Leon Shpelfogel has been in the sewing machine business for more than 40 years. He started out working in his father-in-law’s Garment District shop, learning to build, repair and install the machines used by the then flourishing New York clothing industry. As the garment industry went into decline in the 60s and 70s, Shpelfogel’s business survived when many did not.
Fourteen months ago, though, the combination of extraordinarily high Manhattan rents and an increasingly shrinking garment industry, Schpelfogel closed up his shop on 37th St and moved to Midwood, Brooklyn.
It is unknown just how many Manhattan businesses have sought refuge in the more affordable outer boroughs, but for Schpelfogel, it was a move that made sense. His Coney Island Ave shop is a tenth the size of his old place, and he deals more with housewives then big designers, but business is steady and Shpelfogel is content.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/18/files/2010/11/101107-Final-Quote-1_1-2.mp3|titles=101107 Final Quote 1_1-2] Schpelfogel describes the differences between his former shop and his current business.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/18/files/2010/11/101107-Final-Quote-2_1-2.mp3|titles=101107 Final Quote 2_1-2]Schpelfogel talks about how outsourcing, a topic that has come up more and more as unemployment rates continue to be dismal across the US.[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/18/files/2010/11/101107-Final-Quote-3_1-2.mp3|titles=101107 Final Quote 3_1-2]Surviving the industry downturns.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/18/files/2010/11/101107-Final-Quote-4_1-21.mp3|titles=101107 Final Quote 4_1-2]Schpelfogel shares his thoughts about the future of the garment industry.