…tellaire, Epic, Memory Craft–Honestly, any big hoop will do.
It has been 334 days since I visited a brick-and-mortar sewing shop, and not for the reason you probably think.
Eleven months ago, I asked for embroidery machine suggestions in my Instagram stories. I wanted to upgrade from my older sewing/embroidery combo machine which has a maximum hoop size of 4” x 6” to the largest available hoop size that [preferably] costs no more than a late 90s Jetta.
I was a teenager in the 90s so that reference should make sense to at least a few of you. I hope.
Along with the machine responses, I was recommended to a local, new-to-me shop that didn’t seem to have any negative reviews. I have a long history of bad shop experiences, which is why most of my machines had to be purchased online. Think of that scene in “Pretty Woman”. I have literally had to flash my “new job money” at people to get them to stop following me because they think I’m going to steal something and to start following me to tell me about the newest multi-needle options.
If you know anything about the sewing machine industry you know that purchasing online can be extremely limiting cost/size/feature-wise. While I am always hesitant to deal with the art of the sale, I acknowledged that going to a shop was the best bet for this particular investment. Additionally, it was far past time for me to try and build a relationship with a shop that could service my other machines.
I contacted The Shop to inquire about what they might have in stock, providing them with my must-haves, my nice-to-haves, and a quick statement about my sewing experience–essentially what you put into those “Find My Machine” surveys. The Shop responded with some in-stock options and provided links for me to review. Then, we set an appointment time (because quarantine). The only thing I’ll say about the appointment itself is that I was never asked for my budget. I was there being chatted up for quite a while, and I don’t know if that’s a Mom & Pop sales thing, but it threw a flag for me as a person who assumes that people want to sell me things. If you know me, you know that just making the decision to step into a retail space put me on edge, but the atmosphere was friendly and cozy enough to ease my initial discomfort. What kept me going through the next leg of this experience was the owner’s very vocal and very visible stance on building an inclusive, local sewing community. I will absolutely throw money at people who show me the work.
I was offered a great machine for a fraction of the original price that was in some stage of being refurbished. My first machine was a refurbished model that worked extremely well for a long time, so even though I walked in intent on walking out with some brand new hotness, I agreed that what they offered would likely fit my needs perfectly. I was told that they’d have an ETA on completion sometime in the following week.
Twenty-four days later, I reached out to The Shop to get that ETA. The response was quick–parts were on backorder. I was still waiting on holiday gifts at that point, so I accepted that answer and continued my wait.
One hundred and twelve days later, I reached out to The Shop again for an update, this time offering to come in and look at what else was available in the store. Eight days later, I received a response that the parts were in and that the refurb was moving forward. They thanked me for my patience.
Around the world in eighty days later, I did “a final check in” (my exact words in the email). Again, I offered to come back to The Shop for another look, and I restated the type of machine that I was looking for. Seven days of the week passed, at which point an email that I thought was spam arrived in my inbox. Luckily, I checked the sender’s address and realized that it was a new thread started by the service technician at The Shop, a person I’d never met. The email was quippy, included literary references, and shed light on what had been going on with the refurbish project. From the sound of it–my opinion not The Shop’s–not only should I walk away from this deal, but The Shop should charge more than what I was quoted for what sounds like a complete overhaul. I’ll admit that I know exactly enough to clean and oil my machines that need it, but the issues with the machine they offered don’t soften me to waiting for it’s completion. But, I am nothing if not passively and aggressively polite. I wished the technician well and gave my thanks for the update.
That was one hundred and three days ago.
Today, I’m looking at end-of-the-year machine deals promising luggage sets and fancy financing that I don’t actually need. I’m walking around my house trying to decide which corner could fit a multi-needle machine and stand. I’m trying to talk myself out of ordering from an online retailer promising free shipping for my “$$$$” purchase, which seems like just a step down from the closest big box sewing store’s machine section staffed by well-meaning quilters who think I’m looking for the cutting counter. I’m stalking The Shop on social media for any indication that they have something I can walk out with today if I head over on my lunch break. I’m trying to work up the courage to ask Hench Hubby to go to The Shop for me even though I know his aversion to arts-crafts-and-sewing stores–through no fault of mine. I’m trying not to think back on every email I sent to and read from The Shop, pinpointing each time I coulda/shoulda/woulda just gone back in and bought a new machine like anyone else in a similar buying situation.
I am in the throes of digitizing for three sizable costuming projects that would be infinitely easier on a large machine. I’ve been sitting on the upgrade for a decade, so I know exactly how much better my sewing life will be.
Don’t be like me, Team. Stick to the plan. Set your boundaries. Don’t settle for a deal that’s too good to be true. Walk out with a machine.