Thursday, June 14, 2007

Un-Knitterly Behavior

At the last minute yesterday evening, I decided to take a trip to Downer's Grove to Knitche for their Thursday night open knitting event. It was a bit of a drive for me, at least half an hour, but I do love to knit and shop.
Imagine my surprise when I got there and found they were now beginning to assess a $5 fee for open knitting.
We're coming into your store, more likely than not to spend quite a bit of money, and you're going to charge us? Are you kidding me?
Sure, the $5 could be applied to a purchase of $10 or more. Since I rarely leave a yarn shop spending less than that, it's not really a big deal monetarily. Before I heard about the fee, there were even some sock yarns that were looking particularly ravishing last night. It's the principle of the thing. If anything, they should be offering discounts.
I'm simply not going to pay $5 to sit on my ass and knit. I can do that for free at home (after the cost of yarn), and I could go to a bar and knit and at least get a beer for my $5 (which I may have done tonight).
This is simply un-knitterly behavior. We are a community. We help each other. We do not assess fees just to sit together and talk about knitting. If we were talking about serious classes, I could understand, but I was just there to knit on a pattern I'm not having any problems on (yet, lest I curse myself). I just wanted to sit down and chat about knitting. I was not going to pay to do that.
I turned and left, and drove the half hour back home. And maybe spent my $5 on beer.
When I got home, I sent off an angry email complaining about this, and suggesting to them that if the pleasure of their company was really worth paying for, perhaps they were in the wrong profession. Not only will I not be attending their Thursday night knitting in the future, I will not be visiting that store at all. I am not pleased. Not pleased at all.
I encourage you to boycott this fee with me, or at least send an email to telling her that this is a very bad idea.


Terri said...

Done. What a stupid idea.

Victoria said...

there are two local shops near me one...which i won't name because many bloggers buy from their online business...when you got their store if you have just a super simple pattern question they will tell you to make an appoint and it will cost 25$ an hour (even if its a 2 minute question)...seriously....

another shop says that they will answer you question but it will cost $25 as well....

what gives?

now there is one more shope (Deluxe Yarns, Reno, NV) That if you run in and have a question she helps you if you need longer, then its $5 an hour for pattern help...also twice a month she hold a group called "Knit n Rip" ....she supplies munchies, and beverages (and people always show up with something in hand), there is a donation jar....but if you don't have it then its cool no one looks at you can just come and sit and "play yarn" with us...and what ever you can afford to put in the jar is up to you, from some change to what ever you feel comfy chipping in...the owner pays for the treats out of pocket and did not ask for the donations those of us who go there all the time to hang out (and of course buy a lot of yarn) thought it would be a good idea because not only on the two nights a month...she always has coffee and tea and readily offers it, keeps cases of water for anyone who wants it, soda and other treats can be no one feels bad about pitching in whatever they can afford...and if you can't no none thinks anything of it....the owner appreciates it and definately takse what is donated and uses it to replenish treats for us.....your situation does not sound like that....sounds rude and i agree with everything you said.

DK said...

Oh, that's crazy. I know there are a couple of places that charge a minimal fee like that for time when you can come in and get simple help with a teacher who's dedicated to the group, but, just to sit on your ass and knit? Good choice on the beer.

Toni at Kool Knits, I'm told, used to charge for the knitting group as well, but right from the start (changing this now is awful), but you'd get a percentage off your purchase and she had some sort of punch card system where you'd get a really good discount for every ten knit nights you attended or something. And maybe there were snacks.

Not cool, Knitche. Very not cool. I'm very disappointed in them.

Nor is the $25 for simple help thing Victoria mentions. That's sort of becoming more rampant, I think. Dude, what the hell is wrong with people? I've spent half an hour helping customers with pattern problems or knitting issues in stores I don't even work at (INCLUDING KNTICHE! Maybe I should send them a bill?)! Geez.

Amanda said...

I could maybe understand the cover charge if they were providing refreshments or something - but $5 just to sit and knit! Crazy. It isn't a bar! Yarn shops shouldn't charge a cover. Did you have to show your ID too?

You'd think they would wise up and realize that knitters need yarn, and the happier those knitters are with you, the more likely they are to buy the yarn while they are there.

Oh well, at least you have a fabulous yarn store that actually pays YOU to come hang out in their store.

I'm curious to see if this shop responds to your email.

Lorna said...

How disappointing... I wonder what prompted this as it really doesn't sound like Kathy - hmmm..

I'll send an email too

Lorna said...

Hey - I betcha Bridget at Peggy's wouldn't.... heee...

They have open knitting Thursday nights too I do believe - AND they're not any further from you than Knitche

Charlton said...

I can understand the motivation for charging $25 an hour for help. I've seen a knitter who refuses to actually shop at a particular yarn store (she goes to discount stores and big box craft stores because yarn stores are "too expensive") take yarn, needles, and pattern (bought elsewhere) to that store and take up an hour of a staff member's time getting help. If I saw that two or three times, and I were a store owner, I'd probably start charging for help too!

The "community" line only works when everyone is sharing and nobody is trying to take advantage of someone else -- and I think that someone who buys yarn at discount prices and expects full-price yarn store help with her patterns is definitely taking advantage. When enough people take advantage of other people like that, and try to get away with it by saying "community! community!" the whole community suffers.

On the other hand, charging $5 for a knitting night in a store is counterproductive, though I could understand it in a community center or some such where someone had to pay for the room. The people you will tick off most with such a gesture are the people who spend the most -- the ones who say "I spent $100 on sock yarn in this store last weekend, and you want me to pay $5 more to just sit here and knit?" The store owner loses the $5 for the knitting night, and the next $100 for sock yarn. It's bad for business, period, never mind whether it's a rude thing to do.

Jamisyn said...

That is just ridiculous! I would have gone home, too, after giving them a piece of my mind to their faces as well. Were there many people there?

Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah,
I'm very sorry that you had a negative experience last night. The last thing I want to do is make folks feel unwelcome in the shop.

Believe me this was an extremely difficult decision for me to start asking for a Thursday night fee. If you'll allow me, I'd like to explain the reason for the change.

Initially, we offered only a "clinic" night, for which there has always been a $5 fee, where we'd provide a staff member for the evening to help folks with any knitting problems they wanted to bring in. Over time, this night morphed into a social knitting night instead. While I absolutely love the idea of knitters gathering at Knitche on Thursday nights, it is very difficult for me to pay an instructor and keep the coffee bar up and the utilities running with little to no income for the evening. I truly appreciate those of you that have supported our shop on these nights, but unfortunately there have been many nights where not a single purchase has been made. One night I stopped by and every person there was knitting with yarn they had purchased on the internet. And while I'm sure you and most others who have participated in Thursday night knitting wouldn't think of doing this, I've actually learned that there are some people not connected with the shop that have started accepting money for providing help to others on that night!

Times are a little tough for LYSs these days. Five shops in the west suburbs alone have closed within the last year. My thought on the "cover charge" was that it would be a relatively painless price to pay to support the shop and allow us to continue to stay open on Thursday nights for both clinic help and social knitting. The fee is completely applicable toward a purchase (either that night or at a later time), so as not to discourage those like yourself that don't particularly need any knitting help. I did query several customers prior to initiating the policy and everyone I asked was okay with the idea. The other alternative I considered was to go back to a strictly "clinic" night on most Thursdays and offer "social knitting" only once a month. But most people thought this would be too tough for people to keep track of. I would be interested to know if this option would suit people better and if so, I'd be happy to switch.

Basically, it boils down to this: is LYSs are going to survive, they need to be supported in the communitites they serve. We are there to provide a service to you and are happy to do it, but we need to feel the same support in return.

I really appreciate your message - not everyone would even bother to let me know that they were upset by this. I apologize again for offending you in any way and hope that you and your fellow knitters will understand my effort.

Kathy / Knitche

Lorna said...

I'm glad Kathy responded with an explanation. I am appalled that others who attended a night like this would charge for help. How RUDE! Shame that the LYS's are struggling and they provide things we couldn't get elsewhere...

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment that I agree with this part of what Kathy said: "Basically, it boils down to this: is LYSs are going to survive, they need to be supported in the communitites they serve. We are there to provide a service to you and are happy to do it, but we need to feel the same support in return."

I've been in LYS's on Open knit night and heard people comment rather loudly about how a certain yarn (sold in the store) was too expensive, so they purchased a similar yarn at Michael's or JoAnn's.

I've seen knit nights where practically nothing has been purchased, and yet the shop has to pay staff and keep the place open. I think most reasonable places understand that no one is going to buy ALL their yarn from their store. However, they are still a business, and they have to survive.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while initially, I was angry when I read about the $5 charge, part of me can understand where they are coming from. I don't think they're doing this out of any greed. I think it has to be done out of necessity.


Knitting fiend said...

Wow, you gals are way off base. The $5 is not "to just sit and knit" but rather is a credit toward yarn purchases. Did you even read the explanation Knitche provided before you decided to lead a boycott against the best yarn store in the area? All we knitters need is for one more shop to go out of business because the cheapos decide to buy for a few dollars less online.

The only reason I could see that anyone would be upset about this policy is if they don't buy anything at Knitche but instead are using the shop as their personal social location, while purchasing their materials somewhere else. Kudos to Kathy for standing up to these freeloaders! And shame on you for leading an online boycott without knowing what you're talking about (or worse, knowing but purposely targeting this wonderful store!).

Anonymous said...

It is really too bad that the world has become such a negative place and that you would call to boycott a store with out contacting the owner first as to why they might have instituted a new policy. What’s even worse is that so many people would criticize such a policy instead of saying to them selves that makes sense; someone has to pay salaries…etc. I guess what is really unfortunate is that a store would have to come up with a policy for people to understand that there is an expense incurred when a store is kept open and staffed no matter what the time of day. Knitche has provided a comfortable and welcoming environment for people to come and knit and I would happily pay $5.00 to sit and knit. You have mentioned several times in your comments that you prefer Beer, maybe you would find your local tavern to be a more suitable outlet for your creativity…although remember when you spend that $5.00 on a Beer you could probably buy a 12 pack for the same amount of money though I doubt this would detour you.

Loyal Knitter

Robin said...

Wow - what a firestorm! I think Kathy's explanation makes sense, and I wouldn't mind paying it if I were knitting with yarn I didn't purchase there (which is usually the case - NOT because I am cheap, but because they never have what I want in stock - and I'm not having them order it when I could do the same damn thing and get it more quickly (on top of paying more.) As they can't tell who bought what where, the $5 seems ok now that they describe it that way - but they should be more upfront about why they are charging it (as Kathy was in her explanation) as then I think ppl would understand a little more. And what's wrong with wanting a beer? They might get more takers (and bring in more profit LOL) if they got a liquor license.

Robin said...

I should have clarified that I do not attend their Thursday night knitting sessions either (with their yarn or internet yarn) as I'd rather knit at home or have a beer across the street while knitting.