MARSHALL - Marc Milbradt has repaired sewing machines since he came to Marshall in 1984, and sewing machines have changed a lot in that time, but "it's still very basic," he said.
"Your needle has to pick the thread off the hook, same as when they first made them," Milbradt said. "You have to figure out why it's not doing that.
"Some of the ladies have had their machines for 30, 40 years and just love them," he said. "They bring that machine in and trust you to fix it."
Photo by Jodelle Greiner
Marc Milbradt does some repair work to a sewing machine recently. Milbradt figures that last year, he fixed about 220 sewing machines from around the area.
Last year, he worked on 220 machines at Marshall Sewing Center, inside the Purple Iris Yarn Shop, which is owned by his wife, Janna.
"The ladies say 'I don't sew too much anymore, but when I do, I want it to work," Milbradt said. "It's nice I can offer these people a service to fix their machine instead of throwing it away."
"The older machines are my specialty," he said. "A lot of times, you just have to clean the machine up, adjust things.
"Most machines can be fixed," Milbradt said.
To help him get the job done, he relies on a network of people he knows and a basement full of old machines he uses for spare parts, because "sometimes, they don't make the part anymore," he said.
His customers come from all over, "Monte to Springfield to Bellingham," Milbradt said. "I'm always amazed at where they come from, all over the place."
That may be because he tries to offer one-stop shopping, "if they call ahead," Milbradt said.
"One gal called ahead from Dawson, so I could fix it while she was here and take it back with her," he said.
"It's kind of a hobby type thing, but I enjoy it," Milbradt said. "Each machine that comes in is kind of like a puzzle. You have to find out why it's not working. When it comes in and it's not working at all and you get it fixed up and running nice and smooth - the satisfaction of getting the machine fixed and making the customer happy, always feels good to do that.
"It's still interesting and I still enjoy it. Can't believe it's been 25 years," he added. "Maybe someday I'll quit. God's given me good eyesight so I can keep working on them."