Gratz Sewing has been serving the sewing community from it's Waterford Plaza location since 1992, but the Gratz Family legacy started long before that.

In 1926, Francis (F.D.) Gratz, the founder of Gratz Sewing, worked for the White Sewing Co. While working for them, he opened several stores. In 1949 Francis opened his own store at the corner of 35th and Fremont Aves. N. in North Minneapolis. Duane, his son, grew up in his father's business.

At the very young age of seven, Duane was introduced to the world of sewing machines by cleaning them. After inheriting the business from his father, Duane moved the business to the Waterford Plaza in Plymouth in 1992, where he continued to work until he retired in 1994. After his retirement, he continued as a consultant in the business until his death in 2002.

Since the age of sixteen, Duane's son David has been working in the business and today carries on the legacy that his grandfather and father have left him.

"Craftsmanship still pays, Camden merchant says"

For 27 years, the store of Francis (F.D.) Gratz has occupied the corner of 35th and Fremont Aves. N. There Gratz has sold and repaired sewing machines, but more so he believes he has "provided a service" to the neighborhood.

In this day of chain stores, shopping centers, and discount stores, people often wonder what the future of small business is. Gratz believes his trade has been good to him and looks forward to a bright future.

"Satisfied customers and quality work keep people coming back," explains Gratz. Most of his business comes from local people.

"Nowadays people

 are trained a week, and they're out fixing someone's machine," he said. "In 1926 I was sent to the White Sewing Machine factory in Cleveland. I spent six months learning how the machines worked there, and another six months learning how to repair them."

Today Gratz repairs all makes and models, and is an official distributor for one brand.

Sewing machines today are more complicated, and therefore better craftsmanship is needed in repair work," he explained. But Gratz said the new models make it fun to sew, and unlike most items, prices are comparable to those of years ago.

"A grandmother came here the other day excited about how much fun it was to sew again. She had just finished making three garments for $3. Ready-made, they would have cost her $5.99 each."

Saving is only

  one reason for the boom in the business. Gratz said fabric centers and the teaching of sewing in the schools also explain why more people are sewing today than years ago.

"Years back, poor people bought machines. They couldn't have some things unless they sewed. Today everyone is getting educated to the savings in home sewing."

Gratz doesn't find much time for sewing himself nowadays, although he has done a lot in the past, and his wife Myrtle made all her clothes until she lost sight in one of her eyes.

Gratz and his wife live in the back of the store, and that makes things convenient. He related how on a recent night he worked until 1 a.m.

Times were not

 always prosperous for the surgical-jacketed craftsman with the wire-rimmed glasses. Gratz told of a Christmas during the depression when he had worked a week on the floor at Donaldson's and hadn't sold a machine.

In fact, he was $20 in the red for gifts he had purchased. He said, "It was 4:30 on Christmas Eve and a young couple came in and were interested. I promised personal, same-day delivery and helped them receive a credit OK.

"Their home was on a hill in Northeast, and not only that, they lived on the fourth floor. I went home at 8 that evening one of the happiest people in the world; I had my $20."


Waterford Shopping Plaza
10100 6th Ave. N. #123
Plymouth, MN 55441

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