Crown Point's Sophie retires after three decades on the Square

2013-06-14T16:24:00Z 2013-06-17T17:56:04Z Crown Point's Sophie retires after three decades on the SquareDiane Poulton Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 14, 2013 4:24 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | After three decades on Crown Point’s historic Courthouse Square serving three generations of families, Sophie Burwinkel is closing her shop.

Burwinkel, owner of Sophie’s Alterations and Tailoring at 105 S. Court St., has decided it is time to retire and experience some new travel destinations.

“I want to see something new,” Burwinkel, who travels regularly to Poland and has visited the Holy Land, said.

Burwinkel said her customers have been loyal even when they moved away to other towns, cities, states and countries  -- as far away as Morocco.

“After they move away, they bring in their sewing when they come back to visit relatives or friends in Crown Point and pick it up before they leave to go home,” Burwinkel said.

Burwinkel has sewn the patches on the Cedar Lake Police Department’s uniforms for years and has made priests’ vestments and stoles for the diocese of Gary. For one diocesan celebration alone, she sewed 60 vestments and 150 stoles. Burwinkel has worked long hours, often from 6:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Burwinkel has seen her clients’ children grow and become customers themselves.

“Sophie was part of our lives for three generations,” Deb Kelleher, Schererville resident and co-owner of the St. John Quiznos, said. “My mom would have pants taken in for her and my dad.”

Kelleher said her daughters have grown up with Sophie altering their clothes. The older girl is a student at Butler University.

“We inevitably end up needing something altered before she has to leave for school,” Kelleher said. “Sophie would always make sure, even if she was booked, that the sewing was completed before my daughter had to head back to Indianapolis.”

“She is really just sweet, and I am going to miss her terribly,” Kelleher said.

Learning to sew in Poland from local dressmakers, when she first came to the United States Burwinkel worked at an East Chicago men’s clothing store altering clothes. Moving to Crown Point in 1983 when she married her late husband Richard, she opened her shop at its leased prime location on the west side of the Courthouse Square. Burwinkel said at the time she spoke no English.

Customers can take their sewing to Burwinkel’s longtime aide Genia Konefal, who worked at Sophie’s for 29 years. Konefal, who can be reached at (219) 308-1975, will be sewing out of her home in Cedar Lake’s Havenwood subdivision.

Burwinkel said the last day to pick up sewing at Sophie’s will be June 21.

Burwinkel said her work has been satisfying but most of all she will miss her wonderful customers.

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