I was going to post this with my last post, the story of the horrible trip to JoAnn's, but the story ended up really long, so I decided to make a second post for this. Also, the story post was very rage-filled, and I needed to calm down to make sense out of this post.
I'd like to start off by saying that these might not apply to every fabric store, or even every JoAnn's, but here's how things usually go at the JoAnn's I regularly visit.
Before going to the cutting counter
1. Figure out what fabrics you need. It's best to do this before you leave home, especially if you already have the pattern that you're going to be using. If you can't do this at home, do it before going to the cutting counter when no one else is waiting on you to finish.
2. Try to figure out how much fabric you need. Sometimes you can also do this at home. The first thing to know is that fabric as usually sold in yards, not inches, the smallest amount being one eighth of a yard. Now, I'm a very visual person, so I can't always decide exactly how much I need until I get to the cutting counter. To cut down on time, try to at least get a range of how much you might need. Since I often need small pieces, I sometimes have difficulty deciding between 1/8 of a yard and 1/4 of a yard, or between 1/4 of a yard and 1/2 of a yard.
Most patterns will tell you how much fabric you'll need on the back of the packaging. If you can't make heads or tails of the chart (it's confusing), then bring it to JoAnn's and ask an employee on the floor to help you out. Try to avoid asking employees at the cutting counter, unless no one else can help you, which does sometimes happen.
Just narrow down the amount you'll need so that you won't be thinking "somewhere between one and eighth yards" because that will get you nowhere. If you're in somewhat of a hurry and only know how much you want of some fabrics, go to the cutting counter and get those fabrics cut first. While the employee is cutting, slow down and decide how much you need of the other fabric. Try to keep it quick though, especially if there's a line. In my experience, if you think you might need more, you probably do.
3. Take a number. Even if there is a line already formed, take a number from the dispenser on the cutting counter. This is the only thing that will guarantee your place in line. Occasionally, if there are quite literally absolutely no other customers around, the employee at the cutting counter will tell you to come directly up. Otherwise, take a number.
1. Don't complain. This is probably more of a pet-peeve of mine than etiquette, but it really grinds my gears when customers in line complain that the employees are taking too long with other people. Yes, sometimes the employees mess up or take too long or are busy chatting, but from what I've seen, most of the time, it's not their fault. Sometimes customers are indecisive or chatty, or really, really picky about how they want their fabric cut. From what I've seen, the employees want the line to keep moving just as much as you do, so please don't complain about them, they're only doing their job.
At the cutting counter
1. Be quick, but clear. Be as fast as you can, but make sure the employee understands how much of each fabric you want. Hand the fabric directly to them, touch the fabric, or specify by color/type and tell them how many yards you want. Pointing at the fabric that you want cut can slow things down because the employee has to the determine which fabric you're pointing to. I find that putting all of the fabric on the counter to the side of the cutting area, and then picking one up and handing it to the employee while telling them how much I want is the quickest, most effective way to communicate what I want. It's not that I think the employee isn't smart or can't figure out what I mean, I'm sure they're very smart and could most likely understand what I meant if I pointed, I just don't want to waste time with miscommunications.
2. Don't leave! This is what ticks me off the most. Don't leave the cutting counter while your fabric is being cut! Once the employee is done cutting one fabric, they need to know how much you need of the next fabric! Or then need to tell you the price or give you your receipt, or whatever! Just stay there until you get your receipt.
3. Be friendly, but move along. It's okay to chat with the employee while your fabric is being cut. They'll often ask what you're making, especially if you're a frequent customer. But once your fabric is cut, please politely wrap up your conversation and leave so that the next person can get their fabric cut.
I feel like my thoughts may not have come out very clear in this post, I ended up writing this very late at night, so if something seems off, doesn't make sense, or comes off really rude, please tell me. I realize some things may come off a little rude, and that may just be the way I feel about those particular things, but I always try to be careful with my phrasing, and this was a sort of rage-fueled post, so if it seems really rude, please let me know so that I can at least change phrasing.
Again I'd like to mention that this is the way things generally go at the JoAnn's that I frequent. It may not be the same at all fabric stores or even all JoAnn's stores. Also, if you're new to fabric shopping and have done some of the things that I recommend against, don't sweat it too much, just don't do it again. If I thought everyone in the world knew what they were doing, I wouldn't have made this post, which is one of the reasons that I don't want it to sound really rude.