Calico Corners WTH?!

ttoddAugust 21, 2011

Have I majorly missed something going on w/ this store? I just called my nearest store that I go to at least 2x/yr to find out if they have a bolt of Annie Selki Shalini fabric in Blue Marine in the store. The snoot on the phone tells me that they don't have bolts of fabric on the floor for sale that they are all sample bolts. Then she proceeds to tell me that the bolt is there but there is a 'grommeted' samople for me to see but it's small and won't show the full repeat of the pattern. But hey - w/ my credit card I can check out the 'grommeted' sample for 1 night.

So I ask her about cutting a small sample (which I've had done a million times over the yrs.) so that I can at least put the colors against DD bedding at home.

"Oh, we don't do that. We haven't done that for years.' Well that's funny - I got some 6mo. or so ago.

So I said. "Well what if I want to buy a yard or 2 to take home?"

"Oh we don't do that either. Everything has to be ordered."

'What?! When did that happen?"

"Of at least 2 yrs. ago?"

What the heck? If this is the way they are going to be I don't think that I want to do business w/ them anymore. I realize that I'm not exactly a 'High roler' in the fabric world but jeez!

Maybe they're becoming the RH of the fabric world in order to re-invent themselves.

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"Never accept a No from someone who doesn't have the authority to say YES" favorite quote.

Talk to the Store Manager.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:04PM
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Love that quote! I'm going down this afternoon anyways because I think that she's wrong.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:06PM
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Many of the CC stores have gone to that dismal model. Once the old manager of the store nearest me left, and I discovered that they no longer backed their guaranty of my window treatments, I wrote them off as a decorating source.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:16PM
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It could well be the same phenomenon that we are finding in all the stores...HD, Lowes and Kroger to just name a few. Everyone is cutting back on how much they stock and the variety of what they stock. The people at Lowes told me last Fall that they were not reordering anything that was not selling well. They were making notes of it as I was in there shopping.

The Kroger by my son in VA is going to stop having an open meat counter...everything will be in vacuum pack. There will not be any custom cutting.

All of this is to save huge amounts of money on inventory. No one can afford to stock " everything" that we want. It is not feasible with the costs of shipping and production and all the other overhead that is required..some one to stock and maintain the shelves...someone to work at all hours in the meat dept...waste and I could go on and on.

We all need to get ready for a LOT more belt tightening. You are going to have WAY fewer choices locally. There is another thread on this . Our local businesses can't compete with the warehouse online stores that have NO service and no help to speak maintenance is going to change the way we all do business as well as put a lot of small businesses out of the competition. Then your choices are going to really diminish . They will be decided in a way I think we are all going to be very uncomfortable with. c

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:19PM
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I've been a customer often( two chairs, sofa slips, drapes). After an absence of a year or so I looked in and was taken aback that there did not seem to be any lower priced ($25.00-ish) priced fabric. I didn't see any rolls of Ralph Lauren, either. Definitely a different look and feel in the stock and the sales staff. Do report back after your visit ttodd!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Agreed trailrunner!

ttodd, this is from their website:

If you live near one of our stores, our FABRIC APPROVAL PLAN allows you to try before you buy! You may borrow a bolt or hanging sample for two days. You'll be able to see the entire width and pattern repeat, and exactly how the fabric will look in the room with your lighting, floor covering, wall color and other furnishings. This is especially helpful if you're purchasing custom furniture.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:25PM
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Our local store has gone to this model. You cannot walk in and purchase fabric to take home with you. You can walk in and purchase it, and it will be shipped to your home. In all honesty, if it's going to be shipped anyway, I might as well order it on better priced sites. The only purchases I've made from CC since this new policy is for two fabrics I couldn't find at a better price.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:28PM
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They burned me years ago by making something the wrong size and refusing to fix it. I was stunned at their cavalier attitude at all levels and have never darkened their door since.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:33PM
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Just seeing trailrunners reply, which I am so very sad to say is surely very true. I order online but am still a very see it-touch- it kind of shopper. I have noticed, understood and hated the lack of choices I've been seeing. ;>(

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:35PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I would be very leery of ordering anything these days; remember Pierre Deux.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:43PM
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It's my understanding that many, if not all, of the CC stores have adopted this new procedure. You can purchase fabric at the store, but that fabric will be shipped to you, it's not something you can take home with you. This became evident when I needed more fabric for a client of mine. She had ordered fabric from CC and had it shipped to me to make some window seat cushions and covers. There wasn't enough fabric in the order that was sent to me, and when I tried to order more online, I was told it wasn't available. There are no CC stores within 200 miles of where I live.

I called my client, who has a CC store in her town. She went in to the store and was able to purchase the additional yard that was needed, but they told her she couldn't get it there in the store, but that it would have to be shipped!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 4:14PM
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We are already feeling the effects of what Trailrunner says in our area big time. That's why it's so important to support local businesses as much as possible. Although I have to admit there seems to be a lot of times when local businesses (at least in my neighborhood) make that hard as I've had some really poor service from them.

I've been in our CC a few times and was really annoyed at the snooty way the "help" behaved and truth be told a lot of what they carry can easily be found else where often for less. We have another large fabric store about 30 minutes farther south and I happily drive there to check out fabrics because 1. it's a locally owned business with oh so much character and 2. They smile at you when you walk in the door. Always a unique experience when I go. SOLD!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 7:13PM
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The demise of specialty retail stores can't be a surprise to anyone. The stores have been paying all the overhead to provide on site merchandise the customers can see, but then half of those customers go home and order the merchandise on line.

We have done this to ourselves.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 8:53PM
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lukkiirish...and one will still be here a year from now and one won't . Customer service makes up for price in my book w/o exception.

cindy you are right about that...I have been guilty of it lots of times with books....buying used on line or at local used store after seeing at Books A Million...but now the used place has gone under too....whew...we are in for it now me thinks. c

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Well despite of a torrential downpour I made the trek this afternoon. I checked out a large swatch of Annie Selkie Shalini in Bluemarine. It is so amazingly perfect! It totally ties together the multi grey striped bureau in her room w/ the leaf green and white bedding that I already had for her from Pine Cone Hill (also Annie Selkie) and the oil painting that my FIL did. Anyway - I hope to get a picture of it against the other stuff to get your feedback.

And I do plan on ordering it on-line w/o any remorse or regret!

In regards to what you've noted about the economy that is all very interesting. W/o thinking about it I recently started buying our fruit from a local farm. A bit higher price wise but I felt better about my purchase. My kids also noted the fresher taste.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:14PM
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Thank goodness for the Interior Alternative in Newark, DE. Ttodd, have you ever gone there? Incredible store, and fabulous prices.

Right off I-95, so very convenient to get to.

I just love picking up a pair of scissors and start snipping in there.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:32AM
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Cindyloo123 said it best:

We have done this to ourselves.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Hey Folks--

Just want to take a second and weigh in-- I am the VP of Creative Affairs for Calico Corners. I have been in this position for just over a year--

First of all-- any of you that have experienced less than excellent service in any of our stores, please let me know the exact details either here or at my direct email- We are always striving to improve our customer service.

Secondly-- our stores have gone from having bolts of instock fabrics to either mini-bolts (2 yard, full witdth pieces) or grommets (27" x 27" squares)a couple of years ago. Financially, it has helped our business continue to grow, and has lessened our inventory. BUT-- it has also been beneficial to our customers as well. Gone are the days when someone is sitting home and decides to make draperies that same evening (gone are the days when most people can run a sewing machine, or even have time to sew a button on let alone make draperies!) For home sewers, all fabrics can be ordered and shipped FREE to their homes (within a week depending on location)-- and since 80% of the fabrics we sell are for custom projects where we provide the labor, your fabrics are sent the next day to be made into draperies, furniture, or slipcovers from our warehouse to our workroom partners. When we used to carry bolts of fabrics, we could offer you about 1600 choices. Now we can offer you 7,000 fabrics (and counting). ALL are first quality. Our buying power allows them to be affordable. We are now able to have the newest fabrics available in the marketplace (when we were a stocking bolt store, new fabrics would be sent to the stores when there was room) Just like any stocking dealer, there is only space for so many 50 yard bolts of fabric. We were only able to ship new fabric selections as old bolts were sold off.
For swatching, if an item is on a mini bolt, we can cut you a swatch in the store. If it is on a grommet, we will order you a memo sample. Either a mini bolt or grommet may be checked out for 2 days. We had to start taking a credit card number as a deposit when the samples never came back. (I promise you this happened a lot)-- I understand the concept of shopping locally, but I have to believe, any bolt fabric store that doesn't follow our lead will not have the newest fabrics-- and probably will not be able to continue in business much longer due to the financial constraints of this outdated model. Also-- all of our furniture is made in the USA-- our drapery workrooms, upholstery shops, and slipcover cutters are all members of your local community. Almost without exception, Calico Corners is the largest employer for these vendors. Keeping them in business is something I take very seriously. So in a way, you are shopping locally. I will never outsource our labor to China or anywhere else. Whenever possible, our fabrics are woven and printed in the USA. This is a sort of outdated way of thinking, but one I don't plan on giving up.
I didn't mean for this post to be so long or so preachy-- but the thing I love about America is that everyone gets a chance to be heard-- The one point I want to make more than any is don't settle for sub par customer service-- We value your business-- and will do our best to keep you all satisfied-- I have to think all companies, large or small share in my view--
Again-- I enjoyed reading your comments (even the negative ones) How else is any company going to improve unless we get a report card from our customers-- and try to do the best we can to meet your needs.
Greg Lawrence
VP Creative Affairs
CalicoCorners Calico Home

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 4:42PM
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The fabric is 25% off right now at Calico Corners.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 4:43PM
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Hey Greg,

If you're looking for good people who are passionate about design, you make want to recruit on this forum! (not sure if the forum rules allow that, but throwing it out there)

Calico Corners would be full of knowledgeable employees who have a passion and talent for design.

....and would be happy to take full advantage of your employee discount.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 8:20PM
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I recently visited a CC store in Denver. I rarely get to shop CC, as there isn't one where I live. I was sad to know that they no longer stock fabric, however I understand why they have made this change. It makes good sense, from an inventory standpoint. I was pleased to know we could check out a large sample and either return it in person, or mail it ... When we order the fabric we will not pay shipping. The two ladies who waited on us provided above average customer service--- and knew we were only going to buy enough for accent pillows. IF WE WANT BRICK AND MORTAR STORES TO SURVIVE - WE MUST GIVE THEM OUR BUSINESS. Again - the take home sample that you can borrow is large and costs nothing, so long as you return it in a timely fashion...many stores will only give you what I call a "snip" for free...usually no longer than 4" square. I like the new system.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:25PM
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Where are you located in CO? I'm in CS and the drive to Denver is never one I look forward to. You don't have to post, but I am a mess of adrenaline just driving into Denver Fabrics parking lot. It is always fun with so much fabric and ideas abound. There are two stores right next to each other. One is an outlet of overruns, discontinued fabrics on bolts and tables stacked with shorts. Right next door is their main store of new fabrics, even leather skins. The staff is wonderful. Haven't looked though if their old store up north is still there. I go to the one off Broadway. One has to be ready to dig for matching and enough yardage though. I've never had a problem "digging" through all and find myself hanging around way too long.

I too remember CC when it was so much fun, bought many a bolt right at the store. Loving their sales. Just remembered it has been almost 30 yrs since my first visit. Perhaps we can call them an upper end store now. It has been years since going to one after finding a number of outlets around. And now being able to order online at prices once remembered.

What I am missing is access to upholstery thread. It is few and far between, specifically for color options. Even at upholstery fabric stores. Greg's comment about few sewers may go along with availability of such.

The personal post from CC is interesting and appreciated having him take the time to share with us. I must be a very different species than the norm for their customers. Being able to pull a bolt of fabric out to see the overall look is a need for me. And it must be very difficult for any store front with internet products available, plus our economy.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 6:21AM
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Well Greg it really makes a very good impression on me when a business owner/ manager takes the time to weigh in like that. That does make a difference to me for when I am ready to purchase the fabric. You sound passionate and like DeeDee said we are passionate decorator's here at GW!

My service in the store was excellent and far beyond other fabric stores (most any store for that matter!) as it always has been over the yrs.

I love the fabric so much w/ that I am contemplating using the fabric as curtains instead of just pillows for DD's room.

And hey - if you ever need excellent furniture refinishing and/ or repair in the Main Line area of PA - DH's business regularly services that area! Just shoot me an e-mail! LOL - sorry - couldn't resist!

Will post pics of thie fabric w/ everything else later today to see what you think.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:54AM
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Did anyone try emailing Greg?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Have not shopped at the local CC in yrs, don't even know if it is still here. I got tired of the snotty and awful customer service. We have several local stores that offer excellent customer service, FREE samples, have interior designers on staff, shall I go on?? If you live in NC, it is worth stopping in. One of them does custom furniture to die for, ordered our Wesley Hall sofa thru them, sweet deal. The designer came over, helped me re-arrange the furniture in our family room. Can't beat that. SO glad they opened here in Charlotte!!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 5:41PM
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I have been a Calico Shopper for years. It's always the store I start with since it easier for me the hit their Marlton/Cherry Hill Store than go to 4th Street in Philadelpha.

We recently reupholstered our 10 year old CC Sofa with fabric purchased in CC. The quality of their furnishings is superb and so is their fabric which is why we reupholstered. Our salesperson was very helpful and really took her time with us but she did attend to another customer while DH and I were chatting and it did take her a little time to get back to us.

I did not get a sample because I took DH back there that day once I saw what I wanted which is a feat unto itself. I used to love to go there and get those little samples to bring home and look at. But I would be more happy with 2 yard sample bolts to drape across a chair. JMO

We also got a quote for the reupholster job since they were having a 20% off sale. It turned out is was $300 more than the Upholsterer we went with which we had past experience with. That's a significant price differentiation (on sale).

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 8:32AM
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emagineer -- I'm from C/S, too!! Well, just moved to Monument. I have been wondering where the good places to get fabric are... JoAnns and Hancock are dismal. Mill Outlet is a little better, but still haven't seen anything that I want.
Definitely going to take a trip to Denver Fabrics one of these days!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 9:32AM
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Hey Folks--
We had one reader in Austin TX with an issue, and my customer service team is working to resolve that issue. Since almost 80% of the fabric we sell is turned into custom labor-- we have many more success stories than we do "issues"-- Our remake percentage of custom product is under 1% (industry average is about 4-5%)-- But like every other company out there-- we are striving for TOTAL satisfaction-- I appreciate everyone's feedback and for keeping me on my toes--

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 9:56AM
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The customer service at my local store is very good. I've bought many fabrics there and the salespeople have always helped me search through fabric and made suggestions when I'm trying to match a certain color.

I purchased my slipcovered dining head and foot chairs at Calico Corners. The chairs were somewhat expensive, even with the sales price, but they are extremely well made and the slip covers are perfectly tailored. I think these chairs will last a very long time and I like that they were made in the USA. Also, the salesperson took the time to help me select a lesser expensive linen to match the linen slips on my side chairs.

When they were first delivered I thought that the hem was cut short one one of the chairs and called Calico Corners. I took one of the chairs to the store and they actually sent the seamstress to my house. She showed me that the problem was how the slipcover was adjusted and after a readjustment they were fine. (I was more than a little embarrassed not to know this but I had no experience with slipcovers, and I do think the salespeople should have recognized the easy fix, but I was very impressed that someone was sent to my home.)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 12:19PM
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Forgot to mention that my local store is located in Orange County.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 12:20PM
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I just returned my fabric sample today. Customer Service in the store is quite excellent. It always has been. The person that originally helped me was not available but another lady took detailed notes on my thoughts on the fabric and stuff to give the original sales rep feedback. I found some great inexpensive WASHABLE pillows for DD instead but I'm really, really thinking about using the Calico Corners fabric to make curtains instead.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 2:51PM
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Greg, you answered some of my questions about where your work is done and fabric is made. I'm very impressed that you work at keeping it in the USA. If more companies would do that our economy would recover much faster. I wish we had a CC near us, but the closest is more than three hours away. I'm a self employed seamstress so you can bet I'll be recommending my clients check your website for their fabrics from now on.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Thanks justgotabme-- It just seems like an old fashioned notion in my industry to rely on American labor for fabrics, draperies and furniture. So many of my competitors bring in containers from China (which is why they only offer their furniture selections in natural linen, or 20 fabric choices, or standard panel unlined draperies in 12 shades of thin silk--)...I have to believe that a business model where you can get exactly what you want in 7,000 fabrics made in the USA is still viable-- And our business is growing, thanks to so many of you out there-- I don't want to knock any other companies out there-- every company makes decisions based on their values-- and we may not be the right fit for some of you-- I am asking that you consider checking out our website, or to swing by a store to check us out if one is local... One request-- If you have a good experience, tell a friend (or your entire address book!)-- if you have a less than positive experience-- let me know-- (is there some sort of prize for the longest posts??)
Calico Corners

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 9:30AM
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No prize for the longest post Greg, though you'd think so with some of the long posts we have now and then here. LOL

I wish more companies would feel the same way about keeping their business in the USA. I try very hard to buy made in America, but it's getting harder and harder to do so. What we consumers need to do is revolt! Ofcourse in the mean time we might wind up going "nakid" and without things we'd like to have since it's impossible to find certain products that are made here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Calico Corners

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 3:21PM
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