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Fashion Stores

The Workroom

Posted by Joseph / Posted on August 27, 2008

If there was any doubt we're living in the DIY decade, the Workroom may have just erased it. The Workroom is Toronto's first Sew by the Hour Space. For only $7 (less if you have a membership), you can claim a sewing machine and thread and do your thing. Or, take a class like learning how to sew a men's tie.

Learn more about the store and watch a video interview with owner Karyn Valino from a previous post shortly after the store opened.



Helena / July 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm
The owner, Karen is really nice, but when she's not there the employees tend to be weirdly smug and condescending, kind of like the sewing store version of Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons.

Last time I was there the woman at the cash actually TALKED ME OUT OF BUYING ANYTHING by loudly lecturing me from across the store about how I couldn't use a rotary cutter unless I bought a self healing mat too. Her tone wasn't at all kind or helpful, it was a snide "I'm the expert and you're an idiot," type thing, and she made sure she broadcast it across the whole store rather than wait till I got back to the counter.

It was really weird and off-putting, and the person I was with noticed it too. After we left he said, "That lady was really kind of nasty, no?"
Koko replying to a comment from Helena / March 14, 2013 at 04:48 pm
TOTALLLLLLLLY agree with Helena's comments!!!
Had a very similar experience and have repeatedly experienced the staff there to be just as she described.
Nice to know it isn't just me! LOL!
Seuss / March 15, 2013 at 09:11 am
I would have to disagree about the staff. I've been taking classes and dropping into the store for the past couple of years and I've always found the staff there very welcoming and knowledgeable. Karen is wonderful and Roz and Jurisse are always enthusiastic and willing to take the time with customers. If ever I was talked out of buying something, it was usually for a good reason and based on whatever project I was working on.
Dave / March 15, 2013 at 10:06 am
I have to say that I love the employees there. They are passionate, interesting and intelligent and bring lots of creativity to the scene. If you want a cookie cutter sewing joint, go visit Jo-Ann Fabrics or use a Vogue pattern. If you have any artful passion in your blood, you will visit the ever-so-enlightening-infectious Ros and Jerisse. Case closed.

Kim Mickey / March 16, 2013 at 10:40 am
You do realize, Dave, that your comment smacks of the same type of snobbery that Helena and Koko were describing? It's SEWING, it's not rocket science. There's no reason anyone should be treated badly by any store clerk anywhere.
Wendy / March 19, 2013 at 06:30 pm
Yay, so glad The Workroom was mentioned on this list! I have been a huge fan for a long time. They have beautiful fabrics, great classes at a range of levels, and really friendly staff - including happy tail wags of the resident shop dog!
Anne / June 23, 2013 at 07:44 pm
Completely agree with Helena! I consistently have these experiences at the Workroom. The shop carries beautiful fabric, but I always dread going in there because I'd rather not deal with how rude and condescending some of the employees can be (*ahem* the taller one with the brown hair).

Haven't taken a class there, so can't speak to that — but, I'd recommend the shop for the stock. Avoid talking to the staff, lest you want your mood soured by really terrible attitudes.
Sarah / August 26, 2013 at 10:39 am
I like many of the fabric lines carried at the Work Room, but I also had dismal service experiences all 3 times I've been to the store. The first time I visited the store, I was asking about beginner level quilt patterns. I felt like the the staff member was angry with me for not understanding some quilting terms she was throwing at me. She was terse and visibly frustrated with my questions.

It's gotten to the point that I actually order patterns from their online store (when I can't source them from other vendors), rather than make the trek to the store in-person. And I live right on the Dufferin bus route, so it is very easy for me to get to the store by transit.

I am disappointed by the service experience (same people working each time on Sunday afternoons) and it has prevented me from signing up from any of the many workshops offered at the store.
JT / August 31, 2013 at 11:03 am
I must admit that I have to agree with the majority of the comments above. I am, by all means, a beginner when it comes to fabric and fabric-based projects. Each time I walk into The Workroom, I am not only completely ignored by the staffed but made to feel entirely uncomfortable (read: the store is empty. There are two employees talking. I walk in and they stop talking. Do not greet or address me, let along acknowledge my existence.). Talk about a mortifying experience. For some reason, I decided to go back and a similar thing happened again. For people who are supposedly passionate about what they do, they are certainly unwilling to share this love with others.
millana / October 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm
If this is the general opinion of this store and it's employees, I would highly suggest mgt. find new people. I am a sewer and think this concept is a great one, however, after reading these reviews you can count me out.
It is too bad, for the owner's sake. I have met many people, like the ones they are describing, in the retail industry as of late. What ever happened to customer comes first!!! Unfortunately, you will lose a lot of business over this.
Irene / October 16, 2013 at 10:15 am
I'm looking for a white, 46.5", duvet zipper. Do you have them?
Lisa / March 1, 2014 at 01:43 pm
Wow. I just came across this page and I'm surprised by all the negative comments. I love the workroom. It's up there in my top two fabric stores! I live in a small city and I find when I come to Toronto the staff in stores is often indifferent to me...and I don't find the people at the work room that different. I'm a middle aged woman, used to being ignored. When I'm in Toronto I try to make the trek to the workroom because they carry many fabrics I can't find any where else. I've taken classes with Johanna Masko in Guelph and I can tell you she is a wonderful instructor and it would be worth braving the store just to take one of her classes. Then maybe you would feel more confident in the shop. But I suppose it would be a good idea for there to be more attention paid to customer service;
Helen / July 21, 2014 at 09:10 am
Karyn is lovely, always welcoming and remembers my name. Some of the staff are also very attentive however there have been times as recently as this past winter when my reception was the same as described by JT. Why employees think it's okay to ignore customers in order to eat lunch and chat with a friend is beyond me. I can't think Karyn endorses it. I continue to support Karyn because I want a Bernina dealer and fabric store close to my home however I always hesitate before going in wondering if she will be there and my visit a pleasant experience.
zhazha / December 27, 2014 at 02:16 pm
I have to agree with the ladies go in to a store to enjoy the fabrics and look around and get ideas and inspiration ..when your treated like a silly billy goat who doesn't know zip its a stick in my heart cause there goes the good feeling i wanted to keep in the first place to be able to get inspired!!i mean fine you are a wiz at the sewing thing and we are not..but hey this is a hobby for most of us..this is what we do to relax after seeing and tending to 50 sick kids at the the hospital or fighting to keep some one out of jail in court..we are all talented in different ways and need help in other time you start being nasty towards a customer think about the poor owner that has invested her life savings in this shop just to have it destroyed by someone not being able to control their mouth..or rolling their eyes remember customer service can make or break a business
Marie / April 16, 2015 at 11:11 am
the Workroom is a lovely place, and I'm sure the employees have productive and kind relationships that they have built over time with some customers. I have to agree that, as a new customer wandering into the store for the first time, I felt that I was met with an indifference and cold approach by the staff there at that moment. They may be artistic and intelligent, I have no doubt. But the business may benefit from having some individuals with more warmth and care for their prospective clients. As with any craft/artistry, I'd rather an open and inclusive approach than the poor attitude. Anyway, they do indeed carry lovely fabrics and notions- I'll be going back for that reason anyway :) Happy sewing everyone!

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