Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A new sewing machine and Walmart

Today in class after spending some time practicing seam allowances we learned about topstitching. I used a Juki machine today. I need a lot more experience on industrial machines, but I see myself getting better every week. I wish class met more than once per week so I could use the machines more often. I hope that once I am at UW-Stout I’ll have regular access to industrial machines.

The real excitement happened over the course of the past week. I bought a new sewing machine. I wanted a Singer 99k, but any cheap machine that works well would do. I searched the pawn shops and thrift stores, but found nothing I liked. I could have bought a 99k on eBay, but I do not want to purchase a used machine that I have not tried first. I will eventually find a 99k, but I needed a new machine now so I bought a Brother LX-3125 at Walmart. I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it works. It is a simple machine with no bells and whistles, but simple is what I wanted.

My new sewing machine is a source of excitement and joy, but last week I learned some bad news that has left me feeling sad. Prior to the start of last week’s class some of my classmates and I were discussing where we purchased our muslin. I told them I shopped at Walmart because they have the best prices for fabrics. A few others in the class said they wanted to shop at Walmart, but their local Walmarts no longer have a full service fabrics department. I had never heard of such a thing as a Walmart without fabrics. In the past two years my Walmart shopping experience has been confined to two stores, both of which offer a full service fabrics department. After hearing from my classmates I assumed that it was just a few of the smaller stores that now do not have fabrics. But, as I was to soon learn, that is not the case. As I was searching for a new sewing machine I found myself in Bloomington where the Walmart was recently upgraded to a Walmart Supercenter. I had purchased fabrics at this store prior to its metamorphosis, and I thought that even if some smaller Walmarts no longer have fabrics a Supercenter surely will. To my great surprise and dismay I learned that not only were there no fabrics, the store did not have a crafts department at all.

I went to my local Walmart where I purchased the sewing machine along with some interfacing, and I had a long chat with the employees in the crafts department about the future of Walmart. They told me that the folks in Bentonville, AK decided to get rid of full service fabrics from all Walmart stores. Some stores protested this decision and were granted a temporary reprieve. The final fate of Walmart's full service fabrics departments has not yet been determined, but it is possible that by the end of the year they will all be gone.

Walmart is my favorite fabrics store. They do not have as broad a selection as can be found in stores devoted to sewing and/or crafts, but Walmart’s prices cannot be beat. Their prices are often as much as 25% less than those at JoAnn Fabrics. Furthermore, Walmarts are often easier to find than other craft and fabrics stores. On my one visit to Menomonie, WI, I was pleased to see that the town has a Walmart Supercenter. I told myself that after I start at UW-Stout this store will be my primary source of fabric. Now I do not know if I will be able to shop there or if I will have to go elsewhere. JoAnn Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics do not have stores in Menomonie. If the Menomonie Walmart does not have fabrics I may have to drive more than 20 miles to Eau Claire to shop.

Your help is needed to keep full service fabrics in Walmart. Tell the manager of your local Walmart how important their fabrics department is. I found this petition asking Walmart to keep their fabrics department. Please sign it and encourage others to do so to. Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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