Business grows with sewing popularity
By FLORI MEEKS
Ken Carpenter speaks to people every day who are seeking the right tool to help express themselves.
They're looking for a sewing machine.
The sewing machine industry is motivated by people's desire to be unique," said Carpenter, owner of Sewing and Vacuum Warehouse in northwest Houston.
We're in a day and age when people want to display their individuality, and they're doing that through sewing."
Carpenter's business at 18351 Texas 249 has been selling sewing machines and vacuums to the community since 1990.
The store also repairs sewing machines and vacuums, regardless of where the equipment was bought, and it offers lessons, clubs and special events to help community members make the most of their sewing machines.
Not only can the machines provide a creative outlet, they can be a tool for those intent on living a green lifestyle.
For many, Carpenter said, sewing machines tie in with a growing interest in recycling.
Users can transform bags, garments and other items into new pieces and give them fresh beginnings.
Carpenter also sees a steady interest in commercial embroidery machines, which entrepreneurs can use to launch home-based embroidery businesses.
The shop provided information about the embroidery machines earlier this month when it hosted a two-day Start Your Own Embroidery Business" seminar.
The demand for embroidery items is there," Carpenter said.
It's a very strong word of mouth business. I have customers who started with one small machine who now have two multi-needle machines just to catch up.
It allows them to be a mom while they're earning income."
Carpenter said he enjoys getting to know the people who come to his warehouse, and the people who work there.
You make friends over the years. One of my sewing instructors has been here over 18 years."
Assistant manager Lynn Blake, who oversees sales and education, has been with the store eight years.
Helping customers navigate their choices can be a rewarding experience, Blake said.
I like fitting the right sewing machine to what a person is looking for and the excitement of them seeing what they can do."
She also shows customers how easy the machines make sewing today.
They can even thread the needle for you," she said.
Clubs at the warehouse are available for sewing machine brands, like Brother, Janome, Pfaff and Viking, and for specific interests including quilting.
Another group, the Night Owls, gather to sew and quilt between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., though no one is required to stay the whole night.
Class options range from basic sewing to specific sewing projects.
A Feb. 6 class, for instance, worked on quilt bags from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information about the warehouse, along with class, sale and special event announcements, visit www.sewingmachinewarehouse.com.
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