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Buy a Demo Bernina ???

orion | Posted in General Discussion on

I just brought my trusty Bernina 1090 into my local dealer for a tune up and ended up putting money down on a newer model. The problem? I thought it was just a discontinued model (165E) but also found out it’s been a demo as well. So now I’m wondering, should I buy a demo?

I thought it was new but this puts it in the used category for me and raises red flags. Has anyone here ever bought a demo? If so, how did that work out? My 1090 is a great machine and I’m still tuning it up but the 165E has the embroidery function as well as being a regular sewing machine. That’s what appealed to me. The fact that it’s not new, out of the box, is bothering me… Help!


  1. Crazy K | | #1

    I know how you feel.........guess I would feel the same.  On the other hand, I am familiar with one dealership in my locale that changes their demos out after just a few months on the floor.  Probably so they don't get past the 'gently used' stage.  Maybe you could find out how long its been a demo......a few months or a few years!  If it's recent, then ask for a full warranty.........????  If the savings are good enough, it may be a good deal for you.

    Just putting in my nickel's worth!  Another thought........perhaps you could call around to other dealers and ask how long they leave machines on the floor as demos.........see how your dealer stacks up...........


    1. orion | | #2

      Thanks. That's good advice.
      I personally know the owner and she's very reputable. She's been in business for 30 years and is a major Bernina dealer. I guess I was thinking the machine's been on the floor for years but that actually doesn't make sense. They'd want the newest ones out there :-)So, I'll find out how long it was a demo. The owner did say that the machine's been gone over, cleaned up and put back in the box. I'll make sure it has a good warranty as well. It's really the only way I'll ever be able to afford such a great machine!

  2. Cityoflostsouls | | #3

    I bought a demo van (one year) and seven yars later it is wonderful.  Just like new when I bought it and a vast reduction in price.  So much for cars.  I have the Bernina 165 which I bought new about 5 years ago.  It's wonderful and perfect.  I would ask how long it was used as a demo and more importantly how much discount are you receiving.  I paid $3000. for mine new.  The other question you need to ask is if any attachments, instruction books and any other necessary additions are still available and when was this model discontinued?  How complete is it, is the dongle with it and what additions have been added?  If you cannot get this information then pay the price for a used sewing machine or forget it.   There are a lot of things the $3000. did not include but I bought it all so don't have to worry about it.  Are the hoops with it?  Any designs?  The 165 has a stitching size of 4 x 4 and 5 x 7.  The larger hoops do not fit.  Is the dealer completely servicing this machine??!!!  Im sure there is no warranty. Get a complete list from the dealer of everything that is included.  If there is no dongle (and number) then I'm sure there was a lot of extra things you can do that are not included.  It has the older bobbin set-up which some people (especially quilters) like.  As for stitch quality and machine quality I doubt if you can beat it.  Are all the instruction books with it (also instruction books for the upgrades).  I have been able to download free designs from the internet to my machine.  Can you do this?  Can't imagine using them all but I have 3000 designs in my computer that I have downloaded free,  If you have to buy design dvd"s they are very expensive.  Take a copy of this with you when you go to see the dealer.  I have software thru 4 and 5 is out but I probably wouldn't buy it if I could.  I was told they no longer make the little personal design cards.  Is one included?  I can store on mine for instant use.  I will not pay the price for the design collections available but singles are available over the internet if you have a conputer hooked up and a way to send them to your machine.  Your dealer will probably hate me.  Mine is not for sale but it's complete.

    1. orion | | #5

      Thanks for your very thorough and very helpful advice. I'm getting the machine and the embroidery attachment for $1399, which is a couple thousand $$$ off it's original price. I'll find out more tomorrow about what I'm getting for accessories etc.I have an 830 that I bought nearly 30 years ago and it's a classic. Then I have the 1090 which sews like a dream. I think this third one will be the charm. It's reassuring to hear the praises of the 165E. I'm really looking forward to the touch screen and the embroidery capabilties. I plan on keeping the 830 for sentimental purposes (plus it has the most perfect stitch!) and give the 1090 to my 21 year old daughter. Thanks everyone for giving me the perspective I needed to hear :-)

      1. Cityoflostsouls | | #6

        When I first moved down to the farm 30 odd years ago I had the 830 (new).  Bad luck and a disastrous cattle market I was forced to sell it.  A few years ago my dealer had a perfect one, overhauled and with a new foot control.  It was complete and I had to have it  I paid 400 dollars for it new and $600. to replace it and get over my loss!  It runs like new.  Frankly I didn't care what I had to pay to replace it.  My dealer learned to repair Berninas by taking every piece apart and putting it back together.  He had it hidden in the back room-waiting for someone with a sentimental yearning I guess-Me!!  Sometimes my practical side just has to go far,far away.  I sold the original one for the $400. I had paid for it!  I'm glad you're getting the machine but still ask your dealer for all the answers to the questions I gave you.  Let me know how you like your new machine.

        1. orion | | #7

          My 830 is my all time favorite Bernina. I mean the new ones are great but I still love the way that machine purrs as it sews. The stitch is perfection. Plus, I made all kinds of wonderful clothes for my two grown daughters when they were little. Glad you got to get another one.I just brought my 165E home and Gretchen answered all my questions. She doesn't keep the demos out for more than 6 months and then has their tech go over them from stem to stern. It has the same warranty as if it were new and she threw in a sweet deal on the embroidery thread. She also signed me up for machine guide class for the machine embroidery. So, now all I have to do is plug it in and play. The embroidery's going to come in handy as I start making Christmas presents this year :-) Thanks for all the help!

          1. Lazybug | | #16

            I can vouch for your decision to purchase a Bernina 165E. That's the machine I've been using for a number of years and have had no problems at all, except for replacing the tiny hook on the threader. I love this machine; it produces a fine straight stitch and the embroidery unit is perfect -- a never fail.
            The way you describe your dealer, a demo machine would be a good way to go. Congratulations.

          2. orion | | #17

            I never intended to buy a new machine but it sold itself. I've already sewn on it and I can vouch for the beautiful stitch. Wow! I've given my 1090 to my daughter and she's thrilled, so it was definitely meant to be!

  3. jsinger | | #4

    I bought a demo Viking SE in October.  It has a full warranty, etc.  Keep in mind that a demo has to be kept in really tip-top shape.  If it doesn't work perfectly, the dealer won't sell any machines!  I purchased my previous machine as a demo also and used it happily for fourteen years.  It's still going strong. 

  4. Lilith1951 | | #8

    I can't answer any questions from experience with Berninas specifically, but I bought a demo Singer 18 years ago (a computerized model) and it is still going strong, with only one minor repair about 5 years ago.  Can't ask for better than that, can you?  I use it ALOT!

    So when I was shopping for a new serger, I bought a demo model BabyLock Imagine Wave from the same local dealer, who has been in business over 25 years.  I watched the demo, so I know it was working like a top.  She included all the same attachments, manuals, etc., that came with a new one, as well as a new machine warranty AND she threw in a brand now rolling case for it.  I was totally unable to resist the deal and, so far, 6 months later, all is well.

    1. orion | | #9

      The more I talk to people, I'm finding demos are a pretty good deal!
      They want them to run well in order to sell the product.All I know is, I love my "new" Bernina!
      It's all so state of the art...

      1. User avater
        VKStitcher | | #10

        Congratulations on your new machine!  At the end of last year, I bought a BabyLock serger that had been used as a demo.  The dealer was so nice in showing me how to use it, gave me a great price, and also threw in a rolling cart.  It looks and runs like new.  Dealers have a vested interest in selling machines in top-notch condition, so you'll keep coming back!

        Happy sewing!

        1. User avater
          annenet | | #11

          This is really interesting and timely for me. I bought my Bernina 1010 as a demo and it's always behaved beautifully. I have 165E (new) I bought right before they discontinued it and it's a dream too. I got a hefty percentage off because the new machines were coming out. Now I'm adding another demo to my list - an Activa 220. The location of my dealer shut down (they still have three more) so I'm getting, overhauled with warrenty, for 40% off. I would not hesitate to buy a demo from a reputable dealer.

          1. orion | | #12

            I've joined that club!
            I'm thrilled with my 165E and can't wait to do some embroidery on it.
            I seem to have become a Bernina collector as well with my three sewing machines and one serger. Once you own one, getting rid of it seems impossible :-)

          2. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #13

            I would not hesitate to buy a demo from a reputable dealer.  I agree, but the key word is reputable!

            I grew up sewing on Mom's Singer 401A, so when it came time for me to buy my own machine, of course I thought I needed a Singer.  I was young and didn't do any research on other brands, or know that the beloved Singer brand had been sold several times to other companies.  I had just received a nice year-end bonus at work, so I went to the local Singer dealer to get a new machine.  The dealer impressed me with a sleek, white, computerized machine with 100+ stitches, automatic buttonholes, a thread cutter and lots of other cool stuff (remember, I was used to Mom's old machine!) "And since it's a floor model, I'll sell it to you for this great price, but the offer is only good until the end of the year." (which was the next day!)  "And hey, I'll throw in a carrying case too!"

            Well, shame on me for not doing my homework.  Although the machine performed well enough, I got suckered by his hard sell.  The "deal" wasn't that great a deal, and later I had issues with this dealer when I wanted to get additional feet for the machine.  I never felt like he wanted me to be happy with my purchase, he just wanted to be happy with his sale.

            As the years went on, I decided to get another machine.  This time I did lots of research online and in the stores.  I bought a different brand (Janome) from a different dealer.  I was a happy customer, so later I bought my embroidery machine (a demo) from that same dealer.  Last year I bought a BabyLock serger (also a demo) from another dealer, but I have shopped in their store often and like their fabric selection and service.  Again, I'm a happy customer.

            I don't have any experience with Berninas, but friends who have them rave about them.  I also hear they are pricey!  So good for you on getting yours for a great discount!  Happy stitching!

          3. orion | | #14

            I bought mine at Portsmouth Fabric Company in Portsmouth, NH. They are SO reputable, so I guess it should've been a no brainer all along. I never could've done it, had it not been a demo.Your story reminds me of the time my Grandmother bought her sewing machine at Sears (years ago). She went for a Kenmore that was on "sale". As soon as she got to the store, they no longer had that one in stock but steered her towards the more expensive models. She spent more money and it always bugged her about the old bait and switch. Sorry to hear that your salesman pulled the same type of trick. I'm so glad that, for the most part, the hard sell routine has pretty much disappeared.

          4. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #15

            I'm glad you have a great dealer, and got a top-notch machine at a great price.  You'll enjoy the embroidery.  There are so many cute designs--too many ideas and not enough time!


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