Archive for the ‘Stores’ Category

Smith-Owen – Grand Rapids, Michigan

April 9th, 2010 No comments

Smith-Owen were the people who repaired my Pfaff 1229, but even if you don’t have an ailing machine, Smith-Owen is well worth a long visit. The staff is incredibly nice and very helpful — one person even went through a drawer of miscellaneous parts looking for any hidden feet that might fit my 1229.


The fabric part of the store caters to quilters — without quilters would we even have any fabric stores anymore? — and is abundant with walls of beautiful cottons and inspirational projects.


The notions walls are complete, as is the book selection — in addition to those up front, there’s a huge rack in the back to peruse, too. If you’re in the area, there’s a large, airy classroom, and a ton of options for classes.


Lovers of Michigan’s lighthouses will appreciate the nicely done Michigan Lighthouse Panels (suitable for a cottage quilt, pillows, totes or just about anything else). Check out the Smith-Owen website; it’s much more extensive than most, with lots of swatches to view. I wouldn’t hesitate to mail order from them; it’s clear that they are really, really serious about very good customer service.


Smith-Owen sells new Pfaff, Viking/Husqvarna and Singer as well as “pre-owned” machines. The store is easy to find: It’s on Plainfield Avenue just past the Plainfield limits sign (though the address is Grand Rapids). Plan to go during the week or on Saturday; like many stores in the area, Smith-Owen is closed on Sunday.

Disclaimer:  This is a personal blog, and I received no compensation for this review, which represents my opinion and my experience alone.  My visit to Smith-Owen was in 2008.  (Yeah, I know — another post that got lost!)

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Good-Bye, JoAnn

October 29th, 2009 2 comments

Dear JoAnn –

Well, you’ve finally done it.  After years of trying to run me out of your “Fabrics and Crafts” store — years while you added more and more junky craft stuff, cheaper and cheaper crummy fabric, and tons and tons of stuff that has nothing whatever to do with either fabrics  or crafts — you’ve succeeded.

Sure, I’ll run in for thread, and a zipper if I’m desperate.  But for a long time after I’d given up on most of what you stock, when I had a bit of spare time, I’d spend it at the pattern table.  I’d take a half an hour or so to look at patterns and plan projects.  It was relaxing and refreshing.  The best kind of “down” time.

No more.  My nearest JoAnn Fabric and Craft store has installed some kind of 24/7 video that looms over the pattern section, screeching out — well, I don’t know what, because if I’m at that pattern table, thinking and planning are what I want to do.  What I don’t want is to be assaulted by noise.

Even the video has to compete with the too-loud, ever-present, radio and with the store announcements that attempt to get attention over everything else.

Yeah, JoAnn, the only thing I’ve done in the past year in your store is have a little quiet adult time.  Sure, the end result was that I’d buy things that I hadn’t planned to buy.  That should look like a big plus to you.  Buying more stuff than you meant to is what people do when they get excited and interested in what they’re doing.  You take more money out of my pocket when I like being in your store; works every time!

But I’m not getting excited about anything at JoAnn anymore.  Because, guess what?  I can look at patterns  at home.  Where it’s quite and pleasant, and no one’s trying to sell me stuff I don’t want in an unending, looping, loud interminable advertisement that I can’t escape.

So, JoAnn, this is it.  Good-bye, baby.  It’s been a long, slow process, but you finally chased me completely out of your store.  Hope that was your plan all along.  If that’s the case, it’s win-win for both of us.


PS —  Does ANYONE watch those videos?  I’ve never yet seen anyone stop to  look at them. But I have seen a lot of people  shooting dirty looks at them.

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Pfaff 1229 Repair Update

October 13th, 2009 No comments

This post is actually an old one.  A recent comment from a reader reminded me that I had left a bunch of stuff dangling.  (Life does interfere with blogging now and then.)  There are quite a few posts in my drafts folder that never saw the light of day.  I’ll be going back and posting them as I get the chance.  In the meantime, here’s the follow up on my poor, broken Pfaff.   This one’s from July, 2008:

Mr. Noile and I have been traveling, theoretically on vacation. While Mr. Noile has been spending his time doing academic research, I’ve been having various sewing adventures, most, if not all, of which will be revealed in time. The best one, though, came about as the result of an accidental phone call when I was looking for a replacement check spring for my Pfaff 1229.  My machine and I ended up at Smith-Owen in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

so-ext-400The technician I spoke to wasn’t satisfied just to give me what I said I wanted. Instead, he asked me to tell him exactly what was going on with my machine.  I mentioned that our travels would take us to northern Michigan, and he suggested that I drop the machine off — saying that he was pretty sure that he could have it fixed by the time we left the state.

So, on the way to Traverse City from Ann Arbor, we detoured to Grand Rapids and left my well-loved machine with Brian. He called us in northern Michigan days — that’s right DAYS! — later to report that all was well, and that I could pick it up.

I’d left samples of my stitching disasters with him, along with a piece of the most troublesome fabric. He returned a swatch with perfect stitching on it, along with another test piece that demonstrated that all was well with my baby once again. And my self-diagnosis? Not quite right — somehow the throw of the zig zag wasn’t quite traveling the way it should, and that was the source of the problem.

No more — my wonderful 1229 is purring along as if it were brand new. The bill? Just under $80 for a new life and a tune-up. I was so thrilled and relieved that I bought every single accessory foot Smith-Owen sold for my machine. (More on that later.) And two copies of a wonderful, inspiration reference/tutorial (ditto).

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