Yellowknife’s Stitch’in Gwich’in finds success in sewing machine repair business – North

Roger Fraser knew he’d be busy when he opened his sewing machine repair business in Yellowknife last January; afterall, Stitch’in Gwich’in Sewing Machine Repair and Sales was — and remains — the only business of its kind in town.

But the retired government worker did not expect it to be this busy.

Fraser estimates he’s tightened and tweaked several hundred machines since opening shop, for an average of four to five sewing machines a day, depending on the time of year.

“I like to slow down in the summer,” Fraser says with a chuckle. “I’m retired you know.”

Fraser spends most of his tightening belts and degreasing gears but plans to visit the communities in 2018. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

Many of the repairs are long overdue. Fraser estimates some machines haven’t been serviced in 10 to 15 years — or ever — because typically, it cost more for freight than for repair.

“You open them up and you see the grease in them and the oil has turned to a white and yellow putty so that slows your machine down and makes it sluggish. Once you clean them up and re-time them, they work properly,” Fraser says.

His wife Karen Wright-Fraser, an accomplished seamstress, encouraged Fraser to go into business. 

“She was the same as everybody else. A machine would break down and she just bought another one. So she said, ‘why don’t you repair sewing machines?'”

A friend, who knew Fraser is from the Gwitch’in First Nation, suggested the name. 

Slow but steady growth

Fraser’s clients include sewing groups, schools and individuals like Sandra Pryftupa.

Karen Wright-Fraser’s antique, broken sewing machine. (submitted by Karen Wright-Fraser)

“I was delighted with the work that Roger did,” Pryftupa said.

She says two of her older machines that Fraser repaired are working “like new.”

Pryftupa welcomes the opportunity to shop locally.

“It’s wonderful to do business with people who live and work in the North. And not rely on…

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