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'It's a Southern Thing' sets up embroidery shop downtown

The orders go as far away as Afghanistan, and soon they will be shipped from downtown Thomson. Five years ago, Frankie Galbreath started doing embroidery work with a simple sewing machine on the floor of her garage at her house in Belle Meade. Now she's in the process of setting up shop next to the old Covington Credit building on Railroad Street.

"I love Thomson. This is my community," Mrs. Galbreath said. "Why should I take my business somewhere else?"

Setting up shop is taking a while because the business has grown from the one single-head machine to two additional 2,500-pound machines with four-heads, each running 48 needles. Called "It's a Southern Thing," the embroidery business also has a vinyl plotter and cutter to make cutouts for cars, windows and walls.

Mrs. Galbreath used to be a drafter at Plant Vogtle, but she said it was "too monotonous." So, she started hanging wallpaper, which she did for 10 years until wallpaper went out of style. After that, she bought a sporting goods store in Martinez.

"But I did not like selling baseball bats and gloves," she said. "I did enjoy embroidering the uniforms and engraving the trophies."

She sold the store, bought a sewing machine for herself, and continued doing the uniform embroidering for the new store owner.

"I didn't have to go out and sell the work. It sells itself," she said. "I think God helps those that help themselves. It's the way you treat your customers and how we run our business and how others see us running our business. That's what sells it."

The word spread until now, It's a Southern Thing does work for the 82nd Airborne from Fort Bragg, N.C., in Afghanistan, the All-American Band, for Vets For Freedom and the Vets National Heroes tour.

"The most fulfilling thing we have done is our military work," Mrs. Galbreath said. "I'm so thankful for our military because they allow me to live the life that I live. The work I do for the military is giving back to our country's military."

Her work is turning up with some famous names, too. She has a photo of Jon Voight wearing one of her jackets when he was a speaker at a Veterans tour. And she's also done work for a country club owned by Donald Trump.

Recently, Mrs. Galbreath received a contract a little closer to home, doing collegiate logos for a local clothing company. And the contract is large enough to keep those 48 needles pretty busy. Which means the shop on Railroad Street will be humming.

"Railroad Street has just had a boon the past year," Forward McDuffie Director Mike Carrington said. "I'm glad to see the activity."

Even though the business has grown, It's a Southern Thing will continue to serve local, individual shoppers who walk in off the street.

"That's why I keep the single machine," Ms. Galbreath said.

It's humble beginnings may be from Thomson, but the name came from above the Mason-Dixon line. Mrs. Galbreath said she has a close friend who is a Yankee, who frequently asks her why she does things a certain way.

"And every time, I tell her, 'It's a Southern thing,'" she said. "So it was a natural choice for the name of my business."

Web posted on Thursday, November 13, 2008

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