Just when you’ve decided that retail shopping has no future you come across a pleasant surprise in Oakleigh, Melbourne.
It’s called Craftee Cottage and as the name will imply it’s for people who love knitting and crochet.
Needless to say there are several wool stores in Melbourne. Some are quite okay but nothing special. There is one, in fact, quite close to my home which is so unfriendly that I have decided it’s not worth going there because the owner acts as if she finds customers to be a nuisance.
I have to make it clear that I am not referring to the Wool Store in Malvern which is known as Wondoflex Yarn Craft Centre and is extremely welcoming and so I go there very often. In fact it was this Wool Store which directed me to Craftee Cottage when I was searching for a special ball of yarn.
I appreciated their kindness so much that I will definitely continue to visit the Wondoflex Centre in Malvern.
But nothing can compare with the extra service that I received at Craftee Cottage which is at least 10 kms from my home. The owner and the rest of the staff obviously love their work. They know about knitting and there is no hard sell.
The visit reminded me of how knitting and craft shops used to be before those huge haberdasheries came into being. I always dread going into them because there is hardly any service and the whole visit is a wander through aisles and then a long queue at the end if one actually finds something to buy.
Compare this with Craftee Cottage and you soon realise that good service will always beat the internet. Personal good service is what makes a shopper come back over and over again even though retail may be taking a beating.
I believe that there is a great advantage in being able to feel and see a product before buying it, especially in a craft situation. And if one can discus its merits and get expert advice then the visit to the craft shop is a happy experience.
It isn’t easy to choose a yarn over the internet. Colours just aren’t the same online in many cases. And there is always the problem of having chosen the wrong thing and not being able to return it easily. That can be a disincentive for online buyers.
Some products are quite suited to online shopping, but when it comes to a hobby or a pastime then the entire shopping experience has to be emotionally satisfying. Selecting yarns and needles should be a leisurely experience. After all, this is discretionary shopping rather than simply going to a supermarket to buy bread and milk.
Ambience plays a major role in this type of purchase. So if we get a great welcome and can take our time in the store then we will always choose the store which makes us glad we came.
In other words, it’s all about “the feel good factor.” And it is the genuine personal service which will make me go out of my way to find it at Craftee Cottage.
How satisfying it is to discover a breath of fresh air in a harsh retail environment that often fails to deliver!