Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garment District Weenie Alert

One of the benefits of running this Garment District web site is getting to meet and know the store owners and managers. Shop here regularly here and you will find "pockets of small-town warmth in a large city that can leave you feeling anonymous" (Dominique Browning). But last week I met Mr. Garment District Weenie and I'm still steamed about my encounter.

When I do a store review I always ask permission to take photos, and I like to do an interview as well. This puts my college journalism degree to actual use. I explain what Shop the Garment District is all about—how it's a service to home sewers, fashion students and budding designers, how stores benefit from the publicity, yada yada. All very up front.

Last week I went to Grayline Linen on W. 39th Street, a store that several readers have mentioned but one that I haven't reviewed yet. Introduced myself to the manager, gave him my card, was in the middle of explaining how Shop the Garment District is a free service that's helpful to both consumers and retail stores...when he abruptly said no and walked away. My jaw dropped open and I said "But no one has ever said no before!" to his back. To which he turned around and icily replied, "We aren't like anyone else." Clearly not, because the other store managers I've met are decent people.

I was and still am baffled by his behavior. He spoke perfect English, so no language barrier, and he was young enough to know about the power of the Internet. The store was quiet and I clearly hadn't interrupted him. I wasn't trying to sell him anything. So, unless there is a change in management, please do not expect or ask me to include this store here on Shop the Garment District or on my map.

A similar unexpected snubbing happened recently to author Dominique Browning at her favorite NYC bakery. What about you, readers? Have you experienced appalling treatment at a store in the Garment District, or elsewhere? I mean beyond things like harried or ignorant salespeople or long lines. I'm talking jaw-droppingly egregious treatment. Feel free to vent here.


  1. you should send him a link to your blog :-) I have visited many of the stores you recommended!

  2. OMG! how lousy is that :-(
    the stores i've been in have really mostly been run by super nice folks. it's such a shame that there are a few store owners out there who don't want to be welcoming to home sewers!

  3. In Montreal during PR Weekend, one of the store owners absolutely wouldn't let me take photos or anything in the store. Wouldn't talk to me and balked at any questions I had. A'ight. Sometimes I think people are just so so nervous?

  4. That is so strange! The few times I've been in there, the staff have been very pleasant and helpful. What a shame! I hope this person was not the store owner, though sounds like he might have been.

    Hopefully they have Google tracker, see this and offer an apology, and give STGD readers 10% off! ;)

  5. All my Garment District shopping has been done off the back of your recommendations. Sorry he treated you so horribly.

  6. That's a mystery to me too...some business owners just don't understand how powerful word-of-mouth is. Sewers talk!

  7. Former journalist here: It happens.

    Some potential interviewees are suspicious, sometimes paranoid. They have no idea how they'll be treated in an interview, and even subjects of major media stories are sometimes very unhappy. As I'm something of a control freak myself, I can't say I don't understand.

    It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong. He was rude, but, from this distance, I wouldn't go so far as to call him not "decent."

    If it makes you happy, if I need linen, this store won't be my first stop.

    But the fact that people or proprietors don't want publicity from sources with which they're unfamiliar or that some want to keep a low profile on the web is not unreasonable.

    If someone thought it was worth it, it might be helpful to visit the store with a laptop and show him what this site is about. What a great/small mediation/reconciliation story that would be. If I had the time, I would volunteer to do it.

    Take care. :-)

    New York Sewer

  8. I may have said this before, but I have had appalling treatment at Sil Thread and Steinlauf and Stoller. No, not everyone on the staff has been beastly, but enough have, enough times for me to have formed a very negative impression.

    Unfortunately, I have to keep patronizing these places because they have too many supplies I need. I also think that they don't give a blind bit of difference about their customers' views.

    I comment anonymously, because I don't want them drawing a bead on me when I cross their respective thresholds. :-)

    New York Sewer.

  9. Honestly, I'm going to have to chime in with the people who agree that your opinion sways them where they shop. I'm planning on moving to NYC in the distant future and use your experiences as a guide as to where I should and should not shop. So that guy just made me want to steer clear of there.

  10. I should add here that fortunately linen is a fabric that's readily available throughout the Garment District. The bargain stores across from this particular store carry nice linen at very reasonable prices.

  11. How rude! I can understand New York Sewer's point, but really there is just no reason why he could not have simply said, 'No, thank you. I'm just not interested in that kind of publicity.' or something similarly civil.

    Next time I walk by Grayline I'll be very tempted to stick my tongue out at them and yell "Weenie!".

  12. oh, I've got a good one for you, from the last time I visited a local yarn store. Here's the layout (essential to my story): When you enter the little bungalow (probably built around 1925), the checkout/payment counter is to your right. The doorway is somewhat narrow.

    As I opened the door, the proprietoress literally blocked my way. And with her hands on her hips and a disgusted look on her face, she asked, "How can I help you?"

    What I SHOULD have done is throw up my hands and say, "You know, I don't think you can." Instead, because I was so stunned, I said something along the lines of "Oh, uh uh uh, I just wanted to look."

    I never went back. She has since retired, and the bungalow sits empty. Good riddance!

  13. I can understand possibly being nervous or even paranoid but the person being down right rude is not acceptable. What the heck is wrong with people now a days? I guess having manners or social graces is a lost art. Ugh! Sorry you had to experience that.

  14. Who can say what's wrong with that fella ....? But I am sorry you were treated rudely. There is no excuse for that. If he wants to be unique or "not like everyone else" he might be off to a good start, but perhaps not what he had in mind.

  15. Oh Meg - so sorry for the ROTTEN treatment there! As I told you previously - I had a great experience there but was helped (alot) by two really wonderful young woman. So I don't blame you for not wanting to patronize this horrid man again but I do have to give his employees credit for exemplifying wonderful customer service despite their despicable manager's modeling of the contrary!!

    And you are correct - there are other linen ships in the sea!

    Thank you again, ever so much, for providing this great service! I guess we just add this to your "occupational hazards" list!!


  16. I'm a former NewYorker who now shops online. I choose where to shop online a lot based on your reviews because customer service is very important for online shopping. When I come up to the city, I shop my favorite stores but I'll probably try a couple of the ones I've found out about through you when I'm back next month. This one won't be one of them, though. I don't have that kind of time to waste.

  17. Three words - Witness Protection Plan. He couldn't do an interview with you because the people looking for him might kill him OR he was just rude so NEXT!

  18. SAS fabrics near LA wouldn't let me take photos either. The ladies who work there said that was the owner's policy. Nevertheless, I still send people there b/c they are reasonably nice (considering how busy they are) and I've found some real bargains there.

    I also have to keep in mind that a large % of people in LA don't really have a legal right to live and work here. But they do. They might not want to have pix of themselves or their workplace plastered on the internet. Or they guy might be in arrears on child support and not want to be found by his ex.

  19. Wow, it sounds as if you hit the wrong person on the wrong day there. I've had pleasant experiences at that store, and I'm planning to go back next time I'm in the city. But I've been waited on by women, not a man. They've been very helpful, finding what I've asked for and even pulling something out of the storage area for me. And I got that nice 40-inch or more "yard" when they measured. In fact, I turned yardage meant for a tote bag into a table runner instead, because they had given me so much extra.

    But speaking of lousy treatment, I do have a business card with my written "BEWARE" note on it, from a small fabric store 39th (which may or may not be doing business under that same name or management by now). The price of the fabric somehow changed between the quote I got in the back & when I got to the front register. When I protested and got the original price, I was charged about 15% sales tax. They were glad to see me leave the store & the feeling was mutual.

  20. Oops -- Had a case of PBC -- Posting Before Coffee. :( That should read "from a small fabric store ON 39th." Edit!

  21. I've been into Grayline once and was given the brush-off. And after reading about your experience, I'm not going back!

    Declining an interview can be done politely. It takes a special person to do so quite so rudely.

  22. Just got back from shopping there several times in one week. "Harry" -- I think that was his name -- helped me the first time, and we ended up laughing (he quoted a great low price for a gorgeous remnant to another customer, and I said I'd pay $1 more, so could we start a bidding war?). The other times, I was waited on by women whose names I didn't catch. They couldn't have been more helpful or pleasant. I wasn't the only customer in the store, and they seem to be thriving as a business. Inventory was full & prices were as reasonable as ever. Just wanted to give an updated report to let you know that I'm still confused about what happened there in March. I guess customers make them happy but interviews make them nervous?


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