When people ask me why I decided to fix sewing machines, there isn’t really an easy answer. No one thinks it is a service that people want or are willing to pay for. Why would anyone want to start a business fixing something with such a small user base?
Well here goes. I grew up in a house where dad was always doing some sort of odd job to make money. Most of the time he was employed, but he also did side jobs to bring in extra money. As long as I can remember he had an industrial sewing machine as well as a regular sewing machine. He used to reupholster furniture, my brother and I made a little money as kids helping to remove the fabric and pull staples from the furniture. He also sewed curtains and window treatments with the industrial machine. About 30 years ago, he made some giant curtains for our church, which are still hanging today. So needless to say, we grew up around sewing machines and a DIY spirit.
I started working right out of high school in electrical machinery repair. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that I could learn how to do anything. I worked on electrical machinery, mechanical machinery, interfacing systems and everything from light bulbs to power distribution equipment. Over the 24+ years I have developed some pretty good troubleshooting and repair skills. I worked my way up from grunt to leader and recently was doing some soul searching to determine what I would do next.
I am heading to retirement soon and need to find a new field to enter. I know that I’m done working for a boss and I don’t need to make a lot of money for our family to continue at our current standard of living. Mostly due to my lovely wife restarting her career since she was focusing her time on our kids. I truly believe I can do anything, but what would I enjoy doing? I thought long and hard on this and prayed about it for many years. I tried literally hundreds of different hobbies to see what I enjoyed. I fixed Ipad screens, I played with small electronics, I did a lot of home improvement projects, I tried cooking, grilling and smoking meat, woodworking, making various things, fixing cars, etc.. Most hobbies would last a few months, cost a lot of money then fade away. I had to brainstorm as my retirement gets closer. I figured that I wanted more of a hobby that could make some money, vice cost money. I wanted it to be relatively small, like little inventory so fixing cars was out. I didn’t want it to rely on selling things, so buying, fixing, selling was out. I was stuck, and didn’t know what to do.
Fast forward to 2018, dad passed away. It was a rough time for me, my brother and sister. I think it brought us a little closer in the end, there is always some good in the bad. My brother had gone to dad’s house to get some things and he picked up dad’s old industrial sewing machine. It had been sitting in a garage in Florida unused for around 20 years. It was covered in rust and the tabletop was bowed. I decided that I would restore it to keep his memory alive. I picked up the machine from my brother at a weird time in my life. I was living on a campground in a camper because I had moved for work, and my wife and kids stayed behind to finish the school year. I tore apart the sewing machine in the back of my pickup truck. I decided to take the sewing machine head to a repair place and have them clean and adjust it. I took the legs to a powder coating place to have them stripped and coated. Once we moved into our new house, I ordered a new tabletop for the machine and then put everything back together. I looked at the head and then realized that I shouldn’t have paid someone to clean and adjust it. Why didn’t I just figure it out myself? Facepalm.
I was staring at the answer to my hobby problem. I started research that day. I bought a few books, watched a lot of youtube, and purchased a bunch of cheap old sewing machines at the local thrift stores and online marketplaces. I got about 4 machines at first and was able to fix them all and adjust them back to factory settings. I realised that my skills were a perfect match for this industry. But, was there a demand for this service? I knew of 2 places within 50 miles of my location, so there must be some customer base. I then started advertising on Facebook and started a google my business site. I got business cards made and the calls started that week. I have consistently had a stream of customers from the start and word of mouth has really helped as well. Apparently some of the repair shops would rather sell you a new sewing machine than fix your old one. I love fixing these amazing machines, each one is different and the reasons they stop working are different as well. It keeps me on my toes and helps my brain to stay engaged. I have noticed that this seems to be a dying industry. Most of the people who fix sewing machines are not young. I think there is a hole in the marketplace here, lets see how this goes.