I was thrilled when I saw this ad for Pfaff sewing machines on the first page of the April 1952 edition of Today’s Woman magazine. Advertisers pay big bucks for this spot in the magazine which is a thicker page with a glossy finish. An ad with a sweet illustration such as this with a mom and smiling daughter is a pleasant treat for my 21st century eyes.
Pfaff sewing machines are in a different league than the more mainstream Singer or White. If a Singer is a Chevy and a White is a Ford, then a Pfaff is a Mercedes.
My sister-in-law tells the story of her desire to get one of Pfaff’s new computerized machines in the 1980’s. The price was out of her league, but she didn’t care. She wanted one, and would do anything to get it. She learned that she could pay in installments. Her plan was to pay small amounts each week. The store would hold the sewing machine for her until it was completely paid off. Each Friday, she would drive to the Pfaff store where she would pay her agreed-upon amount. She did this so often that she grew to look forward to her weekly trip and the folks at the store grew to love her. Then, when she was still months away from having it paid off, they surprised her. “Take it home today”, they said. “We know you’ll pay it off, we want you to have it now.” She loves to tell this story, and continues to enjoy top-of-the-line sewing machines. As for her her cherished early-computerized Pfaff? She gave it to her granddaughter to continue the family sewing tradition.
The retail industry called this concept Lay-a-Way. It was a popular 20th century option for big-ticket items as an alternative to financing. As a teenager, I remember using lay-a-way for shoes and clothing. It was always so satisfying when the day came to make the final payment and bring the item home.