By Crystal McGough, sponsored content
Robin Parker founded Robin’s Sewing Shoppe 28 years ago after getting her start at Summers Sewing Center in Center Point. In February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit America, Robin’s Sewing Shoppe opened a second location on Valleydale Road, off Highway 280.
“These two locations keep me really busy,” Parker said. “I’ve had it for 28 years and it’s just gone strong ever since. We’ve had our ups and downs, like everybody else, but the Lord put me in it and He’s kept me here so far. I’m also very blessed to have a great staff at both locations.”
When the nation shut down mere months after opening her second location, Parker didn’t know what to expect, but her business became more crucial than ever as demand for home-sewn face masks was on the rise.
“I really didn’t know how we were going to survive to be honest, when the shutdown occurred, but we were able to hold onto the business,” she said. “We were almost forced to open our doors again.”
The 280 location did not reopen immediately, but reopening the Trussville store, which offers sewing machine repair and fabric, quickly became essential.
“People kept calling,” Parker said. “When we first closed, my technician, Ron, came to work every day and took care of answering the phone and took orders while still repairing sewing machines. We had a note on the door saying if you have a repair, we’d be glad to meet you at the door and swap out because we had a lot of repairs in the store at that time. So, people just started bringing machines constantly, needing them repaired because they were doing the masks and just needed them in the best working order. Then people started needing the fabric that was in the store, so I came back to work.”
When the demands became too much for Parker to handle on her own, she reached out to her staff, who quickly answered the call.
“I had two of them that came back for about two weeks before the rest of them came back,” she said. “We were swamped. Every day we were swamped. We took all the precautions necessary. We had the disposable masks, but a lot of people didn’t even come in. Many customers did phone orders and we usually mailed those out on the same day. Some would order and pick up at the door. But we still followed the regulations.”
While Robin’s Sewing Shoppe does sell fabric, notions, threads, patterns, etc., Parker’s pride and joy are the BERNINA sewing machines.
“The main reason I got into the business was because of the product that I sell,” she said. “It’s BERNINA and it’s the only brand that is still family-owned. The fifth generation is working in different areas of BERNINA and will eventually run the company when their dad, Hans Peter Ueltschi, retires. BERNINA has been in production since 1893. It is an incredible machine, and an incredible family owns it. Being a woman in business as long as I have, I would not carry any other brand but BERNINA. I believe in it so firmly that I could sell to any man that walked in and questioned me on it, even an engineer, and not have any doubt that what I’m saying is truthful because BERNINA machines are worth their weight in gold.”
Robin’s Sewing Shoppe does not sell any other brand of sewing machine besides BERNINA, but they do repair off-brand sewing machines if they are not under warranty with another company.
“We try to help the public in every way we can,” Parker said. “We sell all the sewing products a customer needs for their projects. We sell needles and bobbins for just about any brand sewing machine.”
Parker said that today’s sewing machines can range in price from $125 to thousands of dollars.
“You’re looking at a full computer when you start going into the top-of-the-line machines,” she said. “You connect a computer to them, and you’ve got everything you need to start your own business, as far as monogramming, embroidering for the public – they’ve got full capacity to do so many more things than they used to be able to do. And the thing about BERNINA machines that I’ve always stressed: it’s the one machine on the market today that you can sew through nylon and go straight onto soft boot leather and have no adjustment in the tension. It’s awesome. It’s just an incredible machine and quality of stitch is there no matter if you purchase the bottom-of-the-line or the top-of-the-line.”
When you purchase a BERNINA sewing machine from Robin’s Sewing Shoppe, you can be assured that Parker and her staff will make sure you are fully equipped to make the most of using your machine.
“When we sell a product, our main concern is to make sure that we follow up and that the customer gets their full instructional guide classes,” Parker said. “We don’t charge for those. To make sure that person understands that sewing machine to the fullest, we’re always there to help them out, whether it’s a phone call or they pop in or we make appointments with them.”
Parker said that prior to Covid-19, she would teach instructional guide classes that would take approximately a year to complete. Now, she said, BERNINA educators have thorough instructional videos readily available to the public via YouTube on the BERNINA channel.
In addition to instructional guide classes, Robin’s Sewing Shoppe offers a wide variety of sewing classes that include quilt classes, heirloom classes, home décor classes and children’s sewing classes. Classes are available to both adults and children, as well.
“Quilt classes are a big deal right now in the South,” Parker said. “We teach a lot of quilt classes and carry a lot of quilt fabric.”
Group classes are currently available through the 280 location. The Trussville store has not yet started back group classes but does offer one-on-one instructional guide classes. They hope to begin group classes in May.
Robin’s Sewing Shoppe also offers a sewing summer camp for kids ages 8-13. There is a limit of eight students per class, and a separate class can be arranged for any older teens who are interested in summer camp.
“Oh my gosh, I love my kids at camp!” Parker said. “We were not able to have sewing camp last year due to COVID, but we plan to start it back this summer. If you’re interested to have your child to participate, please call the Trussville location and put your name on the list. It fills up really fast.”
You can visit Robin’s Sewing Shoppe online at www.robinshoppe.com or stop by either of their two locations:
5886 Trussville Crossing Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35235 (205-655-3388)
5291 Valleydale Road, Suite 121, Hoover, AL 35242 (205-848-2302)
“I just love people and I know God gave me this business,” Robin Parker said. “I care about my customers like they are my friends. It’s a Christian-based store and I treat people the way I would want to be treated. I absolutely love what I do.”