We really should title this post Quilt Shop Employees Are Probably Saints, because they are. If you’re connected to a quilt shop in your locale or have a fave place, you already know that your quilt shop staff is an amazing group of people. Even when they’re having a rough day, we know deep down they are ready to help us (and if they could just catch their breath, they’d even smile). This goes both ways, of course. Quilt shop staffers know that sometimes customers have bad days or get frustrated or can’t do quilt math to save their lives, so they are willing to work with them on whatever project they present. All that said, every once in a while, there are quilt-shop experiences that defy understanding on so many levels.
The scene opens in a quilt shop. Enter Guy. We don’t know his real name so this is what we’re calling him. (To all of the “Guys” out there, we don’t mean to besmirch your good name.)
So, Guy walks into the shop asking for help with some textile conservation. LQS Linda suggests Guy go talk to Peppermint Pati, because she’ll know. Peppermint Pati, a quilter with a few years’ experience and a lot of quilt knowledge, asks a few questions to better understand Guy’s needs. He says he needs textile conservation. Pati starts thinking of several places and people who work in the area of textile conservation. A person who specializes in textile conservation probably has a Masters degree, is highly skilled, understands different types of textiles, and the best options for preserving, conserving and caring for same, and has the skills to perform the often-labor intensive work. Pati recommended that he check out local museums that actively work in textile conservation to see who they might refer him to because of the particular skill set necessary for repair. Guy’s reaction to this suggestion was somewhat, um, out of proportion. (Read: He got snitty.)
So Pati asked more about the project, and the specific work needed. Guy then described a couple of childhood quilts that need new bindings. Replacing bindings is vastly different from textile conservation. Repairing older quilts and replacing binding is skilled labor in its own right. The person doing the work has to know how to do the work without damaging the quilt and where to locate fabric that will work with what’s in the quilt. Whether you’re a textile conservator or someone who can replace bindings on a vintage quilt, there’s a per hour fee associated with your specialty.
Guy quickly put the kibosh on that conservator suggestion.
“I’m not paying anyone $100 per hour to do something that anyone–that even I–can do easily if I wanted, but I don’t want to!” he said.
Pati, who has replaced many a binding, gave an eye blink’s consideration to the project, offering her going rate of $50 per hour. Guy’s demeanor and elevated voice level were a clue that he was not interested. Angry and frustrated, he left the shop none the richer for his experience.
And Pati and the other quilt shop employees (who had a front-row seat to this customer meltdown) were richer for their experience. Because, quite honestly, being treated with such disdain and still not telling this customer off, is a feat of notable distinction.
Quilt. Sew. Live. Breathe.