“Well, we’ve just run out. We only had the three bits and we didn’t expect such a rush”
“So my choices are ‘or Death?”
You know, I’ve heard quite a few crafters talk about their negative experiences at yarn stores. I knitted long before I ever worked at my LYS so I was sensitive to the issue. Even now, with roughly 7 months under my belt, I try to remember to be thoughtful. I leave the browsers alone because they just want some peace and quiet. I chat with the people that need their hands held. I treat everyone as a potential crafter, even though male customers are rare and any men in the store usually are, indeed, the spouse of a female customer.
When threads about bad yarn stores surface, people with tattoos talk about being followed, men are ignored, and young people are treated as a nuisance. Although I first visited my LYS-now my place of work-when I was 16, I never felt that way. Maybe my first purchase established me as slightly different. It was two skeins of Shepherd Sock and a set of size 1 DPNs. Not exactly “Super Fun Crafty Bulky Knitz for Hawt Teens” material. Anyway, I was lucky to never felt put down because of my age.
But now, on the other side of the counter?
Most customers I deal with are amazing. And most of them seem pretty satisfied with the help that I give them. Unfortunately, I have a huge, huge disability that prevents me from helping a select few customers.
I’m young. Too young, apparently. Some customers, usually older, distinguished and conservative, just don’t feel comfortable being waited on by someone my age. I didn’t realize at first that it was my age. I offered my help. They politely declined and I assumed they wanted to browse in peace. However, the moment that my boss appeared or spoke to them, they lit up like a Christmas tree and they had a nice chat while I stood there and felt like a schmuck. I’m using generic terms because it’s happened multiple times by now. And it wasn’t because they knew my boss. Often they are out of town visitors that have never been in the shop before.
What’s frustrating about all of this is that all of their questions were basic ones that I could easily answer. They ranged from gauge to if we had more of a certain color of yarn but none of them were that baffling. When I described them as conservative, I didn’t just mean dress. Usually they’ve knitted a very small range of patterns with a limited range of yarn. They found a niche and they don’t stray from it. Waiting on this kind of customer takes patience because they usually have very specific and exacting demands but it’s simply because they know what they want. This can be frustrating for me if I can’t find the exact shade of fingering weight unicorn yarn that they want but the pay-off comes at the register. They usually spend well.
So what continues to baffle me is why on earth being young is such a bad thing. I’m young so I can run (well, not literally) all over the shop and fetch and carry and find what they need. Still, they remain visibly uncomfortable with my youthful appearance.
I certainly don’t understand this. Maybe some of you do?