HELP! There’s a Gorilla in my Booth!


Years ago, Samsonite had an ad campaign involving a gorilla. The ad implied that airport luggage attendants were extremely rough on luggage (imagine that!) and that the only luggage that would in fact hold up to this deliberate mistreatment was Samsonite luggage. Enter the aforementioned gorilla, playing the role of the luggage attendant in the ad. Now I know you’d be showing your age if you said that you remember these commercials, so rather than make you have to make that declaration, just click on this video below, which even after all these years STILL makes me laugh out loud!

So what does the Samsonite Gorilla have to do with the Quilt Market?

Believe or not the Samsonite Gorilla, or at least one who was disguised at an attractive young lady came into my booth not long after the opening bell of the Fall Quilt Market. She didn’t say hi… she didnt even make eye contact with me… She just made a beeline straight for one of our Wrapsody samples. No big deal. Lots of customers just want the opportunity to check out our samples. They want the opportunity to open all the zippers and see how deep all the pockets are. Some even want to see if their items will fit inside and how the bag will hang with weight inside. All normal behaviors. No problem as far as I’m concerned.

But this customer was different. She opened the bag as wide as possible and immediately began to jab her index forcefully into the bottom corner of one of the inside zippered pockets. I was horrified. Instinctively I placed my hand over hers and our bag and told her, “Please stop that”. (I’m sure my voice was an octave higher than normal.)

SamsoniteGorillaShe was TOTALLY unfazed. Immediately she began explaining that she needed to see if the pockets were stitched completely to the bottom of the bag. In other words, she didn’t want to see a gap of any size between the bottom corner of the pocket and the side of the bag wall, which is a legitimate question… BUT…. before I could address her concern (and before I could stop her), she began pulling the sides of our bag open as wide as possible, thrusting her thumbs up from the bottom of the bag in what I was sure was an attempt to turn it inside out. With this she proudly made the pronouncement that she had found a “flaw in our design”. I was slack-jawed. I swear I could feel my bottom jaw come unhinged.

Now, had I been given the opportunity to speak, I would have told this young gal that the zippered pockets ARE NOT stitched to the side wall of the bag completely from top to bottom. First of all, its not possible to do, and secondly, its just not necessary. As a matter of fact I’m so sure of this that you’ll see this statement in our instructions. “Make no attempt to stitch THRU bias tape or to the bottom of wrapped Wall.”  There’s just no way  that your stored items are going to somehow migrate between the pocketed  storage areas…. unless of course you push them with your thumbs. Hmmmm……

So… what did I do next?

I told her…after my mouth snapped shut that is, to “STOP THAT“… quite forcefully as I recall. But this gal was undaunted. She started qualifying herself as a big fan, an ardent newsletter regular and a major buyer of our patterns as if this somehow entitled her to abuse our sample in this way. She also said she simply needed to know what design flaws were present so she could decide whether to conduct a class on the Wrapsody.  The last thing I remember saying to her was something to the effect, “What if EVERYONE treated our samples like that?” She left shortly thereafter, but you know what? I honestly don’t think she had a clue how upsetting and disrespectful her behavior was. Truth be known, I still get upset when I think about what she did.

And now… it’s YOUR turn!

I would REALLY love to hear your take on this? Was I just being over-protective? Do you think customers have a legitimate right to treat someone else’s property in this manner and how would YOU have handled this situation had you been in my shoes. I’m looking forward to a lively discussion about this topic, so please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the space provided below.

And don’t forget, we actually LOVE questions and comments too, so please feel free to share your! And if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it via FaceBook or Twitter!

52 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. You are not wrong! She was rude and inconsiderate. If she wants to find a flaw in the design or instructions, she can just buy the pattern (at full price) and make it herself! Shame on her. Please tell me you got her name so you can watch for future interactions with her. So sorry this happened to you. Some people’s kids …!

    • She totally got me off my guard. The Market had JUST opened. She came in the booth within the first 5 minutes and I almost couldnt believe what i was seeing. 🙁

  2. I agree, that was rude. She should have taken the time to ask questions and let you show her how it was designed. I do not think I would want to take a class that she offered. I would imagine she would be like a gorilla with students also.

    • I agree Fran.
      I told her all she had to do was ask and I tried to explain (thru clenched teeth) that there was a good reason for the way it was designed and that it honestly couldn’t be sewn the way she seemed to want it, but she wasn’t having it. 🙁

  3. Belinda Sweeney

    What an inconsiderate and disrespectful person she was! That you held yourself together is Amazing!!!!
    From me to her you had better to remove yourself from this list and does she have your permission to teach your patterns??? Pity you didnt get her name at least!

  4. I would hope that Ms. Gorilla would recognize her vile behavior (since she is such a devoted newsletter reader) and offer you an apology. But I trust you won’t be holding your breath. I’m sorry you had to deal with her too. I doubt she will ever teach a class on Wrapsody..if she does a sample, she won’t be able to “fix” the so-called flaw, or she will have to accept that you really do know what you are doing! If she really did follow the newsletter as some of us do, that design element would already be clear to her. Good thing some of us weren’t standing there..we don’t like it when our designer is bad mouthed. Okay, I feel better now. How ’bout you?

  5. Think I would have coldly asked, “Are your paying with cash or credit for that bag?”

    • That wouldve been the PERFECT reply! I love it. Why is it you cant think of a good response like that “in the moment”? 🙂

    • Barbara Ballard

      I totally agree with Lois. After she manhandled it, she needed to buy it! Charge her BIG buck!

  6. Wow!! Some people are just rude. I would think she could have politely come to you with her concerns and asked questions about the design, and listened to your answers. She apparently had something specific that she thought wasn’t right about the design, and a simple conversation could have solved the problem. Now the concern is, who is she teaching and what is she saying??

    • I really wish that was the route she had chosen instead of “manhandling” our sample. I got the impression she already had her mind made up before she ever picked the bag up if you know what I mean. At the time I was glad no one else was in the booth … but after reading a few of these comments, maybe it would have been better if the booth had been packed, no? heehee
      Thanks for the comment and the support! 🙂

  7. She was very rude and disrespectful. I feel as outraged as you must feel. I agree with Belinda – did she get your permission to teach a class on your design? And is she qualified to teach that class? – it doesn’t sound like it.

    • You know I’ve never really required folks to contact us for permission to teach. I wouldn’t know how to qualify them anyway even if we did require it. I’ll have to ask a few of my colleagues how they handle that> 🙂

  8. Wow! She really did that? I admire you for staying calm. I just might have asked her to leave. She could have just bought the pattern and made a bag to see if it was ‘up to her standard’. What a rude and mean person!
    Hugs to you from India

    • Well I’m always happy to answer design questions in the booth. I welcome that because Id rather answer a question and show a customer why we designed something a particular way, than make them have to buy it to find out for themselves. We like happy customers, not disappointed ones. The problem is, I really believe she had her mind made up that it was a design problem long before she stepped in our booth and her purpose was to prove it to me…

  9. As for her behavior, the mind boggles. Rude, ignorant, and a few words that are less socially acceptable, come to mind. If she had done that in a boutique or department store, she’d have gotten herself thrown out. Did she damage the bag? I’m with Lois, I would have made her pay, BIG TIME.

    As for her “class”, I might have asked her if everyone would be buying their own pattern, or would they be infringing on your copyright by making copies.

    So she was going to teach a class on the Wrapsody without ever making one first? One has to wonder how effective a learning experience that would be. Really, I don’t get the whole “class” thing. I can see a group of people getting together, social and supportive, to make one of your patterns. But these patterns (as you have often and clearly stated) aren’t for beginners and anyone with the requisite experience wouldn’t need someone to “teach” them how to do it. But that may just be my hostility talking.

    • Great comments Diane- you made me smile. I really just wanted her to leave. it was clear her mind was made up and i didn’t want to “lose it” and create a scene. On a crowded Market floor I didnt want to be THAT vendor that ordered someone out of her booth in the first 5 minutes of the show. haha. So i was relieved that she moved on, because she showed no remorse or shame.

  10. Too bad you didn’t have a video of it. You could have shown “this gorilla shows just how well our purses stand up to ABUSE”!!!

    • HA! Thats funny Carolyn. I wish I HAD a video of it because my hubby never saw it. It happened so fast after the opening, that he missed it! 🙂

  11. You are not wrong. I quit working retail because of people like her. She either should have asked questions politely or told you what her problem was with the pattern. My guess is she was trying to figure out what she’d done wrong and couldn’t tell you that information.

  12. I agree with what many others have said. Common courtesy would have dictated that she ask you about the construction/design concerns. You would not have to agree with her issue of “flaws”, but it could have been done in a respectful manner and not one that abuses your sample.

    • EXACTLY my point. There’s nothing wrong with having questions and concerns… she just handled it in the wrong way! 🙂

  13. WOW, I agree with everyone else. I don’t think I would have been able to keep my cool through something like that. I give you big praises for that. I agree if a few of us had been around you’d have had back up!

  14. Wow – I would’ve been speechless and also very annoyed as you have a good right to be! You certainly handled her with grace and professional dignity – and I imagine getting blindsided by these “types” who must find fault with your product is never easy to deal with. The popular phrase “Keep Calm & Carry On”! is exactly what you did and know these “gorillas” will always be there BUT they are the minority – we, your fans and biggest product customers are the majority! Amen 🙂

  15. Completely unacceptable behavior and what everybody else said!

  16. Too bad there wasn’t another customer there willing to take her on, Kat, sometimes it’s more effective to hear it from an uninterested party. She sounds like she was too dense, though, to understand how she was acting like a jerk. I hope someone goes into her house someday and behaves like she did, manhandling HER stuff. Grrr. No, you have every reason to be annoyed by people like her. Clueless and classless and probably, a horrible teacher, too.

    • Thanks Susan but as interesting as that might have been to have had other customers in the booth, it was probably better that she just go away. 🙂

  17. I use to sell crafts and I couldn’t believe people that would come, take pictures, and actually discuss with a friend, just how they would make it. Sometimes people are just thoughtless. And I learned to let their rudeness roll off or I would just stew and us up my energy….didn’t affect them at all….

    • Thanks for the comment Wendi and you’re right, i doubt there was anything i could have said to change her mind. She had her mind made up. 🙁

    • I’ve had the same problem and ask them sweetly ‘but would you really take the time to make it? Why not just buy one and take it with you.’

  18. There is never an excuse for rudeness!! If she is so concerned with the reinforcing of the bag she could reinforce hers however she wanted.

  19. I am an Engineering manager and have had my time in booths for our products. I have had my fill of people who have not used my product but ” heard x,y,z” from people they won’t identify and won’t listen to any explanation, or even answer any clarifying questions. It is frustrating to the max…… you handled yourself very well. It is always helpful to have “good guys” in the booth even if they are plants. I had a man go to every man in the booth to ask a technical question, each one would escort him to me to ask the question. He refused. I finally asked him if I had a male apendage would he ask his question. He totally blushed and quickly left the booth. If you are ever in the Portland area, I will come be your plant at your booth. You did not need to take that abuse.

    • Wow I had no idea this type of behavior was so common. Isn’t it sad that it is and I’ll remember your kind offer Dotty, although my booth really isnt that big, Folks might figure out pretty quick that you were a “plant” 🙂

  20. WOW!!!!!! My jaw is on the floor just reading that! I can’t imagine what it was like experiencing it.

    To answer your questions- No you were not being over-protective. Those bags are your babies. Not just the designs but the bags themselves. You put a lot of time into them, it seems perfectly normal and appropriate to me that you would want to protect them. I am sorry to say that if it had been me, I probably would have just stood there dumfounded. I almost go out of my way to avoid confrontation. 🙁


  21. I think she was totally out of line!!! I probably would have decked her!! LOL

  22. Kat, that woman was rude and crude. Also, does she have your permission to conduct a class with your design? I don’t think she was an admirer or follower, just a wanna be competitor. Not cool, not cool at all.—-Denise

  23. I’m afraid I would have been just as you were and astounded at her behavior! That was totally out of line and extremely rude! Unfortunately those type of people never recognize their behavior as being crass. As for her teaching a class, I agree with one of the previous posts. She didn’t understand how it was constructed but couldn’t bring herself to admit it and politely ask a question. I teach several purse classes throughout the year. While I use various patterns and designers, you and your bags are my favorite! In the quilt shop where I work, each class attendee is required to purchase their own individual pattern. Using my own copy of the pattern, I make at least one prior to class and another partially constructed to illustrate various techniques of construction. We are very careful in our shop to protect the copywrights of all patterns. I greatly appreciate your imagination and dedication to providing your awesome purses! Although I haven’t made all of your bags, I think I have ever one of your patterns. Can’t wait for the new one to be published!

  24. Tommie O'Sullivan

    Wow! First, I have to mention that I’m not only familiar with the gorilla commercial, but when baggage handlers caved in the whole side of a piece of my luggage I went into the supervisors office and showed him the damage and said “This is the one the gorilla throws around the cage! What ever could your people have done to cause this much damage?…You DO have PEOPLE working back there, don’t you?” I took the bag home, unpacked it and the airline picked it up at my home the next day and returned it a week later as good as new….no charge, of course.

    As for the idiot woman…I’d have been speechless, too, but a couple of responses come to mine. “Cash or credit?” is a great response.

    I might have asked her (since “stop that” didn’t work) if she is going to handle the samples excessively would she please wear white gloves since you have sample makers and after they’ve been on tour, you try to return the bags to the makers in the same condition as you received them.

    Idiot woman doesn’t know if that’s true or not. But if she reads your newsletter, she knows that you couldn’t possibly make all of your samples and run your business at the same time. There are only 24 hours in a day, as much as you and I would like to add more time to that finite 24 hours..

    I might have asked her what the “design flaw” was, in her opinion, and whatever she mentioned would be met with “No,that’s an intention design element which may or may not meet your needs. I’m asking what the FLAW is, and is there any special reason that you didn’t mention this months ago when I asked my readers for their comments? A pocket that does go all the way to the bottom of the bag is a design flaw if your cell phone drops to the bottom of that pocket and becomes unretrievable when you get a call.

    If that pocket is hung lower so that your phone is accessible when the phone hits the bottom of the pocket, then other things in your bag will be covering the top of the pocket, i.e. your wallet may well be taller than the cell phone pocket. That would also be a design flaw if you still can’t get to your phone when you need it.

    If she opened the bag as wide as it would go…further than it was meant to open, I might have insisted that she at least pay for a zipper to replace the one she just damaged.

    Any real sewer knows that the construction of anything, garment, bag, quilt curtains, etc. is only as good as the stitches and the thread used to sew it together. There is a big difference between 60 wt. thread and 30 wt. thread, and lined embroidered and beaded chiffon (for an evening bag) isn’t nearly as sturdy as denim. It does seem really stupid to have to point this out, but some folks just don’t seem to “get it.”

    I might also have asked her which patterns of yours she owns, and which she has actually made. If the answer to the latter is none, I might tell her that I hate to see her waste her money on something that she doesn’t use, and if she gives me her name, I’ll be happy to take her off of our mailing list so she won’t be tempted any more.

    One time I had a customer…lookie loo, really, who wanted to look at a serger. While I was showing her the serger, her child (about 12 and old enough to know better) proceeded to unthread another floor model after I had asked the child several times not to play with it. When the mother was finished and ready to leave, I turned to the child and told her now she could rethread the machine.

    She looked at me, dumbfounded. I told her that we always leave the machines threaded and ready to sew….just as she had found it when she sat down. She said she didn’t know how to thread it.

    I asked if she had been paying attention when she unthreaded it. The answer was no. Then I asked her why she was playing with it if she knew nothing about sergers or how they worked, It would have cost her mother a lot of money if she had broken it, and that as it sat there right now it was totally unusable until it was threaded correctly.

    I told her she could sit there and work on it while her mother looked at fabric, and I would be happy to help her. Of course the mother said nothing during this encounter, and finally she scolded the child, telling her she shouldn’t have been playing with such an expensive machine. (It was a 5 thread machine)

    I worked really hard to keep the “kind instructor” tone of voice with no edge or judgement in my tone or demeanor, and I certainly would have assisted her, but I was going to make sure she did it herself. I think if she had tried, she would have been proud of herself, but she wouldn’t even try.

    That child is going to grow up to be the customer you had to deal with at Quilt Market. Sorry.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Tommie. Maybe I shouldve challenged her more, but I’m afraid I just didnt want to engage this gorilla at all. I just want to holler “GO AWAY!” 🙂

  25. Wow, sorry the Quilt festival started off this way for you. For some things in life there’s just a quota. I seem to have a problem with locks, and I can guarantee that I will lose an important key about every other year. I decided not to get upset about it, just say, ok, here’s the one for this year, laugh and go on.
    Putting yourself out there, with your designs and in person, is an exposure of sorts. The occasional troll is going to wander through your booth, and I think all you can say is ok, here’s this year’s troll, and be glad when they leave. I would like to think that people like me, who are glad to meet you in person, enjoy your patterns, and have all of them (even if I haven’t gotten around to making all of them ☺️) far outnumber the trolls.
    I know there are shops in my metropolitan area that teach classes with your patterns. It’s too far away for me to get to reliably, but the classes are intriguing for the social aspect, even if I don’t need the technical assistance. I think the only thing you can expect is that everyone in the class purchase their own pattern, which is what I’ve seen other designers do.
    As for the troll, what a sorry sort of human being she is that she needs to elevate herself by tromping all over you, a tactic, I’m sure, that is designed to distract herself from the reality that while she might be able to assemble your patterns, she doesn’t have the skill or the imagination to come up with an original pattern herself.
    Whatever your troll quota, your fans far outnumber them.

    • It’s true and thank God for it that our fans FAR outweigh the trolls. (great term by the way and very fitting)
      Thanks so much for the sweet words and thanks for writing to me this morning!

  26. Not only was she rude and disrespectful, but she actually said she was going to teach a CLASS on making this purse?? If you are a fan of someone and their products – you don’t go up to them and try to tear it apart. Good grief! Who taught that girl her manners? Don’t you just wish you could go back and redo that whole scene and let her know what you think of her actions. Hopefully you will never see her again. That kind of “fan” you can do without!

    • You’re right Karen. I’ve thought of many things I couldve said in hindsight, but you know what they say about hindsight! 🙂

  27. You’re correct, she was very rude and disrespectful of your item. Had it been me, I would have taken the item away from her, straightened out, and placed it back its proper place in the display. Kindly told her, I truly appreciate what all of my followers have to say about my items. But at the moment I still own this item, and wish to show it to others that come to see what I have on display. If you would like to buy it, I would have no qualms with you attempting to tear it apart. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to honor a return on the item once you purposely destroyed it.

  28. You said that you had the impression she had an agenda when she walked in your booth. To go into someone’s booth 5 minutes after the show opened and manhandle (gorilla-handle?) a sample that way definitely shows an agenda.

    Unless yours was the booth closest to the venue’s entry door, she must have made a beeline to your booth. It sounds like she wanted to discombobulate you right as the show was starting so that she could lessen your success at this show. Who does that? A frustrated wanna-be designer who is jealous. She sounds like the kind of person who would tear someone else down to try to feel better about herself. If she’s teaching classes on items designed by others, and not classes on her own designs, that says she’s not successful as a designer in her own right. Perhaps she did the very same thing to every bag designer at that show. Have you considered that possibility?

    Another thought is that she felt slighted by you at some time in the past. Insecure people are the first to take offense at anything, even things that would never affect anyone else. Tearing you down could make her feel she’d gotten her revenge.

    I’m glad you were able to keep your cool, even if it was only because you were so shocked by her behavior and so glad she left. She sounds like a terribly unhappy person and is deserving of our pity.