Sew What legacy to carry on with a new fusion of ideas |

Sew What legacy to carry on with a new fusion of ideas

Sew What's new owners Calais Cervetti Kruse, left, and Melissa Dow, right, are joined by business founder Maggie Bentz in the space the business plans to move into later this year. Bentz has sold the business to Cervetti Kruse and Dow after more than 36 years.
John F. Russell

If You Go...

What: Grand Opening and Thank You to Maggie celebration

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16

Where: Sew What, 842 Lincoln Ave.

— For 36 years Maggie Bentz has been known as “Maggie from Sew What.”

She doesn’t have a client list but rather knows everyone by name. No matter the request — broken zippers, torn jackets, jeans that need patching, buttons replaced — she was always up for the challenge.

Now, she will be passing the torch of Sew What to locals Calais Cervetti Kruse and Melissa Dow.

“I always thought it would be terrifying, because I’ve been identified with Sew What for so many years,” she said. “It’s just time to do something different. I will always sew, but after 36 years, it’s time. I’m not sure what I will do next, but it’s kind of exciting to be able to reinvent myself.”

Cervetti Kruse and Dow officially took over Sew What this week and plan to move into their newly remodeled location, a few doors down from its current location above Lyon’s Corner Drug & Soda Fountain on Lincoln Avenue. Their vision for the business is to continue with alterations and repair, in addition to adding shoe repairs from Nicolette Odendaall, owner of Sole Man, a shoe repair and custom leather work business.

A grand opening will be held at 6 p.m. March 16 in the new Sew What location. The event will also include a Thank You to Maggie celebration, and new and old customers are invited stop by, say “hello” and see the new Sew What.

“The first time we went out and had a glass of wine to talk about the business, I was just really comfortable with them,” Bentz said. “They have all of the fundamentals in the transition; it’s just about teaching them those shortcuts to do things more efficiently to get the same good-looking end result. It feels like we’ve all been working together for a long time, and they fit right in.”

In July 1980, Bentz was a bartender at the Tug Boat, and her friend Julie Flax was a waitress. Both were well-versed as seamstresses, and with an offseason that left the town barren of visitors, she said they were left trying to find things to do during that time.

“Julie and I started Sew What as a fabric store in 1980, where Mahogany Ridge is now,” she said. “When the economy got really bad, and people started recycling things, they needed patching, mending or for us to replace buttons. We started getting really busy, because people came to us instead of throwing stuff away.”

Since then, business has been steady, and even though Bentz will no longer be in charge of Sew What, her legacy will continue.

“Maggie is just so passionate about this business and her clients,” said Cervetti Kruse. “She has her own way of doing things, because that is what has worked. It’s pretty unique to have someone who has been running a business such as this for 36 years with all of her expertise.”

Dow is known for her business, One Leaf, a clothing company that started with her “hip huggers,” a reversible fabric, stretchy layering band, along with kimonos. Cervetti is known for her work in repairing outdoor gear and her handmade rafting gear.

“It really does feel like it’s meant to be,” Dow said. “We are really proud to carry on the tradition, because it’s definitely a huge service to the community. Everyone knows Maggie, so it’s a big name to live up to. We hope to connect with the customers like Maggie has and to keep that familiarity with them when they come in. We are also excited to put our own little twist on it.”

“It’s neat that we came in having totally different skill sets that fill each other’s gaps. It’s pretty special,” Cervetti Kruse added. “This whole time we’ve been talking about taking this on, it seemed like everything in the universe was just pushing us towards this.”

The two have tossed around a variety of ideas, including hosting sewing workshops and offering the space as a venue for crafters and artists to gather for various events. But for now, they are working on the transition and getting the business under their thumb.

“I thought it would be hard to pass on the torch of Sew What, but it’s really not,” Bentz said. “I just love these two girls so much, and to have them want to carry on and to do the same things is such a good feeling and gives me freedom to do God knows what.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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