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The Fabric of Community: Residents Help Thread this Needle

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Family business, Golden Needle Tailor Shop has called Kalamazoo home since 1971. Over the past almost 50 years, the Fahs father-son duo has hemmed graduation gowns, perfected wedding dresses, and recently stepped up to create PPE for local hospitals. While they have kept our community looking in tip-top shape, their own hem began to unravel as the epidemic caused stay-at-home orders and social distancing regulations to extend. “We work 52 weeks a year. Six days a week, and then when this hit, we thought, okay, a couple of weeks off. I told my wife, we have a little cushion, we’ll be alright. But then, as the days went onto weeks and then weeks onto months, I became very nervous,” said Manager Fadi (Frank) Fahs.

With the help of local organizations, including the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership and Southwest Michigan First, Frank was able to apply for financial support opportunities including the Patronicity crowdfunding program that is accompanied by a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The benefit of crowdsource funding is the ability to utilize social media platforms to raise small amounts of money by a large group of people. Although the Golden Needle Tailor Shop is well-known in Kalamazoo, the company relies on the good word of its customers to advocate for its business. We’re basically word-of-mouth business. We’ve been around for so long,” said Frank. “We don’t have an email list or phone (numbers) or anything like that, we don’t even have a computer in the shop.”

With an original goal of $4,000, the Fahs family began posting on their own Facebook pages and reaching out to trusted clients, including Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens. “In the case of the Golden Needle, they go back almost 50 years to the father and uncle making custom shirts for executives from Upjohn and other local businesses,” said Ron. “The community has always supported them as their company has evolved. This is just another example of Kalamazoo supporting home-grown, small businesses that represent the soul of our community.”

In less than a week, the community has surpassed the $4,000 goal and has recently hit over $5,000 as well. Frank said the outreach from the community has been overwhelming. “We’ve always been around as a staple and survived everything. It was weird to have to ask people for something,” said Frank. “It’s very heartwarming to see people reach out and not just to us, to reach out to other members in the community, other businesses in the community and jump on board.”

While Golden Needle has reached its initial goal, there is still more than a week left to support their business. Frank said they are also open for customers during store hours or by appointment whenever it is more convenient for their customers. 

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