Sew Long Burien – Longtime Seamstress Closing Shop This Week

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by Rachel M. Lusby & Janet Grella

Local seamstress and artist Lupe “Marie” Montes is closing her shop, Marie’s Classical Tailoring & Alterations, located at 824 SW 152nd Street in Olde Burien.

At 90 years old, Montes is moving to an assisted living facility and may still do some alterations and tailor work for her longtime, regular customers. On March 2, she fell across one of her sewing machines, breaking her ribs. Her grandson found her lying on the floor when he stopped by after class at Mt. Rainier High School. After a trip to Highline Medical Center, she’s been rehabbing at Riverton since.

Lupe "Marie" Montes, 90, is closing her Olde Burien alterations shop.

Montes was one of the oldest shopkeepers in Olde Burien.

“Now there’s just Lola at the (Danish) Bakery left,” she said.

Montes grew up in Bisbee, Arizona and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her daughter Rachel Pizarro says her mother learned her trade largely on her own, but actually started out life wanting to be an actress. Montes moved to Los Angeles at age 18 to become a movie star, but could not find work.

“She was approached by a seamstress,” says Pizarro, “who asked her if she could sew.”

Montes found herself eventually in the L.A. garment industry and ended up managing huge factories of up to 200 workers. She was a bi-lingual production manager.

“She also worked fashion shows, and with illustrious designers in their showrooms, as an expert with very special fabrics and techniques,” says Pizarro.

Marie's trusty sewing machine.

According to her daughter, Montes learned the trade initially as a child from her mother. She sewed her own clothing to match the fashion magazines.

In 1969 1989, Montes moved to Seattle to be with her daughter and help provide childcare to her grandson.

Pizarro describes her mother as a “dynamo.” Widowed at the age of 39 with four children still to raise, Montes was the sole provider for her family.

She opened the shop around 1995 or 1996, according to Pizarro. “When my kids started going to school at Seahurst Elementary,” says Pizarro.

Montes bought the shop from a previous owner.

Prior to the shop, Montes would teach oil painting to seniors

“When I grew up and left home she started taking drawing classes and eventually became an accomplished oil painter,” says Pizarro of her mother. “Before she had the shop she taught painting at the Highline Senior Center when it was over on 136th and Ambaum.”

Many of Montes’ students continued lessons at the shop after it opened.

According to her daughter, Marie "traded in her car for a new set of wheels."

The key to Montes’ success, her daughter says, is her “ambition and skill.”

“She was born and raised in Arizona, so her bi-lingual skills gave her an advantage in the industry,” says Pizarro. “Her ambition and skill resulted in advancement to the executive offices.”

According to Rachel, “Marie has traded in her car for a new set of wheels,” as she noted Marie’s new walker.

The Montes kids (Rachel and son Frank) have been working all week on clearing out the store. They’re having a Garage Sale/Estate Sale now through this Saturday, March 27.

Merchandise includes:

  • Industrial sewing machines
  • Fabric
  • Zippers
  • Thread
  • Used clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Nick knacks

They’ve also got furniture and fixtures. You can find Marie and her kids at 824 SW 152nd Street in Olde Burien. Rachel tells The B-Town Blog that they hope to find a tailor to buy the shop. Interested parties should contact Rachel at 206-390-4129.

Here’s the Craigslist Ad:

Sewing Machines Alterations Shop-Going Out of Business – $1 (Burien)

Date: 2010-03-21, 8:20PM PDT
Reply to: [email protected]

Marie’s Classical Tailoring & Alterations is going out of business after 15 years in the same location – Olde Burien on 152nd and Ambaum. Industrial machines include one (1) Singer Sewing Machine, one (1) Blindstich, one (1) Pinking and one (1) Overlock. All 4 machines for $1000. Fabric, thread, notions and all the supplies necessary to run a service business to this diverse, waterfront community. If you want to keep the business going, talk to us about making a deal.

Call or visit Rachel or Frank. The owner and their mother, Marie, is finally retiring and moving to assisted living. We need to move everything out by Sunday.

Here’s our hours this week – March 23-27, 2010
Tues, Wed, Thursday from 10am – 2pm
Fri & Sat from 9am – 4pm

Come and make a deal, please!

Marie’s Classical Tailoring and Alterations
824 SW 152nd Street
Burien, WA 98166
(206) 246-4020 (Shop)
(206) 390-4129 (Rachel)

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3 Responses to “Sew Long Burien – Longtime Seamstress Closing Shop This Week”
  1. Rachel Pizarro says:

    Thanks for the nice story about my mom. One correction (probably a typo) – she moved to Washington in “1989” not 1969.

    A special shout out to Daystar Retirement for accommodating my mom on very short notice!

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  2. Coverofnight says:

    Good luck and good health, Marie!

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