…by what they’re wearing.
Sage advice given to me by my father. He’d made that error, one time early in his banking career. A gentleman, clad in overalls, rather unkempt, had come in the bank and needed help. Dad ignored him, letting someone else help him instead. The president of the bank pulled Dad aside after the gentleman had left and told Dad that the unkempt man in overalls was one of their biggest depositors. He shouldn’t have brushed him aside. Dad didn’t make that mistake again, and he took that advice to heart. He passed it along to me.
It’s just good business.
Today, however, on my vacation in Highlands, NC, I could tell someone hadn’t learned that lesson.
Now, those of you who know me in real life know that I just don’t dress up much anyway. On vacation, the wardrobe gets taken down another notch to a t-shirt (generally some kind of geekish humor or NASCAR) and a pair of jeans. Today I was clad in a kewl t-shirt with a Venn diagram of ObiWan Kenobi’s speech in Star Wars (“You don’t need to see his identification… These aren’t the droids you’re looking for… He can go about his business… move along) and a pair of jeans.
I was excited to see in Highland’s weekly newspaper that a new knitting store had opened up. It was the first place on our list of places to go today. After some difficulty finding it (it opens to a back street, and the signage is, frankly, poor), we went in.
The owner sized me up in about 5 seconds. If she understood the t-shirt, I’m sure she relegated me to the same class of knitters who spend their days knitting infinite Dr. Who scarves in Red Heart. By her demeanor, it was obvious I wasn’t “her kind” of clientele.
I tried to start a conversation. “How long have you been open?” “About four months.” “I had a little trouble finding you.” “Well, we have signs, and it’s clearly marked.”
I gave up any social interaction.
As for her store… well… she’s displayed all her yarn by color, mixing wool, superwash, alpaca, acrylic, and you name it together because it’s the same color. There are tons of “art” yarns – you know, the kind that you’d mix together with another skein of something to make a scarf. There were very few books, precious few patterns. Some of the lack of inventory I can understand because the store is new… but there seems to be a basic misunderstanding of what serious knitters are going to be looking for.
Fortunately for her, some more suitable customers came in and gave her someone to talk to. I picked up a skein of Jitterbug sock yarn thinking I’d purchase it to be polite, then I quickly put it down.
I’d been judged by my appearance. Little did she know that I can go through a yarn store and purchase several sweaters worth of yarn at one time should I so choose, and should the yarn store have something that I like. I heartily support my local yarn shops because frankly, they don’t care what I’m wearing… they know me and they invite me in… even if I don’t purchase anything.
I felt no need to purchase something to be polite, as the politeness had not been extended to me.
If she’s in business next year when we visit, I won’t be back there. And I really can’t suggest that anyone else go, although they might have a different experience.