Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I hate Mendel's.

I'm taking a class in building little shrines, and one of the techniques I learned was embossing, using those same rubber stamps that people usually just pound into inkpads. Embossing can be a subtle use of imagery, and I was excited about adding it to the little shrine I'm currently building. I wanted stamps in the form of a palm tree and a monkey, not a cheesy, smiling monkey, but an aloof, intelligent monkey, and I've visited virtually every craft and hobby store in San Francisco with no luck. I'm also hunting for the distress ink pads made by Ranger, which I read about in the lastest "Quilting Arts" magazine, which allow you to easily fake the appearance of age for your art.

Yesterday I stopped by the loathed Mendel's on Haight Street in my continuing search (I'd already been to Pearl's the same day with no luck). Mendel's used to have an amazing selection of rubber stamps by the register, and I hoped to have luck there. I didn't see a single rubber stamp, though, which surprised me, but I did score the only Ranger distress pad I've seen anywhere (but in "Mustard Yellow", alas. I would have preferred one of the other colors). When my purchases were being rung up, I asked the snooty sales clerk, "I didn't see any rubber stamps. You don't have those any more?" He arched a supercilious eyebrow at me and said, "They're right there behind you," in a tone of voice that made it clear that I was a complete idiot for asking this question while standing right in front of the rubber stamps. I persevered: "I saw stamp pads there, but I didn't see any rubber stamps. They used to be by the register."

"We're slowly phasing them out," he said, again in a rude voice. After a pause, he then added, again in a tone of voice as though he were addressing a severely retarded person, "We haven't had any rubber stamps in a very long time." So which is it, rude boy: they're right behind me and I'm stupid for not seeing them, they're being "slowly phased out", or you "haven't had any in a very long time?"

I just hate that place. Once a woman in the fabric department was so rude to me that I walked out seething, abandoning my intended three figure fabric purchase. The problem is that the store is so inviting, with fascinating merchandise. Why is it that, unlike other stores on Haight Street, that Mendel's store culture is to be relentlessly condescending and rude to the customer?

Other people used to bitch about rudeness and condescension at the Discount Fabrics close to Mendel's, but I'd bonded with the sales people there. I buy a lot of fabric, and they all love my oversized pirate bag, being admirers of good fabric. Sadly the Discount Fabric people closed the Haight Street store after opening a large, less convenient one in the SoMA (and this store is clearly aimed towards the decorating fabrics market, having a much smaller selection of the solid cottons and wacky trims I buy), leaving Haight Street with only the horribly rude Mendel's for fabrics.

The staff was even rude to me the time I returned a stolen wallet, which turned out to belong to the niece of Mendel's owners. I found that wallet abandoned in a Haight St. gutter, stripped of its cash, but still containing various pieces of ID. At home the Sober Husband and I managed to find the owner's phone number on line, and she was happy to hear she could recover anything from the stolen wallet. "Just drop it off at Mendel's, if you can. My aunt and uncle are the owners." It was a pain to drive back over there, with no parking available and the Sober Husband driving around and around the block while I walked in. I must admit I was hoping for a warm reception, maybe even an offer of a discount on something as a reward for the wallet, but instead all I got was an arched brow from the cashier and a very cold reception indeed, as though I were a leper passing over a fallen-off finger.

I shouldn't have expected any better. The only other time I returned a stolen wallet, chock full of driver's license, credit cards, library cards, etc.., just not cash, the wallet's owner accused me of being the actual thief. That was a bit much on her part, particularly as the wallet had been found by a worshiper exiting church and turned into me, the church's receptionist, and I was seated right there at my post at the venerable old Episcopalian sanctuary. How was I supposed to be picking pockets while manning this desk at a church? And why would I call someone to return their wallet to them if I'd taken it?

In any event, returning wallets seems to be a thankless job, and shopping at Mendel's is a joyless way to spend your money. I should just buy my art supplies online if I can't find them at the delightful Flax, where the art students who work there are always sweet and helpful.


Anonymous said...

That one with the giant pencil (Flax?) across from Martuni's is the worst. So rude.

Silliyak said...

I believe you can drop wallets etc in post boxes if you can find one. The incident with the art store relative certainly would invite a letter to the owners.

Anonymous said...

Are you familiar with ? They may not have what you want, but it's a start.

J9 said...

I've never had a problem at Mendel's but I am rarely there, and I like to laugh at rude people, so maybe I just took them all by surprise.

Crazy Mo said...

Honestly ... drop it off? Listen honey. I just found your wallet. I'm doing YOU a favour. Get your rich spoiled ass over here and pick it up yourself. And while you're at it ... a reward would be nice!

Anonymous said...

I've only found one wallet and I have to say that the gentleman I returned it to was extremely nice to me. Of course, it still contained over $800 in cash, so that might have helped. LOL.

Apparently he had received an insurance check for flood damage, cashed it, and promptly lost it the parking lot near Lowe's. My best guess is, should there be a next time, he'll deposit the check!

JKG said...

My lost wallet story frankly still amazes me.

I was very poor and living in Salt Lake City. I had just taken a large amount of money out to pay for very much needed car repairs and had $200 in my wallet. (So poor I didn't have credit. So poor I couldn't afford checks.)

I can't quite communicate how much money that was to me at the time.

Anyway, my then GF and I were up by the capitol for a walk in the evening (it's very pretty -- up on a hill above the city where you can see the whole valley -- and also free). Apparently, I dropped my wallet getting out of her VW Bus.

We looked everywhere. We were up there for hours.

The next day, I got a call at the 2-room apartment we were sharing with two other people from a woman who had found it and tracked me down. She had been walking her dog and found it laying on the street. Every last cent was there.

That one experience almost outweighs my miserable experience with the SLC Police when my car was stole. Almost.

Not that you asked...

the Drunken Housewife said...

Well, but I WOULD have asked. So you just saved us all the asking by coming out with the story! Glad you got the wallet back, but I'm sure you, Jim, didn't accuse the finder of stealing it.

Anonymous said...

Flax piss-tests their employees, so I don't like to give them my business. Heaven Forfend I should be sold ART SUPPLIES by a stoner!

Mendel's *is* old-skool, but WAY overpriced (and apparently they've become snooty too). you can only coast so long on how cool you used to be in the '60s (then again, is the actual owner even there from day to day any more? she must be really old by now...)

Distinctive Fabrics is a great place to order online.

the Discout Fabrics in the Mish (@17th) is probably the best bet for decent prices in town... but I really think you would do better (and have less frustration overall) by looking for what you want onliNE.

<3 you!

- M

(ps: fuck google, it wont recognize that I AM LOGGED IN, DAMMIT)

the Drunken Housewife said...

For fabrics I really want to buy them in person, because when I'm quilting, I usually need to see how my fabrics look together. I have to pile up the bolts in a big mess and gaze to see which ones work together. But my mother is visiting from out of town and wants to buy fabric and we went to what will be my new fabric store, Stonemountain & Daughters in Berkeley! The staff were very pleasant, and the selection was amazing (for me & my needs, not yours, M. Tons of 100% cotton prints, very skimpy selection of fake furs). I've been to the big Discount Fabrics in the Mission, and it's too oriented towards upholstery, I think. They don't have all those trims they used to have or as many whimsical fabrics. So feh for closing the Haight st store, Discount Fabric people!

Carol Ann said...

Back when I did rubber stamping, I bought all my stamps via catalogs (my stamping habit actually predated the internet). The stuff in the stores was always too cutesy for me.

Epiphany said...

I was going to recommend shopping online for the stamps and stamp pads as well. I'm guessing there is probably a website with more rubber stamps than you could shake Iris's penis at. ;)

After moving to Texas where people are super-friendly, I gotta say that I find most of the service staff in SF to be rude. I can empathize, though - I probably wouldn't be very nice if my minimum wage job would barely cover my rent in the apartment I shared with four others!