Liberty lovelies. Lots of them.
Liberty print corduroy. One day soon it will be an autumn dress for yours truly.
Possibly the least sophisticated corduroy print ever. Teddy has already demanded a quilt made from it (I was rather hoping for trousers for Jasper).
The the silver lining is shown above. Cloud follows below.
Turns out that even lovely fabric isn't enough to make me like a store with shoddy customer service.
We (Charlotte and I) had a bit of a fabric expedition yesterday, to Fabrics Galore in Battersea. It was primarily to buy Liberty prints (I've had quite a few requests for patchwork bundles after listing scrap bags a couple of weeks back, so I'll be listing a few in the coming weeks, as well as eventually putting together some quilt kit bundles of Liberty print and salvaged fabrics) and to stock up on some winter garment fabrics for the boys. I achieved both of these things.
I'm not a big one to dwell on negatives, and even more rarely bring them to this space, but I just couldn't get over how rudely we were treated in Fabrics Galore. Shortly after walking in the door we were debating between several bolts of Liberty fabric when a sales assistant told us to (a) return fabric bolts to the shelves and (b) instructed us on the correct way round to return them and how to fold the fabric under, to "save us some work". Ummm. I'm sorry, I thought my job in a fabric store was to spend money, not tidy fabric. Don't get me wrong, I am down with fabric shopping etiquette and always neatly return bolts to shelves after choosing which to take to the cutting table, but I don't expect to be told to stand in for the staff who are paid to do it. When I worked in H&M as a student, I didn't follow customers round asking them to re-fold clothes when they'd finished looking at them (and not just because most people who were shopping in my department at H&M were hormonal pregnant ladies).
However, we smiled politely, did as we were asked, and carried on browsing. A short while later Charlotte was roundly told off (by the same sales assistant) for looking at some bolts of fabric behind a cutting table as that area was 'staff only' (absolutely fine, but there were no signs to show this and she made out like Charlotte was sneaking behind there). Again, not a huge drama, although the shine had definitely been taken off our trip.
The final insult came after I had my fabric cut (thankfully by a different sales assistant, who was perfectly polite) and had paid for it. Charlotte was waiting for the same sales assistant to finish cutting her fabric (the assistant had cut one of her fabrics and was just about to lay the second of three or four bolts out on the cutting table) when another customer walked to the cutting table with three bolts and asked for huge yardage of both. Instead of asking them to wait, the sales assistant who had been so rude to us earlier simply stood in front of the assistant who was about to cut Charlotte's fabric and started serving them. It was perfectly obvious that we were being served, and we also made it clear that we were in a bit of a rush so as not to miss our train (I normally wouldn't mind waiting, especially if someone else is in a rush and I'm having a nice chat about fabric). It was like we had become invisible. After a few more comments about trains and getting increasingly peeved with the whole thing, Charlotte handed over the cash for the one piece of fabric that had been cut (even in such a ridiculous situation, we both appreciate that once fabric is cut it can't really be re-sold, and didn't want to get the sales assistant who had been serving us into trouble), and we left.
For me, fabric shopping is an integral part of my love of sewing. I enjoy examining and feeling different fabrics, chatting to staff about the perfect fabric if I have a pattern in mind, and generally fostering a relationship with the people helping me. I know that fabric stores are often small independent businesses, and like to support them. Unfortunately, Fabrics Galore failed in every possible way in terms of giving me a positive shopping (and therefore sewing) experience.
I'm trying to convince myself that we were simply unfortunate, as presumably the shop wouldn't still be in business with staff that rude on a daily basis, but I doubt I'll be returning to give them a second chance. I like my fabric shopping to be fun!
So, in future I'll be keeping my fabric pounds for my favourite quilting and garment fabric retailers (including The Eternal Maker, Backstitch, Fair Trade Fabrics, Saints and Pinners, Raystitch, C&H, Liberty, Dots 'n' Stripes and various shops on Goldhawk road). And I shan't dwell on negative fabric shopping any longer.
ps: I hate being unfair, and the right of reply is ingrained somewhere deep in my journalist bones, so I've let Fabrics Galore know about this review.
Edited to add: Yesterday (a few days after the original post was written) I got a reply from Paul Johnston at Fabrics Galore. He apologised wholeheartedly and unreservedly, which really really impressed me. To be honest I wasn't really expecting a response fromy my email, so it was great to both be acknowledged and have a truly genuine apology. Paul may or may not come and comment on this post at some point, but I just wanted to let my readers know that he has reassured me that he will not only speak to the individual concerned, but ensure that the rest of his staff have a look at this review, with the intention of ensuring that it doesn't happen again. I feel somewhat reassured, and will probably give Fabrics Galore a second chance once I've eaten into my huge new Liberty print stash a little bit. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes when I visit again!