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Big Box Stores vs. Local Distributors

Sewing Machines and Supplies

By Ron Bergquist

I want to take the time to explain to many of you the difference in what you get when you make a decision to purchase a sewing machine and supplies from a Big Box Store vs. your Local Distributor.

Let’s start with Warranty

Big Box Store (Amazon, Walmart, Sam’s etc.) – You get a manufacturer’s warranty only. This means if you have an issue or problem with your sewing machine during the warranty period, you will box it up and send it back to a repair center somewhere. Not locally to a distributor. You will pay the freight to the repair center.  They will pay the freight back to you in most case (unless they find it was not a warranted failure).  It may be gone a week, it may be gone a month. It will be on their time frame.

Your local distributor for the brand you purchased is not responsible for the warranty repair if you did not purchase the sewing machine from them.  Why?  Because manufacturers do not reimburse local distributors for labor or parts.  The manufacturer might send the local distributor the parts under warranty, but in most cases NO!  Why you ask.  Even though the sewing machine purchased at a big box store may look like the same on the dealer’s show room they are NOT.  The model number is almost always different and the internal parts (many of them) are plastic. That is how the price gets reduced down and failures rise.

Distributor – You get full warranty and service, both manufacturer and distributor warranty.  The dealer may even offer an extended warranty you can purchase. There is no additional cost for shipping to you and turn-around time is much faster and the results are better.  You get training if needed. You get upgrade options from the distributor if you purchased from them.  You get to participate in their rewards program at no extra cost to you.  Repairs are made with the specified correct parts for your machine, not the plastic parts like in the big box sewing machines. Most important you are investing money back into the community you live in and not supporting a board of directors somewhere. Almost all sewing machine distributors are independent.  They purchase directly from their suppliers and have a hefty down-stroke to get those distributorships. They cannot buy hundreds of machines at a time, but honor the manufacturer suggested pricing by the contract they signed. 

Fly By Night Internet Distributors – You are back to manufacturer’s warranty only. Local distributors have no obligation to honor the warranty and don’t provide training.  We will, but we may charge for it. These Internet distributors sell machines and combination packages at reduced prices and throw in needles, rulers etc. as they have gotten them in over stock and do a mix and match. Many of these machines are repacks, (meaning something was wrong with them and they were returned and reboxed, used and sold for new). They can sell cheaper because they will never see or take any responsibility for your machine once they have been paid and the machine has been shipped to you. They will perform no warranty, no parts, and no service. They give the industry a bad name when you have a problem. They do not abide by the manufacturers pricing.

Let’s Move to Service – As a local distributor we are required to take training courses and stay up with the current models.  This is not free to the distributor.  Big Box Stores, they take NO training and are required to do nothing.  When is the last time a Walmart or Amazon employee helped you setup your machine or answered your question on the operation and capabilities of it? Your local distributor is just like you, they live, work and socialize in the same community you live in. We try to provide quick turnaround on service.  We try to live with four days.  Most time it is quicker, unless it requires a part that is not in stock. We are face to face with you and must live up to our reputation and promise. We have a commitment to you and ourselves.

Here is a perfect example of what we are saying that local distributors face daily.  I had a very nice lady come in the other day.  She asked me all about one of our products and asked me to demo it for her and give her a little education.  I was happy to do that as it is what we are here for.  When we finished she told me she knew all about this product and wanted to see it in action, then proceeded to tell me that she just bought one from out of state (internet sales) and was having it shipped here.  She said she would be calling me to set it up for her as the seller told her we were the dealer here and we had to do that.  So, I asked why she didn’t come to us, it was exactly the same setup and price.  I asked her what she paid for it.  She told me the same price as ours but the shipping was a little more. She said a friend of hers had exactly the same setup in another state and she called them to purchase it. I told her I would be glad to set it up for her and give her the training needed, but there will be a charge.  I advised her that the price she paid that other distributor included the setup and training. They got a lot of money for doing nothing.  She was not a very happy person.  We will help her the best we can, but you have to think about what you are doing and know what is right and fair. Sometimes the best deals are really not the most cost effective.  Just like Amazon prime Free Freight.  It is not free; you paid $100.00 for the prime portion. Nothing is ever free.

Hoping this makes sense to all and helps in your future decisions when purchasing any products.  Sewing machine distributors are not like Ford, GMC etc. where you purchase a car and can take it to any dealer anywhere for warranty work.  Warranty is handled by the dealer you purchased it from. So when you ask yourself or friends – Why is it that quilt shops and sewing centers just don’t seem to make it here? You just read the answer. It is possible you may pay a little more, but you will get that back tenfold with service, training, help, turnaround and knowledge from your local distributor. 

Ron Bergquist is a certified sewing machine technician for all makes and models, but specifically for Janome, Handi Quilter and EverSewn.  Not only that, he is co-owner with Barb, his wife, of A Block Away Quilt Shop.  After keeping Barb’s machine in running order so she can continually enjoy creating quilts for family and friends, he decided to become a certified sewing machine technician and today has serviced machines in Texas, Virginia and Florida.


Contact Us:

Phone: (956) 638-1961
Location: A Block Away Quilt Shop
                 2706 N. 10th Street
                 McAllen, TX 78501
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9AM-4PM, Sun: Closed

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