Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Open Letter to JoAnn Fabric and Craft

Dear JoAnn Fabric and Craft,

Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit a number of your stores in several different states.  I have yet to receive friendly, polite, or courteous service at any of your stores.  I have noticed that your stores consistently have "help-wanted" signs up.  That's interesting during these trying economic times when there are more workers than jobs available.  How is it that you cannot keep your stores fully staffed?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the fact that I cannot get friendly service in your stores, and you cannot keep employees working in your stores is related.  Either you are hiring anybody that says they're willing to show up for a paycheck, or you hire previously happy people and turn them into ogres overnight.  I suspect it may be related to nasty management because I can think of no other reason why people who are working in a store related to the things they love most (sewing and crafting) are so dang disagreeable all the time!

I am disgusted.  I really do not like giving your store any of my business, but since you've driven out every other fabric store in every town I've lived in, I have no choice.  If I want fabric, I have to go to your store and give you money in exchange for rude signs, rude people, and overpriced merchandise.

I am not joking when I say that I got friendlier service as a white Christian woman in an Arab market at noon during Ramadan, than I get in your stores.

I don't know what your policies are, or why your people are left to feel so undervalued that they cannot muster a smile or a thank you, or a polite phrase for the many hand-printed signs around your stores.  But I sure hope that you either fix it, or go out of business, because no business should thrive while treating people the way your employees treat people.


Mrs. CaveHair


Vanessa said...


And while we are at it, Joann...could you please hire people that know a little bit about:

#1 Measuring correctly.

#2 Cutting my material in a straight line (hello, you have a little indentation in the table!!!)

That is all.

clan of the cave hair said...

yes! They have them so scared that they'll lose their job if they give a single stitch more fabric than the customer ordered that they short me every time! And...(this is a manufacturer thing, not JoAnne's fault) have you noticed that fabric is no longer 60" or 45"? It is now 42" or 54"...but patterns are for 60" or 45". I liken it to Dryers ice-cream "half-gallons" no longer being anywhere near an actual half-gallon.

Kristina P. said...

Just another reason why sewing is stupid.

GRAMEE said...

Just last week, The store near me has a help wanted sign. I thought how unusual that was..
I have been looking for a new store since moving to Phoenix. In Utah I still has a couple of other choices.

Jillybean said...


I do a TON of sewing, and I only go there as a last resort.
Just yesterday I was at Hancock fabrics and I told the lady that they were much nicer than the Ladies at JoAnn's. She let me use my expired coupon becase I hadn't been able to find what I needed at a different store the day before (when the coupon was still OK) and she didn't charge me for 1/4 yard because the fabric I bought was in two pieces.
This compared to JoAnn's where I argued with the cutter over the 1" left on the bolt (she offered to sell it to me for half price) I told her to go ahead and cut it off then when I got home, I was 1" short on the longer edge of the fabric. (and one edge was longer due to the crooked cutting which I also argued with her about, the shorter edge was over 2" off)
Now what do you think they did with that 1" strip of fabric?
I've heard that they have cameras above the cutting table and the manager sits in her office and watches them.

Anonymous said...

How funny! I was at a Joann here in Boise getting annoyed just yesterday!

My mom worked for years at House of Fabrics until they got bought out by Joann in the mid-90s. She worked at Joann for about a month. They are horrible. It really is no wonder that their staff is always grumpy.

I've noticed the width thing too. Lame. I probably don't need all that ice cream. But I do need enough yardage to cut out my pattern.

Sewing is awesome, Kristina!

Jill said...

Your post made me laugh! I worked at Jo-Ann's while I was in college, and they really do not value their employees and let them know. I remember having a review and being told I had hit the top of the pay scale and would not ever be getting any more raises. They don't want to pay benefits to any employees, so they give you a very long list of tasks to complete in your very limited hours, and you get reprimanded every time you don't complete your list. I don't really remember being too grumpy myself while working there, but I have had run-ins with my fair share of grumpy Jo-Ann's employees and completely sympathize. It's been about 10 years since I worked for them, but it doesn't sound like anything has changed.

The Sartori's said...

agreed. I went the other day and asked four different teenage girls that couldn't have cared less for something and none of them helped me. I kept hoping to find an old lady that might just give a damn and understand what I was even asking for. Then I listened to them gossip about someone quitting while they cut my fleece, crooked no less.

And yet, I'm headed back there as soon as everyone finishes eating. I have not choice with another store.

April said...

AGREED! It's almost as bad as Michael's - where I worked in college. Actually - I would say it's worse for all the reasons you mentioned...

I am a newbie sewer, and it would be nice if I could actually ASK the people that WORK at the fabric store a question, and they could ANSWER it correctly. But no, Joann's is filled with 18 year old girls who have probably never operated a sewing machine, or 60 year old women who are retired and trying to get an employee discount but are too bitter to be nice and helpful....*inhale*

The Wixom Zoo said...

I hear ya. I went there last night to get fabric for a baby blanket and walked out with a $30 divet in my wallet. SOOOO EXPENSIVE and the lady cutting the fabric looked like someone added a laxative to her prune juice earlier in the day. (Yeesh!)

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you shoppers were a little nicer workers wouldn't be the way they are, looks like you walk in looking for something to complain about

Liz said...

Hi, I'm a new Joann employee in PA and have a few comments.

First, to the anonymous commenter: As a sewer I know when I come into a fabric store I have a pretty specific idea of what I want and know the fastest way to find it should be asking an employee. I expect them to be helpful and knowedgeable and I don't think any of the other commenters expected anything more than that. As an employee I expect both experienced and inexperienced people and am happy to take my time with both. Isn't that part of the definition of customer service?

Second, to the rest of the commenters, I'm very sad to hear your stories, but not surprised. I'm not sure if its the store or just retail in general that makes so many people cranky, but it does. My coworkers sometimes aggrivate me with the eyerolls at customers that have asked honest questions. Yes, I can't say I'm happy when I cut 20 yards of fabric in 2.5 yard lengths only to have the customer return it the next day, but it happens. And really, does it impact my life? No, this is my job. I'm here to help you find what your looking for, offer help and opinions if you need them and do it with a smile because I chose to work there. No one made me.

But what I will say is that the stores I have experience with don't schedule worker's time as efficiently as they could and at closing we could really use another person helping out. And because of this the employees are tired, especially the one's that close one night then open the next morning. It isn't a good reason, because it is easily fixable, but it's the only one I can come up with for the grumpiness we've all seen.

Third, our store actually does require employees to have some sewing experience, but I don't know if they all do. We are a smaller store.

So for myself, I apologize. You should be getting better service than you describe. The only thing I can suggest is a polite letter to the manager of the store. Or if you see an understaffed store, a call to the district manager because odds are the manager has been told how many people to schedule and when.

thegirls said...

Liz, I may just have to travel to PA to search you out! You sound like another addition to the list of JoAnn employees that understand customer service. Sadly, in nearly 30 years of sewing - in many different states - I do not need more than one hand to count the folks on that list.

My daughters and I stopped at a store in Austin to purchase home dec piping. We kidded on the way in that maybe living in Austin would make JoAnn employees a little friendlier... nope.

This morning, as we chuckled about the consistentcy of the curmugeonly "assistance" of disinterested empoyees, I found myself wondering if other sewers/crafters had similar experiences. This blog is only one of many - pretty sad.

We have decided that our next trip for fabric might be to an Arab market in the Middle East, to shop at noon during Ramadan...

All kidding aside - I work in retail and believe me, all the frustrations of retail exist in my jobs - late nights and early mornings, understaffed shifts, frustrated shoppers, etc, etc. Our manager faces the challenge of corporate demands that fail to consider the challenges at the store level. Nevertheless, she is scrupulous about customer service and we would lose our jobs if we underperformed in that critical area of job performance.

The failure of customer service, at JoAnn's, rests squarely on the shoulders of store managers. It has become painfully clear that customer service is not an ethic that is modeled or taught - and the internet provides PLENTY of great options for ordering fabric -which I vastly prefer to do.

So, Clan of the Cavehair - thank you for putting it out there!

Joanie said...

I just left my two month career at Joann's and can tell you they treat their employees like its a priviledge to work for them. They are micro-managed beyond belief. They are understaffed leaving quality time for customers non-existant. You have to sign more papers than than the emergency room. They short staff and are always hiring too. They write you up for cutting more than 1/4" fabric, they write you up for not signing in or out your ear piece, they make you take "working lunches" and not leave the building, they write you up for not being fast enought....but maybe it is the people who work there. (Thanks for letting me vent).