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Needle Exchange of the Knitting Kind

November 1, 2007

A week ago, my daughter and I ventured back into Main Street Yarn in Mill Creek, WA looking for some yarn for a hat for my grandson. We went there because it was convenient to the dentist office where I met my daughter. We got some really cute yarn – I’ll show you in another post. However, I also needed another circular needle for the yarn I’d chosen for my granddaughter’s hat. This visit, the lady was quite helpful (unlike my previous visit) and they sold me a size 5 (I have a size 4 and a size 6.) However, we were in a hurry because Cayden was full of mischief and kept knocking the balls of yarn off the shelves. He thought it was funny – stinker – I sure didn’t. So we bought the stuff and left in a hurry. I didn’t bother looking at the length of the needle the lady sold me. I vaguely remembered her mentioning 16″ and I didn’t think anything of it. I’m a visual person and didn’t look at the needle to know it was one of those silly short ones that have about half the length necessary for my hands to knit anything – even small stuff! I noticed all this once I got home and promptly put the receipt in the packaging with the needles so I could exchange them when I was next passing by there.

So, I did that today. I swear… I am never going to shop in that store again unless hell warms over and I have no other options. The ladies that work there have no sense of customer service whatsoever. They have no warmth, no personality, just a major sense of uppityness. The lady in charge – some shorthaired lady – proceeded to snottily tell me, “We don’t exchange needles. It says so on the receipt.” HUH? Like who on earth reads their receipts for the fine print? And why on earth would you NOT exchange a needle? It’s not like I used it and was asking for a refund, for goodness sake. Gaylen explained to me that no stores exchange needles.

And why on earth not? Can someone please explain to me why there is any logical reason that a knitting store would not exchange a wrong size needle – providing you have the receipt, the original packaging (which, by the way is a ziploc bag, so it’s not like they have to even repackage the dang thing), and it’s within say, two weeks? How on earth does it harm the store owner to do that for someone? And at $16.50 a pop, who can even afford to make that mistake? I’m sure I’m not the first one who has ever purchased the wrong size needle. In fact, I know Gaylen’s done it. She told me so. LOL.

I’m just irked. So I have decided if I ever open a yarn and fabric store (and who knows, I might someday when I retire) I’m going to allow needle exchanges. In fact, I’d even have a needle sharing – so that old Aunt Bessie’s estate that had nine zillion mismatched or old knitting needles could donate them, and then someone who wanted to knit and who didn’t have the right size needle could just come and check out a pair of needles. Just like a library book. How great would that be?

A knitting needle exchange. I see a huge benefit in it – for store owners and knitters alike. You draw the person in to borrow the needles, and they buy a skein of yarn. Duh. Makes GREAT business sense to me.

So Main Street Yarn can keep their attitude. This is my third time there and twice I’ve come out of there upset and ticked off. And knitting is supposed to be a calming, relaxing event.

I say – let them exhange needles! Promote safe knitting. Cuz unhappy knitters are not a good thing. At all.

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7 Comments
  1. November 2, 2007 2:53 am

    That store would certainly never see my business again. I would love to know the logic behind “no exchanges.” I guess their logic is “if she bought the wrong size, we can sell her the right size. Ca-ching! Another sale!”

    …and seriously, $16.50 for a set of needles?!?! Clearly, I have not been in a knitting store in a long time. Perhaps I should just forget about taking up knitting again….

  2. Elabeth permalink
    January 19, 2008 3:58 pm

    The logic behind not allowing needle exchanges is that since the package IS just a ziploc thing, someone could buy them, take them home, use them on a project, then bring them back and exchange them for the size she needs for her next project. Not only has the store lost money, but if they put them back out as new then someone else is going to be buying used needles and paying full price, which isn’t fair.
    Believe it or not, there have been instances of people buying DPN’s then going out to the car to finish a hat and bringing them right back wanting a refund. Stuff like that happens. Sometimes people even do things like stick a needle in their hair or mouth to hold it etc. which I’m sure you wouldn’t want to buy afterwards.
    Unfortunately those few bad apples spoil things for everyone else. The LYS just can’t afford to take the chance.

  3. Deb permalink
    January 20, 2008 12:43 pm

    As a former LYS worker, we have seen people do what Elabeth says – they bought a needle, went out, sat in their car (right in front of our floor to ceilling windows in the front of the store) pop the needles out of the package – finish a sock toe (and yes – one was held in her mouth!) – then bring the set of needles back in for a return.

    We sell, not “rent” needles. No returns on needles and books is posted behind our heads over our sales counter and on the receipt.

    Your idea on renting the needles is interesting – all you have to do is come up with the needles to rent – let us know how that works out for you.

  4. January 20, 2008 2:51 pm

    I’m going to join in on the comments of those who say that folks actually do:

    1) purchase needles
    2) use needles for their intended project
    3) return needles
    4) stick said needles in mouth, dig in ears, scratch their head, and more…all with the same needles
    and then (shudder)
    5) return needles

    We have a return policy because people would stand at the counter and ARGUE with us that they hadn’t used the needles–when they were obviously bent from use (US 1 dpns) or obviously used (schmeggie on the nickel part of a Turbo).

    It’s not sanitary, it’s not fair to sell a used needle as new, and it’s just plain OBNOXIOUS to purchase/use/return something to finish a project and not pay for it (because you return it for a full refund).

    Most people are AMAZED at what transpires when you work with the public, and I”m sorry to say that there’s a small percentage of knitters out there who actually ABUSE the kindness of store owners–returning things, using things, stealing things, and more. How about the folks who hand-copy a pattern out of a book because they don’t want to have to pay for the pattern? Surprising, but it happens ALOT

    That said, 99.5% of my customers are wonderful–it’s those petty few that make us set policy that eveyrone has to abide by.

  5. January 21, 2008 1:30 am

    Love your let’s promote safe knitting stance, very community minded of you. I checked the store’s website [such as it is] and those ladies pay $60 for the privilege of stitching and bitching! In Sydney we can do that in a pub for the price of a coffee or whatever, but I digress, they pay for the lessons, the gossip is free.

  6. Suann permalink
    January 21, 2008 11:58 am

    The shop ladies were right to sell you a 16″ needle for a hat…unless your granddaughter has a gigantic head, 16″ is an appropriate length for a hat. I’ve made hats for people with 23″ noggins with a 16″ needle. If you got a longer needle, the stitches would be overstretched, it would be difficult to knit, and your hat would be a mess. If your hands are too big to knit with a 16″ circular, then you need two 24″ circulars or one 47″ circular and you’ll need to learn how to knit with 2 circs or the magic loop method. It was your choice to ignore the woman when she tried to explain it to you.

    As consumers, we are all responsible for knowing and abiding by the return policies set by stores. While you may have been honest and just wanted to exchange the needles, there a plenty of people who abuse yarn stores, and it isn’t right to give shop employees a hard time for doing what their job requires. People forget that yarn shops are businesses and not community centers or libraries. When you open your business, let us know how it goes paying the rent, utilities and employees when you’re loaning out those needles.

  7. January 21, 2008 6:31 pm

    I appreciate the respectful posts above from Rob and Magik Quilter. Thank you.

    But now I’m just pissed, SUANN. This is my blog and my corner of the Internet and when people come to visit me, I expect politeness, not snottiness and rude insinuations and condescending attitudes.

    The continued attitude and snottiness I’m receiving from you is uncalled for. First, if you read my subsequent post, it clarifies several points. My issue was NOT about policy. It was about her ATTITUDE, which I’m CLEARLY GETTING MORE OF FROM YOU AND YOUR ILK.

    Second, the pattern I was kntting for the hat was knit in the flat, not the round, so I could use any size needle. And my grandson DOES have a gigantic head and when I knit his flat hat on a 16″ it was too small. The stitches were falling off.

    Just because one size works for one doesn’t mean it works for all.

    And your comment about me ignoring the woman – she never explained anything to me. You assume I am a novice knitter. I’m not.

    Finally, nobody cares about your business. Don’t you get that part? When a customer comes to the store – any store, Target, Wal-Mart, the LYS – they aren’t there to make your day. Customer Service 101.

    I’m done with this topic and closing it from further comments.

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