For more than 30 years, the Great American Quilt Factory, also known locally as GAQF, has been a staple of the local fabric scene... The closest shop to my house, and the first store I hit when we moved here 11 years ago, it was never my favorite (prices at the high end, not my favorite for customer service), but they offered great classes, had a huge fabric and thread selection, and generally served as a hub for all sorts of quilt-y activity.
About 2 weeks ago, out of what seemed like nowhere, customers received an email (or in my case, oddly, snail mail) stating that the owners would be retiring immediately, and the store closing sale would commence ASAP. The letter detailed the exclusivity of the sale and the need to bring your invite to shop- as the sale would not be open to the public until 2/16.
So I rearranged my work schedule to spend a Thursday morning bargain hunting. I arrived before the store opened, as a serious shopper should, and noticed the first problem immediately.
The "secret sale" was advertised in 3 feet high neon letters... Hmm... By the time the store opened there were at least a hundred people in line, and more pouring in every second. No invites were checked. The store rapidly became a teeming mass of humanity. There was no room to walk, let alone shop- or even breathe. It was bad enough for me, but for the elderly shoppers, or moms who had brought little ones with them, it was a very special kind of hell.
Lines at the cutting tables were stacked 25 deep... Some older, highly overdressed gentlemen were directing people to sign up for the prize drawings- a very very bizarre collection of non-fabric related electronic items that you could win by earning "prize dollars" through inane things like revealing your weight, or bringing in multiple family members. These gentlemen turned out to work for the consulting firm that was apparently actually paid to "organize" this disaster. If I knew the name of the company, I'd lodge a complaint with the BBB.
I finally made it to the front of the cutting table line- and while I was in the line, a fire marshall came in to examine the chaos. He ordered people out of certain areas, and stopped the influx of new shoppers, but only temporarily. It didn't seem to help at all, and I wish so much he'd put a stop to things then.
I made it from the cutting table to the checkout line after about an hour in the store- and that was when it got really, really, horrible. The line wasn't just stagnant, it was not moving, not even an inch. After 15 minutes without any movement, someone went to check- and it turned out there were 4 lines- and only 2 were "real"- the other 2 were not being served at all. Guess where I was? Yeah. Fun. They started feeding from all 4 lines at that point, and we began to move foward at a pace that would have shamed a snail. After 2 freaking hours, I had made it about halfway to the front.
Yes, I waited in the line for 2 hours. I had cut fabric, and a gorgeous full bolt of high quality black solid, and a huge collection of aurafil thread, and damnit, I was going to buy it. Except I actually HAD to get to work by this point. The "consultant" could not give me an answer as to what to do about the items I had been trying to purchase for two full hours, and finally, I found a store employee who let me leave my full basket, along with credit card info, in the back room to purchase the next day.
Want to know what exactly made the line move so slowly? For a sale advertised to thousands of customers, the "consultants" did not advise the store to rent more registers or credit card machines than normal. So, they had 2 registers and ONE credit card machine to serve the hundreds of folks in line. Oh, and they weren't accepting checks, so, guess how everyone was paying?
My amazing husband went back on Friday (his day off) right at opening and went straight to the register. He managed to claim my items, but, thanks to the VERY crabby employee at the cash register, I ended up being overcharged- some thread made it onto the charge, but not into the bag. I still came out ahead, but, that really cut into my savings.
All that agony for this tiny pile. I'd be happier if you could see two more spools of aurafil. But that black will be put to very, very good use.
The saddest part was that this 30 year institution went out on such a horrid note. I sincerely hope the so-called "consultants" refunded every penny they were paid. I've never seen such a clusterf*** in my life- and if quilters weren't by nature such nice people, it could have been even uglier.