I probably would have said things like “If you treated your customers better, it might not take three 50% off coupons and a store-wide sale to lure me in here!!” and “Stop sending me your stupid idiotic coupons if you won’t even let me use them!!”

The worst, most ironic thing was that I had seen the exact same yarn at A. C. Moore. Maybe I should just stay on JoAnn’s mailing list and take all of my coupons to A. C. Moore.

Posted in Merchants | 8 Comments »