Curbside Fabric Retrieval Confusion on Both Ends

I am hoping that the curbside fad disappears after the pandemic is quelled.  Yesterday, I had a short but unorganized experience picking up more fabric for masks.

Last week, my sewing machine needle broke. In the middle of making PPE’s and a quilt, it was not good timing. I searched my drawers and came up empty, of course! I had not used my machine in a good 15 years! I proceeded to look online to find needles and most of the outlets on Amazon were taking 2-3 weeks to deliver, despite having Amazon PRIME.  We do have a local Joann Fabric, so I searched their website and found some needles that were reasonably priced. I also found more fabric I liked, so I ended up placing two orders.  Once the order was filled, I could just go to the store and pick up my order – or, so I thought.

Now, understand that I am not blaming Joann’s for the mess I saw online but after ordering I waited for an email. When none came, I started looking for how this experience had gone for others.  Let’s just say, I probably should have looked at that first!  Many people were complaining on the company’s social media sites that they had placed online orders weeks ago and had yet to be notified that their purchases had arrived! Worse yet, many had their orders canceled due to the store no longer having the fabric they ordered in stock (even though it said it was in stock when they ordered and paid)!

Oh, what had I done? I wondered to myself!

Since I had promised masks to a friend, I thought I would take one of my handy homemade masks and head to Walmart to look for sewing machine needles. I had fabric but the needles were essential to finishing my jobs.  Success! Walmart had needles, although not many, but enough. And, no, I did not buy ALL of them – only what I needed. I would be able to finish the work I had promised. I’d worry about my online order from Joann’s later.

But, then, yesterday I got emails saying my orders had been completed. The initial order, with the needles and fabric, was confirmed but the fabric had been canceled by the store. It was “out of stock.” Okay. I didn’t need the fabric. I had other pieces from which to work. My second order was just for fabric, and that order had closely followed the first. But, all the pieces were available and ready for pick up.

The company website says to check with your local store’s website first. Unfortunately, in doing so I could not determine whether our local store was open or not. One site said they were only open on Wednesday. Another said they were open seven days a week.  And, a third just said they had “abbreviated hours.” So, in the late afternoon, I announced to my husband that my orders were in but I was not sure the store was open for pick up or not. Since that was the case, I would just drive to the store and see.  At least, if they were not open, I could check the door to see what their hours were.

Upon arrival, I noticed the lights were on in the store! A good sign! I called the store as I was instructed to do. Almost immediately, it was picked up with an automated message stating the store’s hours, and I noted that they were open!  After a brief period of dead air, a real person came on the phone. I explained to her why I was there – for curbside pick up. Let me say here, that this whole episode took less than 10 minutes and the salesperson was very nice.

However, she seemed confused when I stated that I had received a notification my order(s) were ready.  She said she didn’t recognize my name or the orders but would check. However, she never asked me to spell my name. Can you see where this is going?

While on hold (about 6 minutes) two other employees picked up and asked if I needed help. I explained I was already being helped, that someone was looking for my order. Eventually, the person I originally spoke with returned to the phone. She said, no, I can’t seem to find your order. Are you sure you were notified for pick up? Yes, I am sure; I told her. Then, she mumbled something about not finding any orders starting with an “A” or a “W.”  What!? Politely, I said well, my name starts with an L….and proceeded to spell my last name for her.

Oh, well, that explains it, she said. It’s right here. I was looking for a different letter!  UGH!  I was happy that my order was there. It was just the fabric from the second order, however. She said she’d be right out with it.

Well, since this was my first curbside pick up for something, I got out of my car when I saw her come out of the store. She shooed me away, signaling for me to “drive up to the curb.”  Okay. No problem.  I had my license ready to show her who I was. I guess one of the reasons I jumped out of my car to meet her was that she never asked what I was driving. There were other cars in the lot.

Anyway, upon meeting her at the curb in my car, she looked at my license after I showed it to her (she didn’t ask and did not have a choice). I stuck out my hand for the fabric. She said, no – you’ll have to open your door or window so I can throw it in – I cannot touch you or your car.  So, I rolled down the back window down. Plop! The fabric landed on my back seat.

I asked her if it was just the fabric or if the needles I ordered were included. Unfortunately, this flustered her. I ended up showing her my receipt for the needles. Again, she wasn’t sure. So, rather than flustering her further, I said I would figure that out at another time.

With that, I thanked her and drove away. It was a quick and pleasant experience and both of us were patient and understanding with each other. But, there seems to be confusion with the way this curbside ordering and pick up is supposed to work – from both ends.

Whew! I  do know that I won’t be ordering anything more online with curbside pick up if I can avoid it – at least from this store. I felt bad for the employee and bad for myself, too!

In hindsight, my experience was better than most, but I think that their inventory processes need to be streamlined.

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10 Thoughts

  1. If you wrote this as a poem, it would be an ode! I’m glad it (almost) all worked out in the end. My wife and I picked up some fabric today (at a local quilt shop we were able to simply go in), and I’m going to dust off my own sewing skills tomorrow. I hope my masks turn out as well as yours have!

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    1. How are those masks coming along? When I read your comments, all I could think of was that you are a Renaissance Man! Sewing! Wow! I ran out of elastic and am still waiting on the “donation.” But, I found a different pattern that I am going to try. It’s fun to look at all the fabric choices, isn’t it?

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      1. I like to joke that the two most valuable things I got from high school are the ability to sew and to type with all of my fingers! (Also, I grew up in quilt shops. Thanks, mom!)

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      2. It’s good to know you retained your skills! We had to take both home ec and shop in middle school for the same amount of time (I think it was a semester each). I think I enjoyed them both – but shop class was new and more of a challenge but I still really enjoyed it and have kept what I made! I am making a quilt now but I’m cheating – it has panels! 🙂

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  2. I’ve made two now. The first one turned out to be too big, but still wearable. I made the first one for myself since I figured bigger was going to be easier to make than smaller. The second one, for my wife, came out better. I’m going to make a few more today and will probably just start making them on a regular basis. The fabric choices are fun, but I personally am just looking for something plain. I’d love to know what patterns you’re using. I’m using one I found here: http://www.fabricpatch.net/face-masks-for-covid-19-relief.htm. I like it because someone modified it so there are at least eight different sizes.

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    1. I am going to look at the pattern you are using. It would be nice to differentiate the size more. The pattern I have been using is found at this link: https://blog.japanesecreations.com/how-to-sew-a-simple-fabric-face-mask. It does offer three sizes but unfortunately, I am between the smallest and next size up. I am wearing the smallest because it fits the best. My husband, like you, needs a bigger size and he also wears glasses most of the time, so I although the larger size fit him, he was having fogging issues. So, I have been experiementing with putting a pipecleaner in as a metal nose crimp in a larger size and he likes that. Of course, those take longer to make but one has to be able to see when you are out or else it defeats the purpose. I just started trying some pleated masks and have not got one I like yet. I owe my sister (she’s in healhcare) some more and thought I’d try a different version. Lots of You Tube videos out there. It’s hit or miss. This is why I want to go take a look at what you are using. (Sorry for the long winded response.)

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      1. That pattern looks pretty good; I’ll give it a try, too. (I have a bad tendency to stick with the first type of anything I try. Aside from my wife, my track record isn’t always stellar in that regard.)

        One thing I picked up from the site I’m working from is to use the “close ties” from bags of coffee instead of pipe cleaners. They’re like a really heavy-duty twist tie. They work well. My daughter is making the pleated masks, but I don’t think they “seal” very well on the side of my face. Good luck!

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      2. LOL. Okay. Sounds good! Oh, that is a great suggestion about the coffee bags ties….how many have I thrown away over the years! Wow! Yes, so far, I do not really like the pleated patterns….neither does my machine (too much fabric). Are you guys still having online learning or is school done for the year? Just curious.

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  3. Yes, I might have broken a needle on the pattern I’m using, but I think it was more my technique than the layers of fabric.

    We are officially done with school here in Madison County, Alabama. We finished with distance learning, with the students’ families choosing between online materials or paper packets. Teachers spend the last week on contract preparing distance learning materials for the fall, just in case. How about your neck of the woods?

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