Sewing Machine Mechanic Classes Forming

What’s the hardest problem next to finding folks to sew your creations? jk-shirley-iieFinding someone to fix the machines! And more often than not, that someone is YOU. With the loss of factories in the U.S., sewing machine mechanics are few and far between. (We keep a listing of mechanics HERE.)

Well, a machine distributor here in the Nashville area is stepping up to do something about that. Whether you want training yourself or have an employee who could benefit, we need to hear from you if you are interested. A week-long class will cost $600 to $800 (depending on the machines covered). There must be a minimum of five students in a class to make it work. Travel and lodging is not included, but lunch is! So if you have an interest, please send us an email and let us know of your specific interests so that when the classes get going, you’ll hear about it first.

Grist Columnist: Boom Times!

says-bul245cover     April fool! I sort of remember boom times, but it’s been a good long while. If you’re under age 35 or 40 or you’ve been in business for just the last couple of decades, you really don’t know what boom times are. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I hope for all our sakes boom times will return. Boom times are fun!

In the past hundred years there have been two really booming stretches, in the 50s & 60s after WW II (that was before my time) and in the 80s & 90s after Ronald Reagan turned the economy around. I was smack in the middle of that one.

Here’s what it’s like: Success is rewarded with celebration (instead of being told: you didn’t build that). It’s hard to find employees because everybody’s working (instead of 90 million able bodies out of the work force, and shipping more in all the time). People buy stuff left and right (instead of scouring Craig’s List for every little thing). Working capital is easy (sometimes too easy) to get.

And.. And… And… Well, actually, it wasn’t all the land of milk & honey. It wasn’t all one big boom. The economy always cycles up and down, but each time there was a downturn, you gave it a few months and things would pop back up even better. And you could still shoot yourself in the foot & end up bankrupt. Or get obsoleted by tech advances like the telex got replaced by email got replaced by texting…

But there was a lot of excitement all the time, people jockeying for better jobs, better benefits, buying, selling, importing, exporting, chasing the next big thing. Prove me wrong but that ain’t happening nearly as much these days.

If you’re in small business, and you’re not voting, then the April Fool’s joke is on you. We can have boom times again, but we better get on the stick and put some people in place who will clear the way for all you young folks to have more boom, less bust; less Foolin’ and more Fun!

Boom or not, thanks for your business!

John F. Rebrovick

SouthStar’s new Bulletin #245 is now available. If you are a current customer or a recent addition to our mailing list, it should be showing up in a mailbox near you soon. If not, you can request a copy by writing us or click here to download a copy. Thank you!


SewBiz USA: Sewing Equipment Auction in Pennsylvania

Online auction. Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Pfaff & Juki sewing machines and Wolf straight knives formerly used by furniture manufacturer Mastercraft Specialties. Inspection available March 9th & 10th. Bidding closes March 11, 2015, 3:10pm. For details CLICK HERE.

SewBiz USA: American Giant is Made in USA!

americangiantlogoWhat a thrill to read another genuine success story from an apparel company committed to manufacturing its product in the U.S.A.! American Giant is featured by Fast Company as one of its 2015 Most Innovative Companies. To read the story CLICK HERE.

SewBiz USA: Seattle’s new minimum wage pushes sewing jobs out of state.

It’s practically a law of nature: labor-intensive, low-margin sewing businesses follow cheap labor. That’s how the South ended up loaded with apparel factories after the Northeast unionized at the end of the 19th century, how Mexico inherited the apparel production industry after NAFTA, and why most sewing is done in Asia today. So you gotta wonder what they were thinking in Seattle when they set the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They certainly weren’t thinking of entry level workers and Made in the U.S.A. jobs! Click the following link for more information:

“First Casualty of Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage”

SewBiz USA: Production Work Available

From our friends at SEAMS, “your resource for the USA sewn products supply chain:”

February 9, 2015

Production Work Available

A SEAMS Member is looking for a company to produce the following:

Product = 100% Acrylic Place Mat

Size = 12″ X 17″

Qty = 50 Dozen per month initially

Quantities will increase later.

*Will need to Sonic Mats

Company will buy horn

If interested please reply via email to

SouthStar Supply featured in “Shop Talk!” magazine.

says-shoptalkcoverWe’ve been friends with the folks at “Shop Talk!” magazine for years and years – in fact, publisher Dan Preston attended the one and only Sewing Business Seminar we organized here in Nashville way back in the ’90s. So it is quite a treat and a closing of the circle to be featured in this month’s “Shop Talk!” The magazine goes out to thousands of shoe and saddle shops, among others. It is, as the website says, “a comprehensive source for sewing machines, leather, leather working equipment, supplies, tools, horse healthcare and finished products for manufacturers, repair shops, retailers, crafters & collectors.” If you fall under those categories, you owe to yourself to subscribe, as the sources of supply in the advertisements alone are worth the price of the subscription. To visit the website, click here. And to read a PDF copy of the article featuring SouthStar, click here.

SewBiz USA: Contract cutter needed for flannel pieces.

We have received the following inquiry:

My company is in search of a company or individual who can cut flannel fabric for my product in 12 X 9 sizes.  It would be an ongoing project to supply material for production.  Do you happen to know of anybody who might provide this type of service?  We would need 100-200 12 X 9 flannel fabric pieces per month with a plan to increase supply.
If you are interested in performing this service, please email your contact info to us at and we’ll pass it along!

SewBiz USA: Globe Manufacturing

This week long time SewBiz friend of SouthStar, Globe Mfg. up in New Hampshire, received due credit for the job they do well every day making protective gear from the website DailyCommerce. Click here to read a very well written article about the company or click the image below to see the video.

Grist Columnist: Are you on the verge?

Bulletin-244-cover     Having been in business 25+ years now, I can look back and realize we were always on the verge of something, I just didn’t exactly know what most of the time.
Well, there were a couple of times we were on the verge of bankruptcy, and I sure knew that. You know it when the wolves are constantly howling at the door.
The first time was just a few years in. A real estate crisis had caused our savings & loan to call our loan even though we were making payments, and then the bank we turned to ended up taken over by the Feds! Jeez Louise. Every day it was, “Is this the day we’re supposed to close the doors?”
My S.O. and I were watching a psychic on a call-in show one night about then. She called in and asked if we were going to get the money we needed. Yep, said the psychic, you will get it from a sort of celebrity who lives outside of town.
By golly, about a week later a fellow walked through our door who lived on the county line and had made a big name for himself in local restaurants. He invested in SouthStar! He was like a small-scale venture capitalist, and though it took years to pay him back, he saved our collective keester. So I learned: weather the storm.
He taught me another lesson about being on the verge from his time in the food biz: be ready for success, too. You better be adequately stocked and staffed to handle popularity, or customers will go away if they have to wait too long for dinner no matter how good your food is.
The bottom line is, if you’re in business you are always on the verge. You better be ready for whatever the winds of fortune send your way. If you’ve got the guts, it can be a great ride!
Happy new year, and thanks for your business!
John F. Rebrovick

SouthStar’s new Bulletin #244 is now available. If you are a current customer or a recent addition to our mailing list, it should be showing up in a mailbox near you soon. If not, you can request a copy by writing us or click here to download a copy. Thank you!