I'm shopping for a longarm! Keep in mind, I am an in-vitro longarmer! Took a class once, fell in love with it, and immediately put on on my bucket list! I talked to Cindy Roth last year (www.longarm.university) as I started my research. I can't afford a brand new machine with all the bells, whistles, and computer, but I don't want to buy someone else's problems either. So I talked to her about the longarm business (as a way to help with the payments) and to get some insight and advice when I am ready to buy. She told me two things that really helped me work through the research.
1. Buy a "Big-Girl" machine. Rather than an off-brand, sewing machine brand, or low-end brand, she advised getting a big-name brand. Her list of suggested brands: A-1, APQS, Gammill, Handi Quilter, Nolting, Prodigy, Tin Lizzie, Innova, and a few others.
2. She asked if I usually buy a new car or a used car. I told her "new car". So, she said that I would probably be happier with a new longarm. Hmmm. There goes my budget.
As I continued my research, I began to narrow my selection to APQS and Innova (sans computer), based on price, features, reviews, test driving, etc. The proximity of dealers is an issue where I live. There is an HQ dealer, but I didn't hear great reviews about that store. There is a big Innova dealer 4.5 hours from here, and I began a researchy conversation with her, but didn't get the feeling she cared much unless I had my checkbook and pen ready. The conversation with the APQS dealer last year, 2.5 hours away, was wonderful. Great lady, not pushy at all. When the move into the "new" house had came to a close and the sewing studio became operational, I renewed my research.
The Innova dealer ignored my overtures, but the APQS dealer was immediately a big help. Plus she is moving to a location only 1.5 hours from here! Anyway, she reminded me that APQS recently sent out their list of used and demo machines available. So we looked at the list again. The one that caught my eye was the 2013 (less than a year old) Lenni demo with a lifetime warranty! Great price, too. There is an expert sewing/longarm service guy in our area that most people use, so I called him, since he as seen everything. From his perspective, were he to buy a longarm for himself, his priority list would be: 1. Gammill, 2. APQS, 3. Innova. Hmmm. He put the APQS ahead of Innova because of how easy the APQS is to service. That's important to me. So I called the APQS dealer and told her to put a hold on that Lenni.
Well, someone else had it on hold and was about to take delivery. Rats. We agreed that the best machine for me would come along. She called me back in about 30 minutes to tell me that she had contacted the company on another matter, and they told her that the person with the hold on the Lenni had to let it go because she couldn't get funding. It was available! So I plopped down my (refundable) deposit while I line up my own funding. I also had the opportunity to go to an APQS Roadshow in Roanoke VA last week which confirmed that the Lenni is the best model for my needs. So it's just a matter of time, now. Will keep you posted.