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Lisa Day, Hems in a Hurry, hits major business milestone while operating in Gresham

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Lisa Day still works on her mothers sewing machine as her business, Hems in a Hurry, celebrates 30 years in Gresham. There is perhaps no greater crisis that a bride whose dress won't fit.

Imagine the horror of a day you have been dreaming of since you were a child, surrounded by friends, family and the love of your life, ruined because a garment is too snug in one spot and too loose in another.

But luckily in Gresham there is a longtime businesses woman, often referred to as the "Fairy Godmother" or "Wonder Woman," who has been saving weddings and all other types of events for three decades.

"If someone needs something altered or hemmed for a wedding, funeral, date, I will bust my butt to get it done," Day said with a laugh.

Day's business Hems in a Hurry, 1132 N.E. Hogan Place, is set to celebrate the incredible milestone of being in business in Gresham for 30 years. The official anniversary is Thursday, Jan. 20.

"After 30 years you start to recognize a lot of the same customers," Day said. "I am doing work for folks getting married now who were just little kids running around this place as I helped their parents."

Day fell in love with the industry because of her mother, Anna Youngman, who opened the original Hems in a Hurry in Portland.

Growing up her mother taught her how to sew, and she would travel around Portland as her mom delivered altered clothes to dry cleaners. In high school Day officially joined her mother's team, learning the ins and outs of the trade and perfecting her craft.

Eventually Day brought that expertise to Gresham 33 years ago, originally working from home while taking care of her young kids. She would travel to local dry cleaners to pick up clothes and complete any alternations from her living room — mimicking how her mother got her start.

"I liked to connect with people and knew I was good at doing the work," Day said. " When I think about the milestone it blows me away, this is all I have ever done.

She officially opened her own branch of Hems in a Hurry in Gresham on 182nd and Division 30 years ago, named after her mother's business. She then moved to a location off Main and Division for 5 years.

But Day wanted more space to operate, and a location near her then-home always called to her. It was a large, prominent building where the original Glass Butterfly was located before it moved into downtown. So in 2010 Day moved Hems in a Hurry to its current location.

And despite all the moves, her mother's influence has followed Day. She still works on her mom's 45-year-old sewing machine.

"I live, breathe and dream this business," Day said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Lisa and Spencer Day are thankful for the support of customers who have been visiting Hems in a Hurry for the last three decades. The push to 30 years has been anything but smooth sailing, as Hems in a Hurry struggled during the pandemic like so many other small businesses. They had to shut down for a stretch after a positive test, which was difficult for Day who lives, breathes and loves the work.

"I've never not worked in my life," she said. "I feel guilty, like I am letting people down."

"She doesn't know what to do with her hands when she isn't working," quipped her husband Spencer Day, referencing a beach vacation last December for their 15-year anniversary. "We can't go anywhere in town without someone coming up and saying, 'You are the hem lady.'"

But that is what Day loves about the job. It is the conversations with regulars, some of whom travel from halfway across the state to see her. She has purposely avoided hiring staff because she loves to do the work herself — from the measurements and pinning to the sewing.

And while the pandemic was difficult waters to navigate, it also led to a boom in business as more folks were realizing clothes bought online without trying them on first is a recipe for alterations.

"Last wedding season we had more than 30 weddings we worked on," Day said. "It was stressful, but seeing the look on their faces when the dress fits is the most rewarding part of the job."

Day isn't sure what tomorrow's milestone anniversary will bring. Many years ago she mused that maybe retirement would the path she takes after 30 years in business, but she still loves the work and can easily imagine going for another 10 years at least.

For the anniversary Day will likely stick to a small get-together with family, perhaps a toast to all the decades with her husband and four boys.

"Thank you for your patience, kindness, loyalty, it's amazing," Day said. "Thank you to the customers who used to come see me when I worked at home who are still coming all these years later."

Hems in a Hurry

1132 N.E. Hogan Place

503-666-5011


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