A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
Good and Bad Times in Kansas City
A lesson in civility.
by "Benny" (May 23, 2005)
(Note: The following is from a buyer for one of the
industry's major chains.)
I have to tell you about my experience this past weekend at Quilt
Market. It has to deal with independents versus chains, and
since this seems to be a hot button right now, I thought it would be
Two totally different things happened during my trip to Kansas
1. I am standing in line to purchase my show badge. There are
two women retailers standing behind me who are discussing the
embroidery thread/design on one of their shirts. Me being the thread
buyer for a major chain and being nosey, I asked what thread they
preferred to use. I always like getting a customer's perspective.
They asked why I was so interested and I told them that I was the
thread buyer for X chain. They got all huffy and started telling me
who each vendor was and how they were represented on the design.
They gave me two vendors, one of whom I do business with and one who
When I told them that one of them would not do business with me,
they were almost giddy. To quote, "Good. That is why we buy
from them because they don't sell to the chain stores and we can
have something exclusive."
And they proceeded to get nasty with me. To say the least I was
so taken back I couldn't even speak. For me, that is a big deal!
What the retailer doesn't know is that I can't buy it because of an
agreement with one of the companies involved. They were so nasty to
me I couldn't believe it.
2. Then in the afternoon, we went to a wonderful independent
store that you have featured in your column recently. (Editor's
Note: That's Urban Art & Craft, www.urbanartsandcrafts.com.)
The store was beautiful and well staffed. We ended up meeting the
owner and introduced ourselves as chain buyers. She and I used the
time that I was in her store to collaborate on ideas. There was such
a nice feeling about it – no animosity whatsoever. She obviously
knows that there is room for both and that we could both learn a lot
from each other.
Isn't it a shame that more people can't learn that??!!
(Note: To read previous columns by "Benny" –
buyers writing anonymously – click on the titles in the right-hand
column. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)