Wow. Just, Wow.

Every now and again people surprise me in a big way.

A couple of weeks ago, in upholstery class, I finished covering the core of my current chair. All that's left to do is make the cushion covers for the back and the seat. Because of the size of the cushions and the "grain" of my fabric, I need about 3.5 yards to finish up. Can you guess where this is going??

I laid out the cushion cover "patterns" (aka: the deconstructed old covers) on my remaining yardage and my heart sank. I only had enough to do one side of each cusion and MAYBE, if I cut it well, I'd have enough for the boxing, which is that vertical piece that fits between the top and bottom of the cushion. I talked it through with my instructor and figured out how much additional yardage I'd need. So... no big deal. I'd just stop at Joann Fabrics over the weekend and pick up what I needed.

Oh... the optimism of an occasional sewer.

I'm sure that those of you who work with fabric more often than I are aware of the nuances of buying fabric. Things like "exclusive" to a store means that you can't buy it ANYWHERE ELSE. And that you should probably buy what you need up front because anything can be discontinued at any time.

Yeah. Totally discontinued. All that was left in the store was the 8x8 fabric swatch (which I bought). The manager confirmed that there was none at the other store in town or in the warehouse. He recommended that I check the website. I left the store feeling desolate and angry and I checked as soon as I got home.

sad, little 8x8 swatches

All that was available on the website were 8x8 fabric swatches. Well, at this point I was desperate so I put a bunch of the swatches in my shopping cart. I figured that, at least, I could make a "patchwork" underside for the cushions in the correct fabric.

Two days later my phone rings and it's a number I don't recognize so I let it go to voice mail. Turns out that it was Wendy from Joann Fabrics' fulfillment center. She called to make sure I understood that I was ordering swatches and not yardage. LOL!  So, I called her back and got HER voice mail. I left her a message telling her my tale of woe and explaining why I was buying all the swatches. Then I half-jokingly added that, if she could find any yardage anywhere, I'd pay anything for it.

Well... two days later and my phone rang again. I recognized the number this time so I answered. Wendy had located yardage!!!!! I nearly fell on the floor. She went on to explain that it's against policy to ship discontinued fabric between stores so she was going to have to work out the logistics. I told her to order me five yards (not taking any chances this time!) if they had that much. About an hour later I got a call that the fabric was shipping to my local Joann's and that the store manager would call me when it arrived. A few days later my local Joann's manager called me with the good news - the fabric was in her store! It was a March Miracle. Seriously.

This kind of "above and beyond" service is pretty rare these days so, when it happens, I'm always sort of gobsmacked. And, no offense to Joann Fabrics, but I never expect this level of help from them. I shop there often and have come to expect very little. A perfect example is the fact that the local stores don't have access to the store inventories on a national level. My fabric was found in a store in Texas. However, my local store would never, ever, know that. And, even if I got on the phone and called every Joann's in the country, the best they could do would be to ship the inventory to my local store. In other words, I couldn't pay the Texas store for my yardage and have them ship it directly to my home. This seems like a flaw. The other rule that baffles me is the "no shipping of discontinued merchandise". I mean... if a customer wants the last of your discontinued "exclusive to Joann" fabric, you'd think you'd want to get rid of it quickly.

Regardless of these gripes, I don't have enough words in my vocabulary to describe how happy I am to have my fabric and how incredibly grateful I am to Wendy for going above and beyond. It's people like her that will keep me shopping at their stores.

Here's to more great customer service experiences in our lives!

- Alex


  1. I love hearing about good customer service like that :) And yay for you getting the fabric you needed!

  2. What a fantastic experience! I would have never imagined that from JoAnns, but I'm extremely happy to hear it. Do we get to see a photo of the finished chair?

    1. Yes! As a matter of fact, I have to take photos of all my upholstery projects for my instructor's new tack-board. So, I thought it might make a fun blog post to recap the chairs I've worked on. :)