Secrets to Finding an Awesome Sewing Store
Have you ever visited a superb sewing store? One where they have beautiful displays and excellent service. If you have then you will know what a great experience it can be. For the rest of you, I want to share the Secrets to Finding an Awesome Sewing Store.
But first, a little background. For 28 years I lived in a city that could best be summed up as a sewing desert. There would occasionally be a Bernina dealer, but they wouldn’t last very long. The local Cloth World (remember them?) used to carry Babylock sergers way back when. There was a vacuum and sewing repair shop that had machines to sell, but it wasn’t really a sewing store. No one in that town really knew how to repair sewing machines, so there was no real service.
Because of this, my sewing languished. In truth, I don’t think these small dealers knew how to create a sewing community. If they had, then the stores might have flourished and sewing would’ve been a popular pastime.
For those of you living in your own sewing desert, I want to share the Secrets to Finding an Awesome Sewing Store. I know they are out there. Some are in small communities and some are in large cities. Find a great one and your sewing experience will become a delight.
1. Professional Sales Staff
This one is a biggie for me and I will tell you why. When I was starting to look into purchasing a new sewing machine with embroidery capabilities I was fairly uninformed. (This is what led me to write All About Machine Embroidery) Anyway, my husband and I set out on a Saturday morning to visit sewing stores in the area and compare machine features.
We had mapped out the various stores in the area and knew which brands they sold. We got to the first store right after they opened. When we said we wanted to demo machines with embroidery features the store clerk (there was only one) said she didn’t know anything about the machines and we would have to come back later when her daughter came to work. Really!
Folks, I had a $2,000 budget and they lost a sale and future business. #unbelievable
An Awesome Sewing Store will have a friendly sales staff on the floor from opening until closing. They should know all of the features and benefits to all of the machines they sell. An Awesome Sewing Store will be able to answer questions you may not even know to ask.
I also believe a well-trained sales staff will be able to spot and help the uninformed. Many a husband will want to surprise his wife with a new machine. A great sales team will be more concerned with meeting the needs of their future customer rather than catching a sucker. An Awesome Sewing Store knows how to match a machine to a customer, even when the machine is going to be a surprise and the customer isn’t even there.
The same holds true when an inexperienced person who wants to start sewing walks into a store. A seasoned staff will be able to find out what the new sewist wants to sew and then fit them to the best option available. Possibly a used machine that they got from a trade-in.
Most important here, a professional sales staff will make the person with a $100 budget feel as important as someone with a $10,000 budget.
If a sewing store doesn’t have a professional sales staff, then politely leave that store until they get their act together.
2. Well-Displayed Products
I recently visited a local store that sold Juki products. The store was in an old building which isn’t a big deal, however, they had machines in boxes everywhere. Stacked up against walls. Everything was crowded together and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I actually have no idea what else they had for sale because things were so badly displayed.
An Awesome Sewing Store will be well-lit and machines should be displayed in a way that invites you to sew. It should be clean and the machines should not need dusting (I’ve actually seen dusty machines!). There should be ample space for you to demo a machine. And, there should be squares of fabric that you can use for machine demonstrations.
3. Excellent Service
An Awesome Sewing Store will also have an excellent service department. In addition, they should gladly handle any warranty work. How do they handle lemons? Do they have a return policy? If these things aren’t clearly outlined then you may want to visit another dealer.
An Awesome Sewing Store will have well-trained service people. Every year sewing machine manufacturers offer classes that dealers can attend in order to stay up to date on repairs, technology, and the latest that the manufacturer has to offer. It’s possible a service department could have won awards from the manufacturer for excellent service and repair. If your local dealer hasn’t attended these in a long time, maybe it’s time to look for another dealer.
It goes without saying that you should check out Yelp and other local sources to see what type of service experience others have had.
An Awesome Sewing Store will offer classes. Lots of classes.
There should be regular classes that introduce you to your new machine. There should be advanced classes that train you on how to use your machine to its fullest. There should be a steady supply of classes that appeal to a variety of sewing levels. Quilting classes, garment sewing classes, how to use different presser feet, machine embroidery, etc.
Lots and lots of classes that will keep you informed. Above all, an Awesome Sewing Store makes educating you about your new machine a priority.
5. Website & Tech Savvy
An Awesome Sewing Store should have a web presence with a navigable site that, at the bare minimum, lists what products they sell, upcoming classes, and hours of operation. Bonus points if they have active social media presence.
Because most sewing machines now come with lots of tech-y features like touch screens, usb drives, digitized software, and more than I can name here. An Awesome Sewing Store should have at least one employee that is fluent in the technology found on most new machines and the ability help customers who are not as tech savvy navigate all of these new features found on sewing machines.
6. Well-stocked Parts & Accessories
An Awesome Sewing Store will be well-stocked with parts for repairing machines (do you really want to wait a month to get your machine repaired because they had to order a part from Japan?). They should also carry a good supply of presser feet and any other accessories that you might need to enhance your sewing experience.
7. What about sewing stores within stores like Joann’s Hancock’s
I wouldn’t dismiss them, especially if there is a tie-in to a locally owned store. If you live in a small community, then this may be a good option as long as they are a quality dealer and offer some of the things I’ve mentioned above. Some of these smaller in-store sellers have excellent knowledge of their product and can offer great service on your machine. Get to know them a little. You may be surprised at what they can offer.
8. What if you don’t have an awesome store nearby?
Trust me, I understand. I am fortunate enough to live in a city that has an Awesome Sewing Store (Sew Much More in Austin, TX). But that wasn’t always the case. My guess ~ there is probably one within 100 -150 miles from your home.
Awesome Sewing Stores are not always found in larger cities. It’s possible that you could live in a large city and have to drive to a much smaller community to find a really great sewing store.
To find one, start by checking out sewing machine websites and look for dealers within a 100 mile radius. Then start visiting these stores until you find one that is truly awesome. Trust me, it will be worth the drive.
9. When you find an Awesome Sewing Store…
- A really Awesome Sewing Store should be about creating a sewing community. Of course, the owners of the store are in business to make a profit and customers should respect this. In order to stay in business they need to sell their machines to people who want to sew. Supporting a local business in this way insures that you will have a quality buying experience, an experienced service department in the future, and educational opportunities. Most dealers will have one or two great sales a year. Save and plan for these so you can continue to have a Awesome Sewing Store in your community.
- Because local sewing stores are in competition with each other, they may have unkind things to say about their competitors. That’s just plain tacky. If I am in a store that starts bad-mouthing other local stores, I’m gone. And you should be, too. They should be able to tell you what is great about their store, not’s wrong with someone else’s store.
- While most of you know I’m solidly in the Bernina corner, that is partly because the local Bernina dealer is so awesome. If the best dealer in your area sold Pfaff’s, Janome’s, Brother, etc. I’d go with one of those machines because an Awesome Sewing Store is what makes the difference.
Do you have an Awesome Sewing Store in your community? In the comments below, please share the store name, location, and what makes them so awesome.
Note: Don’t leave links to the store because Google will read that as spam and your comment will likely be deleted before I see the comment.