Faces in the Crowd
Molly Chambers: Former Haggen grocery checker, sewing machine repair whiz
October 20, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Lived here for: 44 years
Originally from: Portland, Oregon
Notable: Retired grocery checker after 30 years at Haggen, owner of Molly’s Sewing Machine Service
When did you begin working at Haggen?
In 1984, when I was just a child.
What kept you there for so long?
The people, the customers, the crew. I just fell in love with the community. I realized that I would be there for a while, so I was just going to get to know them and embrace them.
What was your favorite part about the job?
The people. Absolutely no question. Just seeing those faces over and over again. [When there was] an early release from Fairhaven Middle School, all the middle schoolers would come over after school, and it would just be riotous chaos in the store. But I loved their energy, that they had this first little taste of freedom where they got to ... act like adults, only screaming. Watching people's children grow up and watching them go through their successes or hard times or whatever it was, but just being able to see those faces over and over again — it was the best.
I'd love to know about your business, Molly’s Sewing Machine Service.
I have actually been doing this for five years. I started repairing sewing machines in 1988 when my first son was born — actually, I wasn't repairing, I was cleaning and oiling. So, I thought I knew something. I started working on sewing machines about six or seven years ago, and then I thought, I don't know enough. So, I went to school in Missouri and got trained by Ray White. That's who NASA calls when their sewing machines break down.
He was just such a thoughtful teacher, and he taught in a way that I learned really well. I came back, and you just practice and 1,000 machines later, you feel like you know what you're doing. I just love it. It's such a little niche. What I love most about this job is that when somebody picks up their sewing machine that we've worked on, we can sit down and say, do you know about this, do you know about this? I see your sewing machine has got this problem and you can remedy that by doing this with your thread or that. It's absolutely satisfying.
What else do you plan to do with your extra time now that you're not working at Haggen?
We currently have four cats, and we adopted this old cat in December. She was 11 and her owner died, and so we were like, we need a cat. We'll take her! But she has just been a pain, but it's all been worth it. Now there's love, big-time love ... I [also] like to garden. I'm really close with my family. We have two sons and my mother-in-law is 93 and my husband's sister and her husband live in town. We do a lot of family things together, make sure we're always checking in on each other. It's a full life. It's really wonderful.