The Chestnut Hill location of Perfect Stitch has proven to be a great spot.
“I have been busy since the day I moved into the store,” said owner Bruce Levin, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of the upholstery business this summer.
What passers-by will find at 8012 Germantown Avenue is a shop that provides office and in-home upholstery services, slip covers, outdoor furniture upholstery and draperies. What they will also find is a family business that has adapted and moved with changing demands and economies, with a history rooted in Philadelphia and a business that prioritizes quality and customer satisfaction.
“Nothing goes out there that I have not inspected — I’m with every delivery,” said Levin, who operates Perfect Stitch as the sole full time employee. He works with three independent contractors and works with Tim Carey on the drapery side.
Levin, 72, began sewing at the age of 16. On Saturday afternoons, he learned the machines at the Perfect Rubber Seat Cushion Co., which his grandfather started in 1935 in the Tacony section of Philadelphia.
HIs grandfather, a cap maker, designed cushions with fiber on one side and cloth on the other. The business of 11 employees went from one type of cushion to producing a range of types to ship nationwide, sewing 2,000 a week for office furniture and stools.
Over the years, Levin went to school to study education and Spanish with plans to become a Spanish teacher. He earned a second degree in accounting. He continued to work at the business, covering for his father when he had a heart attack and eventually becoming a partner and then opening his own business on July 12, 1970. He sensed the end of the cushion industry as he knew it in the late 90s and shifted to focus on the upholstery end.
Levin has operated a few iterations of the business under different names and in a few locations in the city. In 2008, he set up shop in Chestnut Hill as Perfect Stitch. Most of his clients are in the Chestnut Hill area, but others are as far away as Reading and New Hope. He works seven days a week, four of those in the showroom on Germantown Ave. and the other days working on pieces at the workshop in Ambler.
This spring when COVID-19 hit, Perfect Stitch closed the showroom like most businesses in Chestnut Hill for the end of March, April and May, but Levin continued to work on pieces and fulfilled orders following safety guidelines. The shop doesn’t have a website or social media. Levin takes out one advertisement in the Local and currently, amidst the pandemic, Levin is busy and booking through November. Like hardware stores and garden shops, he says he is benefitting from people staying in and pursuing home improvement projects.
“We have a lot of outdoor furniture right now,” Levin said.
On September 11, 12 and 13, Perfect Stitch will host the End of Summer Sidewalk Sale, featuring many of the avenue’s retailers and is offering discounts, having a fabric remnant sale and a chair sale.
The chairs are a staple window display at the shop. Levin’s partner finds them at thrift stores, reupholsters them himself and then sells the chairs at the store for $40-$45.
“We don’t make any money on them,” says Levin. “But everything sells — it’s amazing! Some people argue over them. It’s a solid piece for 40 dollars that’s going to last.”
Perfect Stitch is open Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.