I'm stewing over a rabbit trail I ran down last night while cruising Pinterest.
There I was, checking out the quilty goodness, when I see what looks like my old Janome 6600 but painted with tacky gold highlights and labelled a Singer! What?! Upon further inspection, I find it is a clone of the Janome 6500, called the S18. Then I found another clone, this time it's a Singer labelled version of the straight-stitch only Janome 1600, called the S16.
From all indications, these are machines made by Janome for Singer and they're priced much lower than their Janome counterparts, which are wonderful machines. Both have 9 inches of space to the right of the needle and are great for free motion quilting. Assuming similar quality to the Janome's they are based on.
Why am I stewing? Remember I work at a Janome dealership. I know my dealer didn't know about these machines and I bet any Janome dealer would be pretty dismayed. Why not drop the dealer price on the Janome models if they want to sell to a lower price point? My dealer can't come anywhere near the current sale price on the S16, though he's pretty close on the S18. Ah, the collective bargaining power of the big box stores....
What's the value of an independent dealer? Someone who can walk you through the features and needs of your new machine? Walmart isn't quite known for its customer service. These are heavy machines--- who pays to ship them to the factory for service? Can you find a local dealer to work on these machines? My dealer will work on any machine as long as he can get needed parts, but I hear that a dealer like that's not all that common anymore. Will someone at Walmart or Amazon tell you whether you can use a ruler foot on either machine? (You can. But don't go looking for a Singer version---you'll still have to buy Janome accessories for these clones.)
It's always been pretty easy for me to turn away from the machines sold at the big box stores before. I know they're not well made. Newbies get overwhelmed without some guidance, I see them in the shop each time I work, Experienced sewers can sometimes coax the best out of these bargain machines for a time. But what if they're made like my beloved Janomes?
I want quilters to be able to enjoy a quality machine with more space for free motion quilting larger projects without having to spend too much, so therein lies my dilemma.
What are your thoughts, dear readers?
I'm linking to the machines on Amazon below. Maybe they'll suit your needs, or maybe you'll just want to check them out better. These are affiliate links so I get a tiny commission if you buy just about anything on Amazon after clicking through. Doesn't cost you anything and gives me a little pocket change.
Also Craftsy is having a wonderful sale site wide for Mother's Day!