Friday, August 14, 2015

In Which The Nice Fabric Store Lady is Presumed to Have Magical Powers

Tales from the Cutting Counter:

A customer brings a bold of polar fleece to the counter.  The fleece is printed with big pictures of Lightning McQueen, from Disney's "Cars" movie.  The fabric is 58" wide, and is folded in half to fit on the bolt board, which is typical of most fabrics. The customer is making a pillow from the fleece, and is concerned that the motifs on the fabric will be too large for her pillow form.  I measure the print, and assure her that the entire racecar will indeed show on the pillow top.

The customer says, "Can you please make the cars on the back of the fabric smaller, so that I can fit more of them on the pillow?"

I say, "..."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Turn Around is Fair Play

Tales from the Cutting Counter: I answer the phone.
Customer: I need a price on some green fabric.
Me: What kind of fabric.
C: Green. Dark green.
Me: Yes, but what kind? Knit, woven, upholstery....?
C: Just dark green. Heavy.
Me: Duck cloth? Canvas? Upholstery solid? I have a lot of green fabric, you'll have to give me a little guidance here. Prices could range from $6 to $50 a yard.
C: For green?
Me: For all colors.
C: I don't think you understand what I want. Jean fabric.
Me: Jeans? Like... denim? Oh, I have lots of that. Just none in green.
C: I don't need it in green, I think you misheard that.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA All of my denim is $12.99 a yard and it's currently on sale half price. (more chuckles.) And I am so sorry...I really thought you were saying "Green" and I had NO idea what you needed.
C: :giggling: Thanks, I'll be up later for some.
Me: Great, thank YOU. And again, sorry for the misunderstanding.

Not all good tales feature customers that don't understand me. Sometimes, it's the other way around.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Matter of Perspective

Tales from the Cutting Counter:  An older couple comes up with a bolt of vivid orange cotton.  We carry several lines of solids;  the one they have is the top line.  She asks for a yard and a half;  I cut it, print the cutting ticket.  "This is $8.00?!?" she exclaims.  I examine the ticket.  "Yes," I say.  "Eight-Oh-Six.  That's thirty percent off the regular price."  She looks at her companion.  "She's going to kill me for spending this much."  They leave the fabric and ticket on the counter, and heads back into the fabric aisles.  Back they come with two other orange bolts.  After much discussion, they decide that the other oranges are not bright enough and their first choice is the best. "What are you making?" I ask.  "A windsock for my brother's runway," she says.  "My mother makes them.  She has to make a new one every couple of years because they fall apart from being outside all the time."  "So, your brother is a pilot?" I ask.  "Yes."  "And he needs a windsock so that he can take off and land safely?"  I look her straight in the eye.  "Well, yes."  "Spend the $8.00."  "Thanks."  And off they go, feet firmly on the ground, but thinking of the brother, up in the air.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It Takes a Village

Tales from the Cutting Counter:   Monday, I was "back in the stacks" as we say, putting something away in an aisle in the depths of the upholstery department. Two young girls, high school aged, stopped me.  They were draped over a shopping cart as if they had no bones, phones firmly in hand, giggling, sighing, being teenagers.  "I need your help," the one in quite fashionable glasses said to me.  "Sure," said I.  "What can I do for you?"  She began her long, sad story.  She needed to do a project for an art exhibition at her school on Saturday. She was going to redecorate her bedroom for her project. "My room is blue and green, and I have some blue and green Japanese lanterns,"  she said.  "What else should I do?" It was quite obvious that she had waited a bit too long to start her exhibit, and she was trying not to panic. I pointed to her iPhone.  "See this?  There are a million ideas in your hand," I said.  She wailed.  "I have spent hoooouuuurrrrrsss on Pinterest!"  "Well," I said, "there are three things I don't do."  Her friend began to snicker.  "I don't clean litter boxes.  I don't shovel snow.  And I don't do homework."  The friend howled with laughter. "I told you she wouldn't do it!"  I pointed out a big fixture full of home-dec books.  "Start there," I said.  The poor art-project girl looked me in the eye.  "Were you a teacher?" she asked, suspiciously.  "Nope.  Just a mom." And I smiled and walked back to the cutting counter.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Empty Nest

Tales from the Cutting Counter:  An older woman comes up to the cutting counter with a bolt of St. Patrick's Day fabric.  She looks a little fish-out-of-water-ish.

"How much of this will I need to make a tablecloth?" she asks.
"Well, that depends on the size of your table," I reply.
She hesitates for a moment, thinking hard.  "Hmmmm.  It's just...just a regular table."  She looks me in the eye, with a eureka! expression on her face.  "How big is a standard tablecloth?" she asks.
"There are at least 6 standard sizes for tablecloths," I say, trying to sound sympathetic.  I have ways of figuring things like this out for customers.  "How many people does your table seat?"  I ask.
The woman laughs.  "Our kids are long gone," she explains to me.  "It's just me and my husband now."

Perhaps she should consider placemats.

What is Real?

Tales from the Cutting Counter:  A woman put a stuffed toy on the counter.  When I looked closely at it, I realized it was Grover, from Sesame Street.  About 18" from head to toe, this Grover had much of his fur loved off (to borrow a phrase from The Velveteen Rabbit.)  He'd been repaired many times.  His eyes were blank white ovals;  the irises and pupils long since worn away.  I asked about the toy.  "This was my daughter's.  Now, her son loves it.  I think I am going to try to make a cover for it so he can keep it."  I thought hard.  I try not to insert myself into people's projects, but I really felt compelled to say something.  "This is only my own opinion," I said.  "But have you considered putting this beauty away and making a duplicate?  Grover can't handle much more wear before disintigrating.  And if you make a replica, perhaps your grandson can show the original to HIS son one day, and pass down the one grandma made."  "That never occurred to me!" the woman said.  "That's the perfect solution."  So I helped her choose fabric, and showed her where the safety eyes were, and gave suggestions about stuffing and thread and what to use for Grover's big red nose.  She is an experienced sewer, and she said she wouldn't have any problem drafting a pattern from the original.  I told her to save the pattern, and store it away with Original Grover, with some photos of work in progress.

This is why I love my job.

Can I Just Borrow This?

Tales from the Cutting Counter:   A few days ago, I sold a young couple 6 1/2 yards of a heavy upholstery fabric that sported a contemporary floral print. Yesterday, the young woman returned to the story with the fabric and receipt in hand.  She wanted to return it.  As I took the fabric from her to remeasure, which starts the return process, she said, "I only used about this much," indicating about 18 inches with her hands.  "You've cut this?" I asked.  "If you've cut it, you can't return it."  "But I bought a lot more than I needed, just in case!  It was expensive!"  I suggested covering another piece of furniture, or reselling the fabric online.  These ideas didn't go over well.  She took her fabric and grumbled out of the store.

I am guessing that her next stop was the grocery store, where she wanted to return half a carrot and two-thirds of a container of cottage cheese.