Back in another life, my husband and I owned a whitewater paddling school and we sold kayaks and canoes. To match customers with boats that would best suit their needs, we needed to figure out what those needs were.We spent a lot of time asking personal questions, doing on-the-water demos, educating buyers.
In February when I decided to buy a spinning wheel, the flashbacks started. Only this time, I was on the other side of the transaction.
Setting Wheels In Motion
The dealer was Apple Hollow Fiber Arts in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Owner Kathi Cascio took a couple of rustic furniture classes I taught with my husband at Sievers a few years back. I didn't know then but I do know now: She could sell canoes, if she put her mind to it.
I started by telling Kathi what I thought I wanted in a wheel. In particular, I'm interested in making thread that incorporates my basswood bark. Kathi asked me to send her some of the fiber so she could sample it. I sent her basswood, some basswood-and-wool cordage I twisted, and a small looping sample made from that cordage.
Kathi addressed questions I wouldn't have known to ask. She recommended a couple of choices, in my price range and a little above it. I chose to spend a little more now, but I think this wheel will serve my needs very well for a long time.
I can almost hear spinners out there laughing at the idea of just one wheel. Moving on...
The Plan Comes To Fruition
Today I drove a couple hundred miles round-trip to pick up the wheel and, more important, get the spinning lesson Kathi offered along with it. On the drive home, I felt a list coming on. I think it applies to more than just spinning wheels and canoes.
- Get Good Help. A knowledgeable, experienced dealer can help you gather, sort, filter and interpret the information that will help you make the most informed choice.
- Spill The Beans. In some ways, sharing information with a dealer is not that different from sharing your medical history with a health care provider. Even House needs a history to make an accurate diagnosis.
- Be Patient. It might take some time for the dealer to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together in a clear picture. Give them a chance to think before you press for a recommendation.
- Be Open Minded. If the dealer suggests something other than what you expected, ask for their reasoning and give it careful consideration. Remember, you're buying their knowledge and experience.
- Be Fair. The dealer who sorts out all that information, helps you make an informed choice, helps teach you -- that dealer has earned the sale. I'll save my soapbox speech on that topic for another time.