Some of my energy lately has been consumed with getting 9 of my Cathedral Windows wallhangings back from Alma Sue's Quilt Shop in Sarasota, Fla. I took a number of quilts in to her shop in early July for possible consignment, & she handpicked 9 that she deemed saleable in her store. Some of them she said would sell once the snowbirds got here since they were colors more frequently used for home decor in the northern states.
Recently, I became curious how the quilts were doing and stopped in two weeks ago. I didn't see any of them. The owner, Ella wasn't in and the sales clerk couldn't tell me anything. She made a written note for Ella to call me. Later that day in the afternoon I called. They said, "Oh, Monday is Ella's day off. Call in the morning after 10:30." So, I called the next day around noon and they said, "Oh, Ella was here but became sick & went home". So, I waited 2 weeks for the "Phone Call" & the Quilt Shop never called. So the following weekend on Saturday's shopping trip I stopped in, again. This time I spoke with Ella, and she said "Oh, today's not a good day. You'll have to come back another time." At that point she acknowledged she didn't know where the wallhangings were, and didn't know if they had actually ever been on display during the four months. Said that Michael, a man who used to work there had rearranged her store completely over the summer when she was on vacation, and if he didn't like something he just put it away in the storeroom.
We live about 25 minutes from the store so I insisted on scheduling a time, and she said Tuesday at 1:00. Tues. morning came, I did not know what to think. Fred offered to call and find out if the quilts would be ready for pick-up at 1:00 before we drove a half hour to get there. We thought she might take it more seriously with a male voice calling. He called and asked to speak with Ella, and was told she was in a meeting, and they would call back. Fred said he bets they will call back in 15 minutes, and they never called at all! He begrudgingly admitted to losing the bet on that one! I bet him a dollar they wouldn't, and we shook on it. So Fred made another call when it was time to leave, & they curtly said the quilts were ready. Together we went & picked them up. The quilts were all there, and in good condition. I checked them out thoroughly before signing for them. The clerk asked me what I was looking for..."just checking to make sure everything is OK before I sign for them". The clerks were polite, but not pleasant. So, after four phone calls and 3 store visits in a 2.5 week saga, my quilts are back home with me. And, not once did anyone at Alma Sue's offer an apology. On the contrary, I was left with the feeling that I was out of line.
(Years ago, in Pa. I had a very bad experience with a returned Giant Dahlia quilt that had been consigned at a local quilt and fabric store. When I laid it out on my bed I became aware of a wide band that had become faded from their overhead lighting system. They flatly denied it, and assumed no responsibility. Always check your consigned quilts and crafts for issues prior to signing for their release.)
I haven't been buying much fabric except online or at thrift stores lately. And now I will feel absolutely no guilt at not supporting this particular family-owned fabric store as oppposed to JoAnns or Walmart - for supplies, etc. Respect and trust are earned.
As for the future of privately owned quilt stores and fabric stores - my sense is they will be few and far between as more and more people buy online, or scour thrift stores and yard sales as alternative, inexpensive sources of fabrics.