Tuesday, February 11, 2003

It's raining! Finally, it's raining. If the MSN weatherman is correct it will rain for the rest of the week. It will be gloomy but we are so in need of this that I won't mind at all. And it usually means good business at Skein.

I really enjoy working at Skein. The shop itself is so different from most of the others where I've worked or shopped. Ann Mary is very meticulous and is pretty much on top of things. She likes to move the yarns around to keep things looking fresh as well as to find room for new yarns as they come in. A lot of the shops that I've been to have a very cottage or crafty look to them. Skein is always tidy. Not a lot of stuff just sitting around. I think that's one of the reasons that a lot of new customers think there isn't much there until they've spent a little time browsing. When I worked at La Knitterie Parisienne it was always a struggle to find anything. The aisles are narrow, impossible for two people to pass each other. Baskets of miscellaneous yarns sitting on the floor made it even more congested. I never did figure out if there was a pattern to how they organized the shop. Mariposa wasn't as bad but still had more of a random way of displaying their yarns. At Skein, most of the time, everything is put away immediately. Even the stock room is tidy.

We also have a table set aside for customers to browse through patterns and books. Generally we try to get people pointed in the direction they're looking for, baby sweaters, men's sweaters or whatever. At La Knitterie there were several book shelves filled with pattern books and magazines that the customer has to try to leaf through with no place to sit. Then we had to go look for a new copy of the pattern. The stock room was worse than the sales floor in terms or organization. And very little room to find anything. But it did keep the patterns from getting all beaten up. Mariposa didn't have a huge selection of books or patterns but they were kept in magazine holders and were more or less organized by type. Not much room for browsing though.

I also like having a separate table for teaching. I can usually work with three or four people at a time and generally there's enough room for all of them to sit comfortably around the table. We do have a few customers who come in on a regular basis just to visit and they will also sit at this table. If I'm overloaded with students most of these visitors pitch in and help, either directly or by keeping the students entertained while I deal with the others. Some good friendships have come out of this arrangement. La Knitterie was totally different. There was a large table for students and others but it was so crowded and noisy that unless you were persistent and insistant you could get lost. Mariposa had a table too. Usually the owner was sitting there working on her current project. And most of the time there would be one of the other shop employees taking up one of the chairs so there would only be room for one or two other people. I guess it was friendly but I've had people tell me they felt excluded and not welcome. At Skein Ann Mary almost never sits down. If someone needs help with their project she will turn them over to me, unless it's something she can handle in just a couple of minutes. I like this. It really helps establish my credibility and at the same time frees her up to handle the salesfloor.

On busy days, like last Saturday and Sunday, I help with sales. It's pretty easy to do, given the layout of the shop. I can keep an eye on the students and help shoppers at the same time. Even though it gets pretty crazy sometimes. I could never have done this at either of the other two shops. Or not as easily anyway.

So I really enjoy going to Skein. I like being there. I may go by later today, just to hang out. And to see if there's anything new.

Thanks to everyone who sent greeting cards, emails and left comments for my birthday. It was a very pleasant day.

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