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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... art ... life

The Michael’s experience
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I ran out of 3854 Sunday night. First there were 2 strands left, then 1, then none. My progress on the peacock is heartbreakingly slow (I hadn’t realized how slow until I went back to the first page of the chart, which I had highlighted in pink and began highlighting in green) so it wasn’t a crisis. But it did mean that I needed to make a list of the floss I still needed, which meant making progress on the Get-The-Floss-Organized-I-Mean-It-This-Time project. I have a box of the bobbins I’m using currently, a couple of boxes of bobbins not in use, several bags of miscellaneous floss, a little set of plastic drawers with extra floss for the current project, and weirdest of all, a lot of floss in baggies paperclipped in numeric order to wire coat hangers hanging in a closet. The intent is to merge all this into 2 sets, current and not, organized somehow, so I can find what I need in finite time, and know fairly definitely whether I’m really out of a color or not. A friend who was moving gave me a whole lot of those Sterilite plastic chests of drawers, the kind with 3 drawers, each the size of a ream of paper, and I have all those baggies … those will figure in the answer but I’m not sure yet exactly how. Anyway, after much pawing through piles of floss, I arrived at a shopping list and went to Michael’s.

One of the things about Michael’s (and other not-exclusively-needlework stores) is that you can’t just take a skein from the 3854 bin and GET 3854. You must examine the label before you put it in your basket, or you may get 3853 or 3855 (which would at least be excusable) or 720 (which isn’t). Who puts the floss back in totally wrong places? When I find that, I “help” by leaving the misfiled floss on top of the rack. The other thing is that they are always out of random colors (probably; there could be some misfiled far from the correct bin but who knows?). Once I spoke to the manager after making a couple of trips only to find that they were STILL out of the color I needed and pressed him fairly hard about when they were getting more. He assured me that they would have it tomorrow because they got a shipment every day and their inventory system wouldn’t allow them to run out. He explained that when the floss was scanned at checkout, it was subtracted from the inventory and when they got low it was automatically reordered.

He really believed that. Here’s what happens when you arrive at checkout with a pile of floss. The clerk scans the first two skeins — this usually takes 3 or 4 tries because the bar codes are so small. She then counts the skeins and rings them up as 43 of whatever the last color she scanned was. The manager would probably have spent an hour scanning the individual skeins because he knows what happens to the inventory if he doesn’t. I’m sure if I had told him how it really works he would have said “They know not to do that.” It would be better if they would realize that some things are too small, and purchased often in too large quantities to scan individually, and that they just needed to keep an eye on those items. But they have a System, so they don’t, and that’s why I still have 4 colors I will have to get somewhere else.

I guess there is a lesson in here for me: if I really want to know what floss I have (and more importantly don’t have) it’s going to take more than putting it in drawers and hoping for the best.

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