Thanks to everyone for the advice so far!! I went through some of the other threads to see what others were saying about their own machines/ issues with their machines.
As far as asking friends, the only friend that sews is at a level WAAAAAY above mine -- she made her own wedding gown (and I mean like the huge cinderella type), bridal party dresses, flower girl, the tux for the groom, etc. I know she has 3 machines -- think 2 are the big Viking ones and one is an antique but I don't know the brand. :-)
I like the advice about checking sewing shops. I'm going to see if there are any near here other than the JoAnn (I'm in Buffalo, NY, and so far the closest I've heard of is about 35 minutes away).