Sunday, November 29, 2009

For Those Who Wait

This is a story for anyone who has a hard time waiting for what they want.

I have long been a fan of Gütermann threads.When you sew as much as I do, you go through hundreds of spools of thread every year. Quilters are especially fussy, and when we find a brand that works for us we become very loyal to it. I've tried just about every other brand, and found that everything Gütermann makes, from silk to glace-hand quilting threads, are the best on the market.

Gütermann's threads can also be quite expensive; often costing three times more than the standard stuff, so I only buy what I need for a particular project. I save any leftover thread for repair work and only keep about a dozen spools with common colors in my sewing basket, so I never have much on hand.

I was at my fabric store about six months ago when I saw an end cap with six big numbered racks of Gütermann thread, and thought they were just shipments the clerks had parked there until they had time to put them out on the bigger racks. Closer examination revealed the cabinets were actually for sale -- 100 spools in all the best colors for $160.00.

I almost bought it right there, but my conscience kicked in, and I forced myself to walk away. $160.00 for thread was not in my sewing budget, even though I knew I had the money and I'd use every spool. I have a sewing budget for the same reason I have a writing budget -- if I didn't, my spending would quickly spiral out of control. I could buy cheaper thread and still get the job done, but something told me to wait and see if I could get the Gütermann on sale.

The next time I went to the store, someone had bought one cabinet, leaving five on the end cap. It made me feel a little flutter of panic; there are a lot of home sewers in my area and they aren't dummies. On that trip I had a 20% off one regularly-priced item coupon, which meant I could buy one of the cabinets for $128.00. Much better, but still too pricey for my budget. I stood there trying to make bargains with myself, but the budget would not be budged, and I had to walk away again.

Because they were expensive, the cabinets sold slowly. I know because I checked them every time I went to see if they went on sale. They never did. By the first week of November there were only three left, and when I asked the store clerk said they wouldn't be stocking them after the last three went. That almost convinced me to buy them with my next 20% off coupon, but it was time for my sewing machine to be serviced, and most of the sewing budget had to go toward that. Again I walked away, completely depressed and absolutely sure the next time I came back the last of the cabinets would be gone, and I'd have missed my chance to have 100 spools of that lovely thread.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I never go shopping on Black Friday, but if there are some good Saturday sales I will venture out on the holiday weekend. My fabric store circular came, and on page two listed the Saturday doorbusters. Among them was my much-coveted Gütermann thread cabinet for 50% off if it was purchased before noon.

50% = $80.00.

I hadn't been to the fabric store in over a month, so I didn't rush. I just knew with my luck that if there were still any cabinets left, they'd be snapped up the minute the doors opened. So I had a leisurely morning and went out around 9:30 am to pick up some fabric, notions and gifts I needed.

I love shopping in the fabric store on a sale day. I found some great batiks, a couple of terrific gifts for my guild friends, and three neat new sewing concept books, all at 40%-50% off. Once I'd finished shopping for the stuff I want I gave into the impulse and went back to confirm that all the thread cabinets were gone, and they were . . . except one. There was actually one left.

I had to touch it to be sure I wasn't hallucinating. I was so sure it couldn't be the right cabinet that I looked in my sales circular to make sure its product number matched the sale listing. That was when I noticed that until noon my 20% off coupon was good for both regular- and sale-priced items. I hadn't seen the fine print earlier.

I put the very last cabinet of Gütermann thread in my basket, marched right up to the front cashier, and paid for it. It cost me $64.00, almost $100.00 off the regular price. While I was paying the cashier, I wondered how I'd feel right then if I'd bought it six months ago for full price. Stupid and angry for jumping at something I wanted badly but knew cost too much. Who wouldn't? But I knew I'd also waited almost too long to get the thread, too -- it was only pure dumb luck that someone else hadn't snatched it up before I found it.

I know it's just thread, and by this time next year most of it will be used up in various sewing projects. But for the next twelve months, I will grin every time I go to my sewing table and see that lovely cabinet hanging on my wall. It's still the best there is, but it's even more precious to me now because I waited long enough to get it on my terms, plus I happened to be in the right place at the exact right time to land this deal -- a really wonderful deal at that.

What has this to do with writing professionally? Think about it.


  1. What a great story! I probably would have bought the thread at $160-- I don't feel bad when I pay full-price for something high-quality.

    I get mad when I try to be cheap and it ends up being a poor quality item-- case in point-- I've gone through three cheap vacuum cleaners this year. I am ready to scream.

    My husband finally told me that we are going to pony up the money and get a Dyson or an Oreck. No more cheap vacuums.

  2. No, it's NOT just thread, it's Gutermann thread. It's the only thread I actually have in my sewing cabinet, except for some cheap stuff I use when buttons fall off.

    It's without a doubt the best thread for quilting, and the colors..!?! Yum, yum, yummy.

    Great you scored the whole cabinet, even if it took months to accomplish...and you were really lucky.

  3. Defining what makes a good deal is the kicker; it's hard to wait for a good deal when you haven't determined what that is, or which offer is wrong for your "budget". But without some framework for decision making, there's nothing to judge an opportunity against.

    Enjoy your beautiful thread!

  4. Yes, I am struggling with that analogy on my current WIP. It's not so much of a struggle, though, it's just knowing that if I don't rush my novel may not be ready to submit to a certain contest I would like to enter. But if I do rush, the novel won't be worth submitting.

    Good things come to those who wait. And work. And save their coupons.

  5. LaurieF10:04 AM

    I'm newer to your blog so I wasn't aware you were crafty. But seeing the name Gutermann made me feel nostalgic. I used to sew a lot (wedding gowns to curtains) and for three years worked at a fabric store. It was in the eighties
    (1985?) when we got the new thread with the funny name. It was love a first sight, all the brilliant colors and what quality.
    It was like finding out the difference between regular scissors and Henckels which I've had for 25 years. Anyway, thanks for the memories.

  6. I've done some quilting and you're right, Gütermann's threads are the best. And I'm quite jealous that you were able to snatch up such a great cabinet of colors. And I think, the moral of the story is...

    Good things are awarded to those who are patient. And are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

  7. Jealous! And good for you for waiting! It took me a long time to learn how to wait. Sometimes, it pays off, sometimes, it doesn't. But it's a 50/50 thing so I continue now to wait rather than scooping things up the minute I see them.

    And terlee is right. It's not just any thread, it's Guterman! I too use it for quilting and serious sewing and keep the cheap stuff for buttons and things.

    So pat yourself on the back for getting an awesome deal. Lucky you :)

  8. Güterman is never just thread. I'm a quilter too, and while I can't afford it all the time, I always get it for special projects.

    And yes, I see the connection between that and professional writing. Sometimes it's so hard to wait, but it's never a good idea to jump into something out of impatience. We put a lot of time into our stories, don't blow it at the end by going with the wrong publisher.

  9. I used to do a lot of bargain hunting. Unfortunately, bargain hunting seems to involve a lot of shopping (at least for me). I find I'm doing better financially and happier when I focus on getting what I really want and need, while saving and budgeting to buy it (even if it means paying full price). I am definitely an overbuyer, so that is what works best for me.

  10. Teresa has the same thread cabinet on her wall. I don't think she scored as good a deal, but I know she didn't pay full price for it either.

    As for the link between your shopping habits and professional writing, I'm concluding that some problems aren't solved immediately, but you have to keep going back and working at it before you strike gold. At least, that's what works for me.

  11. Güterman thread is awesome, I agree. Now I would have done it differently-I would have calculated how much that thread would be singly, then caluclated my savings right there which would have been a lot. But I wouldn't have bought it-I don't sew that much anymore (but that thing is magpie pickings-look at all those colors!). I WANT to sew, but my stuff has been packed away and I can't get to it just yet so I couldn't justify it. If it were 60? I wouldn't even BLINK it'd be in the basket so fast.

    As far as sticking to your guns and patience? I try. I really do.

  12. My problem is that I am too cautious. I tend to let things go instead of jumping on a good sale. On the other hand, I can only think of one instance that I regret not getting something. A friend of ours offered us a piano several years ago, which I turned down. Of course at that time we were living in an apartment, had little money and no interest in playing it. I got a good deal on the secondhand spinnet I have now so I don't regret turning down the earlier one too much.

    How is this like pro writing? I don't know. Maybe don't be in such a rush to go to with the first agent or publisher who offers you a contract? Keep writing and submitting--your time will come? It's hard to say, because the flip side of the coin is that you can lose something by being too picky. I guess it means deciding for yourself what your standards are an sticking to them.

  13. Congrats on snagging the Gütermann cabinet. True, Gütermann thread is pricey, even in Germany, but the quality is well worth it, particularly for quilting projects which are created to last.

    As for the parallels to writing, I'd suspect that the moral of the story is that the first offer from an agent or publisher or the first chance to publish a piece is not necessarily the best. Sometimes it pays to be patient rather than end up with a scam agent or vanity press.