by J.B. Hyppolite
Bruce Levin, 64, is the designer and owner of The Perfect Stitch, which is celebrating five years at 8012 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill. Levin is a third-generation upholsterer and has been in the business full-time for 42 years.
The Perfect Stitch’s showroom is set up to look like a living room in an effort to make customers feel at home while in the store. Bruce makes sure he has all the sample books shown. “All people need to do is bring me a picture, and I can take it from there; I can tell them how much fabric they need, labor costs, make arrangements for pickup and delivery…The people in Chestnut Hill have been very loyal. I really have luckily not, knock on wood, not had a slow period since I started,” said Bruce, whose partner is Glenn Pitt, owner of a catering service, Culinary Design Associates , which offers party planning and a variety of upscale catering activities.
“If I promise the date of delivery, I make sure that I make that date of delivery. Much to the chagrin of credit card companies, I don’t take credit cards, so I’ve been able to avoid adding that surcharge on to my customers.”
The original incarnation of The Perfect Stitch began at Philadelphia’s Tacony section. Bruce’s grandfather’s company, named “Perfect Rubber Seat Cushion,” began manufacturing cushions in Northeast Philadelphia in 1935. After Bruce took over the family business, the focus stayed on foam rubber chair cushions, usually for office chairs. Office furniture wasn’t known for being pre-upholstered in the 1990s, so cushions were a must, and Bruce began providing them.
His cushions have been used by Pomerantz, an office supply store in Center City, and Harvard University has a special piece of furniture called “The Judge’s Chair.” It is pictured in the Harvard University Alumni Magazine and is regularly purchased by devoted alums. Harvard provides a cushion for each chair, made by Perfect Stitch. In yet another venue, Bruce made over 100 bench cushions, each 150 inches long, for Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Unfortunately, however, in general the cushion industry has dwindled.
“I went into the upholstery line because I saw that the individual cushions were dying out; that business was going,” said Levin. “By the mid- to late-‘90s that business was gone all together, and I was doing upholstery full time.”
When office furniture at last became available already upholstered, and the big box stores like Office Depot offered what he was making, Bruce took the cue and in 1996 sold his wholesale supply factory and went retail to the public. He started with kitchen breakfast set chairs and furniture for medical offices. From day one he established a 24- hour delivery time, and early on, provided in 24 hours, a much-needed exam table for a newly opened medical office.
Bruce’s business left Tacony after he sold his building and went from wholesale to retail. It moved to Wyndmoor and then landed in its current Chestnut Hill location in 2008. Levin has a BA in Education from Penn State University and a BA in Accounting from La Salle University. He has a daughter named Stephanie and a son named Michael.
For more information, call 215-242-2114.