Am I a Bernina guy? Seems that way but perhaps not in the conventional sense. Let me explain.
I'm a budget-minded, frugal shopper. I always like a low price as long as the quality of what I'm buying is good or better. Sure, I'm saving money but I also like the sense that the value of whatever amount I've spent (and the effort it represents) has purchased something of similarly high value -- in my estimation. I also like dealing with sellers on a no-haggle basis: if I like a low price, I pay it with no questions asked, no dickering, whining, or later remorse.
You'll notice I own and have owned many Kenmores. They are excellent machines and can be found for such low prices that they have remained some of my favorite purchases. Years later (yes, I've been collecting for several now), I still appreciate what they can do apart from what little I paid to acquire them. In fact, nearly every machine I own was a 'deal' of sorts; I simply don't buy something that costs very much unless it's an absolute necessity. As long as it's a quality item, it remains on my radar or stuck in my craw until I make the decision to buy or move on. Some of you are probably just like me in this respect.
With this mindset, I've always been a little suspicious of the Bernina brand and I've only purchased Berninas with the same standards as other brands: high quality for low price. If you've observed the retail and private markets for these machines you'll understand that I haven't been quite as enthusiastic a collector because 1) the prices are generally so much higher and 2) the quality -- while often higher -- is not necessarily commensurate with the prices being charged. $10K for a sewing/embroidery machine, new, usually means that after a few years the owner will understandably want to sell for at least $5K if they don't choose to trade it in. That's just not in my budget for a hobby and past time. The question isn't 'Are Berninas good machines?' The company has for decades answered that with a resounding 'Yes!'. But that isn't the same question as 'Are Berninas worth paying so much more?' While I've had to be a little more flexible (read, willing to let go of more cash) when considering them, I still drive a pretty hard bargain with myself and I've let a lot of Berninas pass me by.
Nonetheless, I've been able to find some good deals on Bernina machines and this most recent acquisition -- a pristine Artista 730 with embroidery unit and software -- is as good an example as any. Bought from an estate reseller, this machine has only seen 49 total sewing hours (from the information screen in the machine's computer). That makes it nearly brand new although the model was discontinued several years ago at the advent of the 8 series machines. According to the family the seller dealt with, the owner was a quilter and didn't like this machine so she rarely used it. New, she likely paid about $8K according to the Bernina website and owners who bought it when it was on the market. I paid $300. Not pocket change (and I struggled a bit to justify it) but a comparative deal.
This machine is missing all but one presser foot (the seller sold the rest individually) as well as the embroidery hoop grids, some bobbins, and the original needle up/down presser foot. (An original Bernina foot controller was included and it does power the machine just fine but doesn't have the heel tap feature for needle up/down. I can live with it for a while although I will want to replace it eventually.) It also needed the 9mm zig-zag needle plate (that has been ordered) and a few other odds and ends.
It's a remarkable machine in remarkable condition. I can tell I'm going to spend many hours of enjoyment familiarizing myself with all its features, quirks, and hopefully sewing results. Just entering the welcome screen with its fanfare audio file splash graphic of a butterfly, seeing all the icons and touch screen buttons, and reading a bit of the manual all has me excited to see if I can get this machine working to its fullest potential. I'll have to spend a bit more money but at this price it will still leave me in screaming deal territory. Happy dance!