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September 2008
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Sewing Shops Experiencing Boom During Down Economy

While the words “recession” and “credit crunch” fill most of us with dread, for one family-run Bristol UK shop they mean a boost in trade. The Direct Sewing Machine Supply Company in Brislington is doing better than ever.

Owner Jeremy Segal, 43, said: “When times are hard, the recycling ethic and ‘make do and mend’ philosophy make a come back. “That’s what we are seeing now. Lots of people are investing in a sewing machine or digging out an old one that they bring to us to get repaired.

“People are also much more interested in designing and making their own clothes – things like wedding dresses and children’s clothes.”

Last year, Jeremy took over from his father Alf, who set up the business in 1963 – when his rent was just £1.50 a week. Alf, 75, still helps out at the shop a few days a week. He says he has seen business improve like this before when the economy has taken a turn for the worse.

“I saw this happen in 1976, and in 1991. Specialist shops like us don’t get hit the same as others – people still come to us as usual,” he said.

Last month, the Bristol Evening Post reported that several other shop-owners on Sandy Park Road, where the Segals’ shop is, felt their businesses were “dying” as passing trade decreased. Although the Segals have noticed less passing trade and are concerned about Sandy Park Road, their own books show that last year was its best financial period since 1978.

Alf and Jeremy also put the recent success down to a new initiative. “For the last few years we have been giving free lessons to anyone who buys a sewing machine from us. “That has definitely boosted out sales,” said Alf.

He said: “Sometimes people pick up some clothes in the charity shop next door and then make some alterations on their sewing machine they’ve bought from us – all in all it’s still cheaper than buying new clothes.”

Read the entire article in the Bristol Evening Post.

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