It's Sunday, so please allow me a little rant...well, maybe not so little...about something that really infuriated me this weekend.
Yesterday Josh and I took James to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. This is now a huge festival covering 22 acres and is full to the brim with jousting, caroling, and everything you can imagine being at a Ren Fest.
Unfortunately this also means there were crowds and crowds of people. It was so packed in some places, I swore I could be standing in line at Disney world, not in a dusty field in Concord, NC.
Keeping up with a 3.5 year old in that kind of crowd is not easy and within 3 hours, 4 swing rides, a turkey leg, and bread bowl, Josh and I were fed up and ready to go home.
But leaving Ren Fest without buying something from the 200 or so shops full to the brim with beautiful gifts, handmade clothing, sterling sliver jewelry, or blown glass is just unthinkable.
Josh had managed to pop into a shop and buy a new leather mug while James and I were waiting in line for again for the flying dragon ride, but I hadn't really had time to look at anything other than James and the next opening in the crowd we could squeeze through.
So on the way out, when I spied a weaver shop full of beautiful, hand woven garments, I decided I simply had to look and would possibly go home with one. I knew and expected them to be expensive (hello! I am a quilter here!), so I walked into the shop looking for something I liked.
And I found two things right off the bat: a beautiful woven cloak complete with cloak pin that was woven in dark red yarn and black, giving it a bold, bright look, and a shawl in a similar color.
I live in shawls through the winter and usually wear them as wide scarves, and then pull them down around my arms when I take my jacket off in a restaurant. Both pieces were simply gorgeous and I really wanted to try them on.
But here's the thing, I really like to know how much a garment costs before I start taking it off the hook. I just think it's a good idea so just in case I get the edges dirty and HAVE to buy it, I know what I'm getting myself into.
There has to be a psychology behind it because as soon as I pick up something that doesn't have a price on it, I immediately lose interest. It's like I'm subconsciously assuming the seller doesn't really want to sell because if she did, there would be a price on it!
Looking around, there was not a price tag or list to be found in the whole shop! If I wanted something, I would have to ask for every single individual price! What an incredibly stupid limit to business!
But here's the worse part: the shop keeper was neither friendly nor helpful. In fact, she was downright insulting.
When asked if she had a price list for her shop, something I could carry around and use to get more familiar with the garments, types of materials, and cost, she looked at me like I was a particularly annoying idiot and answered in the most condescending way possible.
As my eyebrows rose and the look on my face was probably telling her exactly what I thought of her, she proceeded to explain that nothing was marked and that SHE was the price list. If I wanted a price, I would have to ask for it.
This was so incredibly stupid for so many reasons:
Woven garments of this type are extremely expensive, costing around $260 for a nice cloak and $100 for a shawl. People are not going to shell out this kind of money unless they know what they are buying - such as these are garments made in the US, by this really sweet, wonderful woman, and made with only wool from her cute sheep.
Garments, just like our quilts, don't sell because people JUST like the garment or quilt, but because the buyer likes the garment and us and wants to take something home to remember the experience with.
The woman in the shop was setting up her shop to be incredibly user-unfriendly and entirely dependent on her. What if she wanted to go get something to eat or run to the privy? Who could run the shop with no prices on anything?
Worse yet, she prejudged me the second she saw me.
Yes, I look younger than I actually am. Most people who see me in person think I'm around 18 - 20, not 27. And because I haven't tattooed "professional quilter" to my forehead, she probably didn't think I knew anything about fine handcrafts or the prices that should be charged.
Prejudging a potential customer is about the most ridiculously stupid thing a business owner can do.
One of my very best customers ever was a man at a quilt show who was not buying for his wife or daughter and definitely a quilter in his own right.
He was used to being treated like he was a second class citizen at most quilt shops, but when he came to my booth, I treated him just like everyone else and we talked in depth about free motion quilting. In the end, he walked away happily convinced and inspired to try it.
I was fully expecting the woven garments to be around $100 - $300 and if I found something I liked and had been treated with respect, I would have been more than happy to shell it out.
So that's my rant: price your wares if they are for sale, and try not to prejudge your customers, even if they don't look like someone who could afford or understand your products.
Have any of you experienced a similar situation? Any twenty-somethings tired of being asked if we're attending with our mothers? Share your rant in the comments below!
Let's go quilt,