Dear JoAnn Fabrics….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:53 pm

Jo-Ann Store Guest Experience Department
Jo-Ann Fabrics

To Whom It May Concern,

I am not known to frequent fabric stores as a rule; my contact with them over the years has been, at best, sporadic and tertiary. So perhaps my recent experiences are not as unique and noteworthy as I take them to be. However, short of some “Freaky Friday“-type transferral into the body of a Jo-Ann regular, my own perceptions are all I have to go on. So I think I’ll take the plunge and let you know about them.

I have tried three times in the span about about two months to purchase some Velcro at two different Jo-Ann stores, in widely different locales; twice in Olympia, Washington and once at the Tukwila, Washington store. The procurement of bulk Velcro would, at first blush, seem a relatively simple endeavor: 1) locate Velcro; 2) cut Velcro to desired length, and 3) purchase Velcro.

And so it would have been, if not for the Cutting Counter. Alas, it was at The Cutting Counter that my dreams of Velcro acquisition died a slow and unfulfilled death.

Allow me to paint a word picture, to describe the scene I witnessed three separate times at two geographically disparate locations: a massive counter, gleaming like an iceberg in the blinding fluorescent light. Before it, five to ten customers shuffling in place, their furtive movements not unlike waves lapping the Formica shore. Stacks, bales, sheaves of fabric of every conceivable color and pattern rise in precarious towers on the countertop. Behind its white expanse lies a single, exhausted middle-aged woman, who toils with shears and scanning gun, gamely but futilely striving to make headway against the ceaseless tide of humanity.

One. Employee. The single most crucial nexus of customer activity in the entire place, staffed by a single, overburdened worker. There were four times as many people staffing the cash registers—with only two or three customers in line—than were working to break up the logjam at the Cutting Counter. I gave up after twenty minutes the first time, fifteen the next, and by the third I had only to glance in the direction of the Cutting Counter, with its lone matron embroiled in her Sisyphean pursuit, to drop my purchase and head for the door.

I started this missive by admitting that I am not a frequent patron of fabric stores, and I did so for a reason. It may very well be that those more deeply enmeshed in the sewing-and-crafts lifestyle may be attuned to a calmer pace of life than I. In this modern instant-gratification-addicted society of ours, perhaps some of our more enlightened citizens choose to while away a few—say, twenty or thirty—precious moments in quiet reflection in the line at the Cutting Counter. As you travel Life’s aisles, make sure you take time to stop and smell the remaindered paisley ultrasuede for $2.95 a yard, etc. If so, I salute them, for they walk a calmer and more contemplative path than that of which I am currently capable.

As for me, I’m going to order my Velcro online. Even if it ships UPS Ground from Rhode Island, it’ll probably be faster than waiting in line at the Cutting Counter. Who knows, maybe I’ll even order it from you, though I won’t take any pains to do so; it wouldn’t seem right to reward you for short-staffing your retail stores.


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