Apparel City is a small store in the SOMA district of SF, bursting at the seams with industrial machines and accessories and patternmaking tools.
I heart this store. I really do. You walk and it reeks of “garmento” (and that’s a good thing!). Messy, dusty, jampacked to the rafters, every surface covered with cones of thread, rulers, and boxes of random zippers. Most of the stuff is behind the counter. Everyone who works there is awesome. This is customer service at its finest. Here is a typical visit:
AC employee: Hi, can I help you?
me: Hi. I need pattern paper. How much is on a roll?
AC: *short explanation of their offerings, paper weights, yards per roll, offerings on per yard basis, etc*
me: Great. I’ll take a roll of the 150 lb. I also need a gathering foot.
AC: *shows me 2 kinds, explains the difference*
me: Great. I’ll take this one. Pattern hooks?
AC: They come 12 in a bag for $x [I forget how much exactly].
me: Great. I’ll take 3 bags and this thread and that’s it.
AC: Your total is $X. Where’s your car?
That is an example of their brilliant efficiency. It seems so simple, but let me tell, so SO rare! And then they always carry out heavy stuff like the rolls of paper to my car. The woman even offered to carry my rabbit-punch (which she tested in front of me) to my car. I mean, it’s not that heavy. They’re so good. Knowledgeable, quick, straightforward. I’m in love with them.
They are in San Francisco, but they also have a website if you don’t live around here. Call them–they are Asian but speak English very well. They’re nice but not overly chatty.
Another supplier I really like is Ron over at Ahearn Cutting. I bought my wonderful 6×8′ table from him at Lady Chickenjoy’s referral and we are both pleased as punch with our tables. He’s nice, even after I must have tried his patience once or twice. Give him a call. He will explain all you need to know about proformas, bills of lading, etc. Ask for a catalog too–they also sell rolling carts, teflon spray, all sorts of stuff (BUT, I can only endorse the tables since that’s the only thing I bought from him.) Ahearn is based in L.A.
There is this website called allbrands.com. I refuse to even link to them, as I don’t want you to go there. Their customer service team is comprised of people who don’t know what they’re doing. They will tell you one thing, and then accounting will step in and say that their customer service rep made a mistake but you have to pay for it anyway. Stay far, far away, I beg you. Just thinking about the dozen+ phone conversations I had with them over a 3-month span for a 3-item order gives me a headache.
On a sorta unrelated note, I just found out that Michael Levine, my favorite fabric jobber in L.A., was originally owned by my current boss’s family! Small world.