Saturday, August 11, 2007

Disappointing road trip to Gaspereau Valley Fibres

Cate of the no sheep, Mrs. Yes and her family, Charlene & Miss R, The Boy and me all went on a road trip today. The ultimate goal was Gaspereau Valley Fibres, but we managed Just Us along the way, as well as a yard sale where Charlene and Miss R. picked up an awesome wagon and trailer (that's not what they paid for it!). How we fit three adults, two car seats with children in them, and a wagon and trailer into a small mazda, I'll never know, but we did it! Cate might even have pictures!

Gaspereau Valley Fibres was disappointing. Before heading out, I had read this blog post by Ariannah from a year ago. Doesn't that make Gaspereau seem like a lovely place? The shop itself is lovely, full of wool and other fibres from all over, a nice book selection, spinning wheels and other tools, all in a lovely setting with some sheep and some very attractive chickens. The service, however, left something to be desired. Certainly, no staff person offered us the service described in Ariannah's post!

Nobody greeted us when we arrived in the shop, even though there were no other customers there at the time, and two staff people. Charlene, Cate and I had arrived early, which meant we had to wait for Mrs. Yes and family, who were "cottaging", and therefore not coming from home. We had a quick look around the store with The Boy and Miss R., then went outside and waited quietly, down behind the store where we had parked the car, sat under a tree and ate our picnic lunch. The Boy and Miss R. had a quick game of hide and seek--our children are nice kids, and both very cute, and were laughing and playing. When Mrs. Yes and her family arrived, we left Mr. Yes outside with the children so that we could browse around the store without them. There were 4 children aged 2-8 (newborn Gabriel came in with us), and they were quite happily chatting away at a picnic table conveniently located under a tree outside the store.

When we returned to the store with no children (except Gabriel) and started browsing, I found a lovely row counter bracelet, that I decided to purchase. I picked it up and continued browsing the yarn. I was taking my time, enjoying the freedom to browse a yarn store while somebody else minded The Boy. I picked up many different yarns, browsed some books, looked around at various things. There was some Misti alpaca that I was seriously considering purchasing.

After a while, I realised that one of the two ladies working in the store seemed to be hovering, in fact, she'd been following me around for a while. Not actually saying anything, mind you, not making any conversation, asking if I was visiting, or if I needed any help finding anything. No, just hovering, and had been since I picked up the bracelet. Finally, she asked me if I was intending to buy it, to which I said yes. Her response was to tell me that we should go ring it in now, because it was turning into a bit of a picnic in the store (I think she was referring to the fact that Mr. Yes had just brought the children in to see if we were ready to leave yet--we'd been there for a good twenty minutes at this point, without actually being approached by either staff person until now). So, a staff person finally approaches me, but it's not to ask if I was finding what I needed, but rather it's to tell me that she thought I should pay for the bracelet in my hand now.

I'm a little dense, so I didn't realise right away how odd this was. As I was paying for the bracelet, I realised what was going on. SHE WAS WORRIED I WAS GOING TO STEAL THE DAMN BRACELET. I was nowhere near the door at this point, and was actively browsing yarn. In fact, I had fully intended to buy yarn at the store today, but she rushed me to the cash register without asking if I was done because she thought I might forget to pay for a $20 bracelet. Gaspereau Valley Fibres lost a sale from me today, at least $30 in Misti alpaca for sure, possibly more yarn if I'd been left to browse longer, or better yet, been asked if I needed any assistance or engaged in friendly conversation of any kind. I am stating right now that I will never spend another penny at Gaspereau Valley Fibres after my experience there today. I am very glad that Gaspereau is not my local yarn store, and thankful that the lovely people who run my local yarn stores would never make me feel like a thief.

It gets better too, but I'm going to let Mrs. Yes blog the next part, because it's her story to tell! Lesley, I hope you tell it well, because I'm still fuming about the whole experience today!

However, the day was not a complete loss. Just Us is lovely, and the wagon, well, the wagon will serve Miss R. well for a long time to come!

33 comments:

jkleclerc said...

Wow, you really do not strike me as a thief, and 20 minutes in a yarn store is almost nothing really. I spent 4 hours in one today and was not accused of shoplifting or being rowdy once.

However, that is not the first time I have heard negative comments about the owner of gaspereau. That is quite dissapointing.

Alison said...

It's my dishonest face Julie. I generally take The Boy with me as a distraction, and get him to break stuff one one side of the store while I pocket stuff on the other side. We're a highly trained team of crack yarn thieves.

Jennifer said...

You're a lovely person! I've never been to Gaspereau Valley Fibres, but I have the distinct impression that they're not used to being so busy. They probably felt a bit out of control, which is not surprising considering their unhelpfulness. If they want their privacy, they can have it.

I would write a note of complaint to the owner. Then, put it out of your mind. This is their problem not yours.

Deb said...

They lost me for good after a very disappointing visit in June. (I think I bitched about it at KOL at some length.) Sorry to hear you had a bad one too.

Cate said...

Wow, Alison, you had that posted before I even got home. We're off to the zoo today, but I'll try to get the photos off to you asap.

Moe said...

Wow. The lovely staff person you mentioned/heard about was Julie, and I heard she doesn't work there anymore (she was so nice! so helpful!).

That totally sucks. I'm quite bummed in fact. GVF is also playing with fire with their lack of customer service if I know the knit-blog-gossip world.

Do you know who else carries Misi Alpaca, blue sky alpacas, and fibre/spinning supplies if you are hankering for a road trip? Sunrise Mercantile in Tatamagouche. Suzy Belt might be the nicest/helpfulest person I've met.

Tatamagouche's just an all round fun trip - beach, ocean views, a museum featuring former local giantness Anna Swan, a small but really cool art gallery "downtown."

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience... it really is too bad because it is such a lovely store (minus the customer service) I think I may try Tatamagouche as well. It's much more convenient for me to go there then all the way to the valley. I didn't know there was one there until the other day.

Michelle

Lesley said...

Hey Alison, I just posted about my end of the experience.

And if you want some Misti Alpaca, go to the Loop, it's cheaper there :)

Miss Me said...

my mil was just saying that she'd like for us to go to gaspereau valley fibres... guess we'll do other yarn stores instead!

Alison said...

Michelle, did you have kids with you when you had your similar experience? What about you Deb--were the girls with you?

Miss Me, go to London-Wul. Or maybe the one in Tatamagouche that Moe mentions above. Or Lismore sheep farm wool shop--their website says that they have the barn open during the summer so that visitors can see the sheep up close! Sounds welcoming, doesn't it?

Jess said...

Wow. I was in the valley yesterday and saw the sign for Gaspereau, but we were already a little late, so didn't make the detour. Now I'm glad that I didn't.

Anonymous said...

Nope I didn't have kids with me... but I was followed around and rushed to the cash register... London-wul is great and Heidi the owner is fabulous. Another good store is Cricket Cove, in Blacks Harbor, NB about an hour from Saint John ... pretty far for you and I even only make the trip even now and then ... but it is a great store and worth spending a couple of hours browsing (which you are allowed to do there)

Michelle

Anonymous said...

I do admit to being there for a while and picking things up and then putting them back and then picking them up again. But seriously I was visiting from NB and its yarn ... I mean who doesn't pick things up, find something else then put it back, and then change their mind 20 times before making a purchase.

Michelle

Alison said...

Thanks for the comments Michelle. It's good to know that I didn't just totally imagine it. The thing is, we felt from the second we arrived that we were unwelcome and invading their space. It's not like the kids were screaming and running around when we arrived or anything, they were quiet, and interested. My son asked me a few times, while a staff person was hanging over me, but not talking to me, how the spinning wheels worked to make yarn. What better opening could you want, as a staff person, to jump in and give good customer service by saying "let me show you how it works"?

The staff at GVR missed so many opportunities on Saturday to make lifelong repeat customers out of us. From the moment we arrived. And it's amazing how many people have commented or e-mailed to describe similar experiences.

Deb said...

My great experience with Julie was actually with my girls, who loved the knitted toys. Julie was perfectly lovely with them and even told Amy she's name one of the dollies after her.

My bad Brenda experience was kid-free and was in fact two of us 35 year old girls and our respective 65 year old moms.

Moe said...

I can second the london wul plug - the owner had a booth at pacafiesta and I bought some roving and a niddy noddy from her last year.

I would have spent every last $ I had in my purse (almost did) because she was so very very awesome.

Hmm, my mom and I should take a road trip up there this fall (she's a rug-hooker).

leslie said...

Hi, I just across your blog from YarnHarlot and your experience at GVF is so unfortunate. Julie was very nice and accommodating -she even let me try couple of spinning wheels for about 1/2 an hour- so it's sad that she's no longer there. My last visit was not so friendly -rather cold and after a quick look in the store and checking out Caprice the alpaca and the chickens, we left. We did chat with Brenda's husband about the farm and he was very friendly. happy knitting and yarn shopping, leslie from hfx.

Lesley said...

Huh...Alison...you read the e-mails so you know she's at least peeked at your blog. I wish she'd come back and see the comments...we have 3 people here citing similar experiences. Maybe then she'd realize it was not my imagination.

Mary said...

I can third the London-Wul recommendation. I tried to leave a comment the other day on Lesley's blog post about the other half of the bad GVF experience, too, but for some reason my computer was being a beeyotch and wouldn't let me.

Hope said...

This is so horrible Allison. I can't believe someone did that to you. I've usually had positive experiences with GVF (like I've said over on Lesley's blog) and have spent a lot of money there over the years (not to mention all the others I've convinced to spend craploads of money there over the years.)

I do have to admit though, last time I was there (end of June) I felt more like I was intruding on someone's home, rather than welcome like I did before.

Barbara from Nova Scotia said...

WOW. I haven't been in GVF in over a year, Julie was still there with Brenda. They actually opened the store to me and my girlfriends when we didn't realize the store was closed that day. I found Julie very helpful and lovely and Brenda standoffish. But when I asked Brenda questions she was quite helpful. They do have a fantastic store there. It's unfortunate about the customer service of late. I am re-thinking taking a trip over there again. Too bad.
I got my Misti Alpaca at the Loop the day of the Harlot event. I love it!

CardiLover said...

I'm not anywhere near GVF, so not likely I'd get that treatment in person. I certainly won't order from them online after your experience! You know, we have a LYS owner out here who is gruff and a bit nasty. Thankfully, most of her staff make up for it, though I know their business goes up on Mondays when everyone knows she's not in the shop. Seems the owner of GVF has run off her best staff members...I'll bet her business has steadily declined since the wonderful one left!

Deborah said...

I met Brenda late last week for the first time and was not only delighted with the store, her animals and view, I was also delighted with her. I spent an hour there and she spend a great deal of that time with me. I'm a new knitter, less than a year. LK Yarns in Halifax has classes so I signed up, and was hooked, not only on knitting but the owner, staff and all the kind knitters I met while in LK. Reading your notes reminded of one of my greatest life learnings. I was teaching an adult class of 30 participants on Conflict Resolution. While on break several complained about one of the ladies in our classroom They went on to describe her behaviours as they saw them. She rarely talked to anyone, rarely smiled, appeared to be sharp when asked questions, didn't have lunch or break with anyone, antisocial and not a team player. I gave them some tips on how to handle the situation. At the end of the day while preparing for the next day, I noticed the "antisocial" lady waiting for me. So, I asked her to come in for a chat. She asked if the techniques and tools I was teaching could be used in personal situations. I said they could and went on to give her a few of my own personal examples. She asked if our conversation could be confidention, I told her yes. Then she went on to tell me about how her grown son was abusing her, how humiliated and naked she felt and alone. My heart broke not just for her, but for the others who would lose an opportunity to get to know someone so lovely because they made assumtions about this persons behaviours. Instead of confronting the situation, her team chose to help her in her isolation. Assumptions are communications worst enemy. Perhaps speaking to Brenda stating even in an email how her behaviour made you feel, giving her an opportunity to explain, apologize or say nothing. She may have been going though something in her life. I can bet she did not wake up thinking..."who can I a crap on today". Perhaps she has never been given feedback on her behaviours, something I find happens when you are a independent business...who knows what the reason is... and unless she receives the feedback, we will never know if she would have responded.

Deborah from Halifax

Alison said...

Hi Deborah. Thanks for your comment. I can't reply directly because I don't have a blog or an e-mail for you. I just wanted to say that we did e-mail Brenda about this. She was very defensive about certain of her actions, things that we weren't even questioning her on (for example, at one point we were outside waiting for the friends we were meeting to arrive, and two of the children found their way behind the store playing hide and seek. She very nicely told us that it wasn't really childproof back there, and probably it would be best if we kept them away--this was fine, and not an issue, she was right, and we made sure the kids stayed away from there--however, she felt the need to defend this action in her responses to our e-mail, when we didn't even mention it, because it wasn't an issue). And she didn't acknowledge any of the issues that we were actually complaining about. The thing is, we went in expecting a pleasant experience, smiling and happy, and nobody in the store even acknowledged our presence for the first ten minutes. I know people have bad days, I've had them too. But if you're a small business owner, you can't let your bad days get in the way of customer service. I work in a busy public library. I have bad days. But I still need to greet every patron through the door in a pleasant manner. It's no different from a small business that way.

Anyway, I guess I wanted to say that we did give the staff at GVF the opportunity to give good customer service while we were there. Then we did e-mail afterwards to let them know how we felt. Brenda had an opportunity to "apologise, explain, or say nothing" as you mentioned above, and she chose to either defend actions that we weren't questioning and to say nothing about actions we were complaining about. I'm sure she didn't wake up thinking "who can I crap on", maybe we unwittingly hit some wrong buttons when we walked in the door, as customers do. I don't know.

Anyway, you say that you only met her for the first time last week. If so, then I can only say it's wonderful that you had a good experience. Maybe our e-mailed comments to Branda did some good, or maybe not. Maybe we did just catch her on a bad day. However, should you ever come to my library as a patron, you'll never even know if I'm having a bad day or not, because I won't let it interfere with my work.

Again, thanks for commenting.

Alison said...

One more detail in reply to Deborah. There were two staff people in the store that day, and neither one of them showed any interest in helping us out. So if someone was having a bad day, they were both having a bad day. I still don't think it's an excuse for bad customer service. I've worked plenty of retail, including coffee shops and grocery cash, and you just smile and be pleasant, whatever you're actually feeling.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I live near GVF and was going to drop in for some yarn but now I don't feel comfortable doing so. I will find another yarn store.

Alison said...

To Anonymous: give them a shot, and judge for yourself. Others have had better experiences.

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Christine W said...

Unfortunate to read all the negative experience at GVF as I consider Brenda's GVF to be the best and most relaxing fibre shop in NS:-) Also appreciated is Purl, the resident cat, the Coltswald Sheep,LIamas, chickens roaming freely. It's always a pleasure for me, to visit as well as purchase yarns (favourite being the Coltswald yarn) plus something unique to this wonderful wool shop. Thank you and enjoy your craft. Cheers!

Alison said...

So you realize that was 8 years ago? While I haven't been back, I'm willing to give GVF the benefit of the doubt. Eight years is long enough that they may well have better customer service skills than they did on my visit 8 years ago. That doesn't change the fact that they were incredibly rude to us, and basically treated me like a potential shoplifter.

Anonymous said...

Alison, I have just been in the shop. It's 2015. I felt horrible when I left. It was almost as though I wasn't good enough. I felt judged. Bottom line is, they don't like children and that's fine, they should indicate so on their sign and website. Also, if they only want to cater to a certain crowd, then create a membership and have a club. I'm thinking it will be aimed at the baby boomer age and only to those who have grown children who are doctors and lawyers. Just another snotty day in "back 'o' wolffle

Faye Langille said...

And great dish and chips, I hear.

Faye Langille said...

That should have been fish!