It's one of the worst kept secrets of our household that Cassie's getting a new sewing machine for Christmas (yes, it's what she really wants). She's getting a Brother XR-1300 from Costco which seems like a decent enough machine and should certainly be a step up from the 20 year old White machine that she's using.
Because of this, Cassie wants to take some classes and perhaps buy a sewing cabinet/table that she can use to store the machine and sew on as needed. Given that, we thought the best place to start was our local neighborhood sewing shop, Aloha Sew and Vac in Beaverton, Oregon and boy were we wrong.
We go in and the salesperson running things seemed nice enough at first until Cassie said she just got a new machine and wanted lessons. The person asked what we got and I said that we got a Brother XR-1300 from Costco. The salesperson got a frown on her face and said (I'm paraphrasing) oh, if you buy a machine from us, lessons are free, otherwise we charge $75 an hour and you are wasting your time with a box store machine as they are all plastic mechanicals when you take them apart and are just junk.
Now, keep in mind a couple of things. Cassie's moving up from a machine that is all metal internals AND IS not up to par, that she's just getting started, doesn't know how far she wants to take this as a hobby, that as I said, the Brother is a big step up from what she currently has and that the shop we were in was a Brother dealer.
I know Costco. Costco doesn't generally sell junk. They offer good quality items at excellent prices and they back them up with one of the best return policies in the business, period. We've returned outdoor Christmas lights over a year after purchasing them when they failed as well as two air mattresses. So I know something about how they handle returns.
The woman at this sewing store tried to tell me that Cassie would try out the cheaper Costco machine, get fed up with it and put it in the closet after a year or two. Not happening. It either works out and lasts longer than that or it gets returned to Costco for a refund. As far as I know and am concerned, there's zero risk to buying the Brother from Costco.
Yes, I'm sure that you generally get what you pay for and all that, but this person made it sound like there were huge differences in quality between the Brother machines that she sells and what Costco sells. As far as I can tell, what you pay for in sewing machines are features (stitches, patterns, ability to self thread, auto cut, knee presser foot control) and capabilities (how fast it can stitch, how large of a section of cloth it can embroider if it can embroider at all), and so on. You pay a lot for large multicolor LCD screens and other such features that have nothing to do with build quality.
So what's the problem here? Instead of getting to know the machine that we bought and really what we are looking for, she insults the machine that we got (and Costco to boot). If she had been listening, she would know that we are in the market for an entry level machine that can do interesting things. We aren't yet ready to spend $1000+ for something. Yet that's exactly what she started pushing us towards. I kid you not, at one point she points to a machine and tells us that the unit is normally $2800 but is on sale for $1400 and it's a fantastic machine at that price. Great, so we come in looking for a Honda Fit and this person starts selling us a Porsche 911. And don't even get me started on the fact that there cabinets START at $1400.
It didn't feel like this person was interested in listening to what our needs were or the fact that she couldn't really fulfill them. She apparently wants to lead people through the world of sewing as if they are empty vessels ready to be filled with her wisdom. And she was snooty about the whole thing to boot.
Tell me, how many successful snooty salespeople do you know?
This store is literally within walkin distance of our house and we will never set foot in there again because we don't appreciate being treated like poor peasants who don't know better, but will be shown the light.
Try listening to your customers and if you don't have anything to offer to them, give them a reason to come back when they are ready for what you do have to offer.
I'm sure that this store does well with empty vessels who don't know better and have a ton of money to spend on sewing equipment. For the rest of us, we'll have to get our stuff from Costco and Amazon and our advice from the internet.
Moral of the story? Don't insult the intelligence of prospective customers, listen to their needs and provide them with an experience that fulfills those needs in a way that satisfies the customer and not your notions of what is right or wrong as a sales person.