Some of Irmi Watson's longtime customers are delighted she has expanded and opened a second alterations and tailoring business.
For the past decade, she has operated Irmi's Alterations in Redington Shores. Early this month, she opened on the mainland in the same Belleair Bluffs location where she began 16 years ago.
"It's a blessing that she's in this area now," said Gerard Lobo of Largo, who has been taking his alteration needs to Watson's beach location since she opened it. "She's a master seamstress."
"I've been taking my slacks, jeans and dresses to her for eight years," said Judi Sobek of Largo. "I'm so short that when I buy a pair of pants, they always have to be altered. She does everything beautifully. I wouldn't go anywhere else. I'd be in dire straits without her."
Watson grew up in Pleinfeld, Germany, on a farm that has been in her family for more than 200 years. At an early age, she developed an interest in sewing and received a master's designation from a German tailoring school.
When she came here in 1989 at age 29, she already had a decade of experience as a tailor. In 1992, she opened an alterations business with Hanson's Cleaners in Belleair Bluffs.
Where did you learn your craft?
I always wanted to be a tailor. As a child, I was fascinated by my aunt, who was a seamstress and had a home business. I watched and began learning from her and found I had a talent for sewing. I later studied at a school of tailoring in Germany. After graduating, I worked nine years at a men's clothing factory.
Why did you start this business?
I started working for Hanson's Cleaners at this store in 1992. When the owners decided not to renew the lease here at their fifth area business last month, they asked if I would like to take over the store. I said yes, it will be like coming home. I always liked working here. I like the people. It's a nice, tight-knit community. Everyone knows each other - I love that.
What services do you offer?
I do alterations on all types of clothing for men, women and children, tailoring of suits and jackets, repairs of tablecloths and curtains. I do everything but big, fancy wedding dresses covered with sequins and pearls. I also offer dry cleaning and shirt laundry services. I outsource that business with Hanson's Cleaners.
Chris Cosdon can be reached at email@example.com.
Irmi's Alterations and Dry Cleaning
Where: In the Belleair Food Mart at 514 Indian Rocks Road, Belleair Bluffs.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
For information: Call (727) 585-8505.