On Friday I talked about all the fun I had on the Yarn Crawl this year. Now I’m turning the attention to The Bad. I had a lot of issues this year with the Crawl and the organizers, and I’m going to put them all out here.
The TL:DR verison: Social media campaign was nonexistent, Stephanie from Unwind called all the crawlers “Crazy” and said organizing the stores was like “herding cats,” and as a result I won’t shop there anymore. Ever.
The unabridged version:
I noticed in all my travels that attendance was WAY down from last year. It was obvious to everyone. Part of that is probably the economy, but I think a lot of it is how the organizers of the event promoted the event. Or should I say didn’t promote the event.
Maybe it’s because my business is working in social media, but their social media campaign this year was horrible. The Twitter presence leading up to the Crawl was practically nonexistent. The last Tweet from the account was March 7. An entire MONTH before the Crawl started. Before that, February 28. They had a total of 21 tweets between the last tweet of last year and the end of this year’s crawl. By comparison over the previous two crawls, there were 843 total tweets.
And the Ravelry forum? Even worse! People were posting questions and not getting any answers. The Crawlers themselves had to contact various people, pool their information, and take their best guess at what they thought the answers were. On the Facebook page they were (slowly) putting up “Shop Spotlights” and promised the Ravelry users they’d post them there, too. In one day they posted 7 Shop Spotlights. Out of 29 (28?) stores. And then that was it. Nothing else. And not just that they didn’t post any other Shop Spotlights, they DIDN’T POST ANYTHING ELSE on Ravelry. Those 7 Spotlights were posted on March 25, and nothing else was heard from the official LA Yarn Crawl account on Ravelry after that.
At 1:00 p.m. on the last day of the Crawl, when all the stores were going to be open for at least 5 more hours, the official YCLA Facebook page posted this:
See you next year crawlers, it was a blast! Please answer the following – Yarn Crawl LA 2014 was… (link to actual post)
Needless to say, a few responses were along the lines of “Still going on!” What the heck? If I was a crawler considering going out and hitting one or two stores at the last minute, I wouldn’t have gone after seeing that post. I would have assumed it was over.
But here’s the coup de grace. The part that if I was a store I’d be furious. As an attendee of all three years of the crawl, it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve read the article and I’m STILL frothing at the mouth angry. There was an LA Weekly article which the YCLA Facebook page happily promoted. “Huge! LA Weekly article on Yarn Crawl L.A. County!”
This article could not have possibly been more condescending and dismissive of the Crawlers. As much as I hate driving people to their site, here’s the full article.
First off, the two people “interviewed” in this article are Stephanie from Unwind and Libby who I believe is in charge of the PR for the Crawl.
Steinhaus says. “It’s a lot of work. We have to recruit the sponsors, the wholesale vendors who provide the gift baskets, the shops. Coordinating 30 entrepreneurs who are used to running their shop their own way? It’s like herding cats, trying to corral them into a joint effort.”
I may be wrong, but it’s possible telling the world trying to get the stores to do something is like “herding cats” is maybe not the best way to get them to do something.
What is crazy? Crazy is the 30 people last year who drove to all 30 stores. “That is not enjoyable,” Butler-Gluck insists. “Because I know I was racing to get 15 stores done. You’d see a car pull up, five women would run in, buy one ball of yarn, then fly out.”
Crazy is crawlers traveling in packs. They assemble in teams of five or eight or 10, with matching T-shirts. Perhaps they met at previous crawls, or on Ravelry.com (“like Facebook for knitters,” Butler-Gluck says). They skip work, or call in sick.
Crazy is renting minivans, carpooling routes that have been planned via Excel spreadsheet, and taking turns behind the driver’s seat so that no one loses a full day of knitting time.
I’m one of those 30 people. The first two years of the Crawl I went to all the stores. I EASILY went to all the stores. The first year was a combination of my knitter friends and my mom. In fact, my mom and I went out one day when it was just the two of us. The Crawl was in April and she passed away that July, and I treasure those two days she crawled with me, but especially the one day we went solo. We had a lot of fun and created memories which I think about all the time. It didn’t feel “crazy.”
But regardless of my mother’s condition, that first year, and the year after, was amazing fun! Trying to plan the best routes, who is going in which cars, what did everyone buy? What stores did everyone see? Any great events? There’s a huge social aspect to events like this, and to belittle it all and call us (your CUSTOMERS) “crazy” is insulting at the very least. I know it was a lot of driving to hit all the stores, but I planned well and each day I was done by 4-5. The first day last year I hit something like 8-9 stores and was done by 2:00 p.m. So to say it’s “crazy” and “not enjoyable” is just a crock. It may not have been enjoyable FOR HER, but don’t put that generalization on the rest of us. I know I had fun, and I’m betting the other 28 people did, too.
As a direct result of this article, I didn’t go to all the stores again. I could have. I work from home and could have arranged my schedule without any difficulty to hit all the stores for the third year in a row. Except I didn’t. If the organizer of the event thinks it’s “crazy” for me to shop at all the stores, then why should I bother? Apparently Stephanie and Libby I’m clearly not right in the head to want to do this, so I just kept myself and my money mostly at home and in my wallet this year. I went to 10 stores this year out of 29 (28?). I bought yarn at four of them.
Of course, even if I DID go to all the other stores for the Crawl, I still would have been one short, because I’ll never set foot in Unwind again.
Retailer motivations are less of a mystery. “Last year, sales-wise,” Steinhaus starts to say, then grabs a calculator from the register. “I just wanted to check my numbers,” she explains. “The four days of the crawl last year? We did 95 percent more business than any other regular four days. That’s not an exaggeration. Everyone I can get to be friendly and smile, I put to work.”
All in all, Steinhaus sold 291 balls of yarn associated with the special scarf.
“Which is,” she adds, “kind of crazy.”
If she thinks her customers are “crazy” and going to all the stores is “not enjoyable,” according to her good friend Libby, why should I waste my time and energy on participating? If this what she thinks of her customers, customers who brought in 95% MORE business, and who bought 219 skeins of yarn to make this scarf by Stephen West, then I see no reason to continue to support her or her store.
I’m sure other stores will happily accept my “crazy” money.
Lynda the Guppy
aka An Infuriated and Insulted Fish With Sticks
aka The Fish With Sticks