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Boreal Community Media

A stitch in time: News about Heavy Duty Sewing

Sep 08, 2017 07:54AM ● By Editor
Jeff and Anna Latz hold a picture of a younger version of Anna working hard at a sewing machine in the early days of Heavy Duty Sewing. The Latzes are slowing down but aren’t giving up the business. They are asking customers to call and set up appointments rather than walk in because they may be off visiting grandchildren. Staff photo/Brian Larsen 

By Brian Larsen from the Cook County News Herald - September 7, 2017

After 38 years Anna Latz is attempting to slow down. The owner and operator of Heavy Duty Sewing in Lutsen isn’t quitting, she’s just cutting back on regular store hours, “So Jeff and I can spend more time with our grandchildren,” she said this past week.

Jeff is Anna’s husband. “I supply moral support,” he said with a broad smile. But Anna countered, “No, he installs window treatments and he does the book keeping He’s a big help to me.”

Over the years, said Anna, “We have employed and trained a lot people.” But today Anna is the lone sewer and repairer of items. “That takes the pressure off me to schedule work for employees. Now, I only have to schedule for myself.”

Heavy Duty Sewing began in the basement of the Latz house that was located on the Rose Running property. Today the house serves as the Sea Villas housekeeping and management office.

“It was a dream of Nancy Cihlar’s and mine to start a sewing business that would provide jobs to community and allow us time raise our kids. And it worked,” she said. 

That dream became a reality when Sawbill Outfitter owner Frank Hansen loaned the gals $1,200. They used $500 to buy a sewing machine and $750 to purchase supplies. Then it was off to the races.

“I think we have worked for every outfitter, motel/hotel owner, practically everyone in the county has had us sew or create something for them,” Latz said.

Ten years after Heavy Duty opened Nancy opened Great Gifts and Anna bought out Nancy’s half of the business. Today Great Gifts, which sells some of Heavy Duty’s products, is on the first floor of the Clearview building while Heavy Duty Sewing operates just above on the second floor. In fact, Heavy Duty can be accessed through a stairwell located in Great Gifts.

“It has worked out very well for both of us,” said Anna.

Heavy Duty specializes in upholstering furniture but Latz loves design work, and over the years she has developed a line of heavy duty canvas magazine and card racks as well as wood carriers that are sold throughout the region. Five years ago she sold Heavy Duty Designs and manufacturing to Terry Rannetsberger, a longtime employee.

If upholstery is the bread and butter of the business, repair work is also a main staple. “We put new zippers in coats, patched tents, fixed camping equipment, repaired furniture, made repairs for all types of things,” she said.

Heavy Duty Sewing made a name for itself because of the quality of the work it has done over the years. And the word got out. Calls have come from out of the blue. One came from a Norwegian musher who ordered sled dog bags and another from rural postmen who work for the U.S. Postal Service in Texas who ordered car door protectors the shop sewed for them. “We have gotten orders from all over the country,” Latz said.

Today one of Anna’s protégés, Brad Bergslien, is working in his own upholsterer business called Harmonic Outfitting Co. in Duluth. “He’s a great kid. I hope people support him.”

As far as Heavy Duty Sewing, “I’ll still be here. I enjoy the work. But Jeff and I both enjoy our kids and grandchildren and it’s time for us to spend more time with them.” 

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