Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Finishing, the bane of a needlepoint shop owner's existence

Yesterday I had a customer come in to pick up 2 needlepoint cuff bracelets I had had finished for her.  I thought she was going to pass out when I told her how much the finishing cost was.  Let me explain my finishing position.  After over 30 years in this business, I try to always inform customers about the various expenses involved in their contemplated project.  You want to stitch a belt?  How do you envision its being finished?  This style costs this much, that method costs that much.  I have learned it is always better to have this conversation at the beginning of the stitching process rather than the end. I'd rather lose the initial sale then have a painful confrontation when the finished project is offered for finishing or when I present the gorgeous finished product.   I empathized with the customer today, but I also know that I tried to alert her to the finishing cost.  That doesn't  make the experience any less painful.

As a customer, always ask the finishing cost.  ALWAYS.  If it's a pillow, an eyeglass case, a pocketbook, a Christmas ornament--always ask how much the finishing will cost BEFORE you buy the canvas.  And definitely ask when you hand something over to be finished.  Needlepoint is an expensive pastime.  No one knows this better than the owner of a needlepoint shop.  He/she won't be offended if you reject the project as costing too much.  It's something we've all seen and heard before.

I pride myself on having wonderful finishers.  I utilize over 20 finishers, depending on the project.  Customers should always ask to see finished samples.  For instance, I prefer the way my finisher does framed pillows.  She uses a tiny cord on the inside edge of the frame, against the needlepoint.  Then, she uses a larger cording on the outer edge of the pillow.  It produces a marvelous "crisp-edged" product.  Of course I'm sure she would eliminate these touches if you asked, but I like them. 

You must also understand that needlepoint finishers are even more independent than needlepoint artists, and that is saying something.  Both groups are noteworthy for avoiding projects that are out-of-the-ordinary.  Sometimes my customers implore me to call and complain about slow delivery.  I usually reply "would you knock yourself out for someone who constantly complains or someone who compliments the quality of your work?"  I prefer the carrot to the stick. 

Most of the country won't be worrying about it for at least another two months, so why did my husband and I have our flu shots Monday?  Because, as my "shooter" told me, we have to have them before the snow birds come down bringing all their germs.  At first glance, that sounds rather offensive.  But, upon contemplation, you have to recognize the scientific validity.  Anyone who has caught a cold from a 5-year-old in preschool knows  they bring germs home.  So do snowbirds bring germs South with them.  I have an employee who refuses to have a flu shot.  As she says, she never gets the flu.  She also has a terrible memory, because every year about December 20 through January 15, she has some sort of cold/flu and is miserable--and we all are aware of this.  Each year I try to cajole her into having a flu shot, but she always refuses, because "she never gets the flu".  I also never get the flu, but I get my flu shot religiously.


  1. Finishing is expensive, Mary Agnes, which probably accounts for the drawerful of stitched pieces that I've never brought to fruition. And the size and shape of the project affects the cost as well. You're a wise and good woman to advise your customers before they buy that "must-have" canvas.

  2. Wish you were in my area :( When I ask I always get this look 'if you have to ask you don't belong in my shop' I stopped asking, but also stopped having my needlepoint finished into ornaments. One day....