Friday, October 30, 2009

Used & Surplus Sewing Machines On Hand!

Those of you who have dealt with us for a long time know that we don't usually keep sewing machines on hand. But now we do!

We've made room for four machines, now available for purchase and pick up in our west Nashville office/warehouse at 233 Oceola Avenue (37209 - behind the Charlotte Pike Kroger).

All machines are complete with table, stand, 110 volt motors, thread stand, and bobbin winders if applicable.

Sorry - these machines are available for on-site purchase only and all sales are final. So if you're interested in one, give us a call first to let us know you're coming, bring your thread and fabric to try them out if you want, and do the cash and carry thing.

Here's what we have available as of today:
Juki DLN-415-4 (used) single needle, needle feed flatbed high speed sewing machine. Excellent for use on denim, upholstery, and other tough to feed fabrics. REDUCED!: $550.00 complete.

Willcox & Gibbs 516-4-51 (used) five thread true safety stitch especially suited for heavy materials. Submerged setup. REDUCED!: $650.00 complete.

Consew 205RB-1 (new) single needle large bobbin walking foot machine with reverse. Ideal for upholstery and leather work. REDUCED!: $1,075.00 complete.

Consew 2043R-1 (new) artisan zig-zag machine with reverse. Use as a tailoring machine. Also can be used for free-hand embroidery. Similar to Singer 20U. REDUCED!: $625.00 complete.

We also have some excellent used Bevco ergonomic upholstered sewing chairs with hydraulic lift available to go with the machines for $90.00 each. Come on down!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yes, We Have Paper

We have stocked up for the winter quarter. Place your order now so that when January comes you won't be without.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I’m all for globalization. I myself have a really nice globe. I think every living room should have one. Globes give perspective. They remind us that we are each a tiny little dot in God’s great big world.

One thing I like about my globe is that it is nearly as old as I am. It still says Peking for Beijing, Rhodesia for Zimbabwe, and shows Germany as two countries. Life is full of changes. Some good, some not.

One kind of globalization I’m not so sold on is the kind in which Congress continually passes laws about safety, wages, and environmental impact while opening our market to countries who don’t do the same. All that safety and so forth becomes a moot point when we’ve priced ourselves right out of good productive jobs.

Back when I started in this industry nearly 30 years ago, every small town around here had one or more garment factories. Many folks who didn’t aim to be doctors or lawyers - or doing jobs that involved saying “Do you want fries with that?” - came out of high school and went to work at the factory. Many ran a sewing machine their whole lives and were happy with that, but others moved up the ranks of designing, patternmaking, mechanic work, or supervision and management. And some, of course, set out to found their own businesses.

Now, not so much. The upshot is that a tremendous amount of technical knowledge and talent has been lost in our culture. Thus it’s awfully hard to find good help in a sewing operation now.

But I have a suggestion for you: Look to your local colleges. It seems that lately a lot of them have established fashion design departments. I know because they’re buying the tools of the trade from us. And the young people in these programs might just be exactly what you need. At the same time, you can pass along some of the tricks of the trade you’ve learned along the way. And help this part of the globe to have a good bit more sewing in it again.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dang Me

That early Roger Miller hit contains one of my all-time favorite song lyrics:
“I lack fourteen dollars havin’ 27¢.”

That came to mind when I heard that our federal government is projecting $9 trillion in deficits over the next ten years.

Those of us in the real world can’t run our businesses like that. We’ve got to operate in the black.

That’s why we’ve had to make painful cutbacks in staff, work longer hours, and generally make do with less.

In times like these private sector owners and employees alike take less pay home, have fewer benefits, and a lot less job security than, say, DMV workers.

But the private sector has one thing the government will never have: blue sky. We have the potential of success, of maybe even becoming the next FedEx. At the very least, we control our own destiny.

And frankly, though a recent CNN feature said that garment manufacturing in the U.S. has shrunk 60% since 2000, I think that sewing is still a great industry for an entrepreneur.

Case in point: FSB Magazine profiles several small businesses each month from startups to established firms. You’d be surprised how many of their articles feature sewing businesses (many of whom are SouthStar customers!).

The fashion industry, you see - which is not just apparel, but in some way practically everything sewn - is and always will be a dynamic market allowing lots of room for innovation, ambition, and hard work.

In a recession like this, it’s easy to feel you’re getting nowhere when you’re working too many hours for too little gain. But I am here to tell you, you are not alone. I speak with dozens of you a day. There are thousands of you out there. You are, really, the backbone of the economy.

And while our government may be $9 trillion shy of having 27¢, you’ve got a going business and the potential for a lot more once the recession abates. As long as the dang government will just stay out of the way...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How will you ship my order?

We prefer FedEx Ground (which we refer to on your invoice as "FXG") for small package delivery because it is non-union (UPS and the Teamsters have stung us more than once with strikes) and because FedEx Ground drivers are independent businesses (they are not employees of FedEx; each FedEx Ground driver contracts with FedEx and is in effect a sole proprietor). Also, it doesn't hurt that FedEx is a good Tennessee-based company like us.

However, if you prefer UPS, we are happy to ship on your account and sometimes choose to use UPS when it just works out better. Mind you, we like our UPS drivers; it's the union and company with whom we've had problems. Ironically we send most of our overnight shipments by UPS because FedEx has a quirk in their system which requires a separate driver to pick up air shipments. The fewer times we have to answer the door the better.

Whenever possible, we send smaller orders by USPS Priority Mail - basically whatever will fit in a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope that has a value less than $100. The flat rate envelope is a real bargain at $4.95 to any U.S. address and it is trackable at

IMPORTANT: Please take the time to make sure we have your correct PHYSICAL ADDRESS as well as MAILING ADDRESS. With the way that delivery companies are highly systematized now, the fact that your local driver knows where you are is not good enough. We are required to have exact addresses for everything including street number and street type (avenue, boulevard, etc.) or we get charged extra - which of course ends up getting passed on to you, the customer.

We normally send truck shipments via Roadway (now YRT) unless you tell us otherwise.

Monday, July 6, 2009

When will my order ship?

Soon. Real soon. In most cases.

Chances are overwhelming that your order will ship within 24 hours of entry, whether out of our main office in Nashville or one of our supplier warehouses. Almost all orders ship within 48 hours.

However, there are exceptions. The biggest exception is when sewing or cutting machine parts on an order total less than $50.00. Although we keep the most commonly ordered parts in stock in Nashville, there are about a half a million possible other parts! We have to meet minimums with supplier warehouses so we group our small parts orders and bring them into Nashville twice a week. That might tack 3-5 days to your order, sometimes more if it's a specialty part.

Then of course there are those times that we or our supplier simply get caught short on stock. We'll try to warn you about that but don't always know it at the time you place your order.

The best rule of thumb is: if your delivery time is critical, don't assume. Ask!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Small-Order Surcharges

The young men and women who spend their summers selling books for the Southwestern Company are advised to take a cold shower first thing in the morning. This isn't to wake up quicker nor to ward off the summer's heat but to start the day off doing something they really, really don't want to do. That way the inevitable rejection they're going to face throughout the rest of the day doesn't seem so daunting.

So I'm christening our blog with perhaps our least popular subject, small order surcharges. Here's the policy in a nutshell:

Orders which total less than $25.00 (before shipping and/or taxes) incur a $10.00 surcharge. Orders from $25.00 to $50.00 incur a $5.oo surcharge. Orders over $50.00 incur no surcharge, just shipping and taxes as applicable.

So in essence, we have a $50.00 minimum but you can order less if you're willing to pay more.

We started this policy around 2001 when the recession was sending more and more small orders our way and fewer big ones. Some days it would get absolutely ridiculous. We were chasing our tails. And operating more like a charity than a business, as we were most definitely not making money on $50.00 orders. Only a very large volume business like Amazon can do that. Many companies much larger than we are have tried it and failed. And believe me, folks, supplying to the sewing industry these days is anything but a large volume business.

Now the good news is that in this recession, we've softened the policy somewhat. Now if you are a regular customer (which we simply define by whether you've placed more than one order over $50.00 in the last twelve months), we waive the fee.

In any case, it really works to your advantage to order more at a time. The cheapest we can get anything anywhere these days is about $5.00 and I'd say our average package costs closer to $10.00 to ship. If you place a $20.00 order and it costs $5.00 to ship it, 25% of your cost is in shipping alone. Add our surcharge in and it's 75%! But if you go ahead and order $50.00, it's only 10%.

For you sewing folks, I like to use the analogy of someone coming to you with a custom job. If they just want one item you're going to charge them a higher price for it than if they order ten of the same thing. In fact, probably almost the same price for ten as it costs them for one! You know the reasons: most of the cost to you is in your setup and labor. Same here.

Thanks for reading up on this fascinating subject. I look forward to covering more scintillating topics in the future.