Making green from red

Published 9:38 am Monday, June 27, 2011

People browse through the merchandise Thursday that was set up by Reinertsons Embroidery of Albert Lea at the Red Power Roundup. They set up shop in the Lion’s Bingo building. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Sewing began as Gladys Reinertson’s lifelong passion. She began the craft as a child and has turned her skill into a successful career with Reinertson’s Embroidery.

Gladys Reinertson and her husband, Lyle, have been traveling to tractor shows across the Midwest for more than 20 years as a business before settling in Albert Lea 15 years ago. The couple sells embroidered items such as towels, jackets, blankets, hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts.

Hats, shirts and other merchandise were available from Reinertsons Embroidery at the Red Power Roundup. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

“When it’s your passion and your life and you really enjoy doing it, you just keep doing it,” Gladys Reinertson said.

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For the 22nd National Red Power Roundup at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds, the Reinertsons over the past two months prepared items sized from 6 months up to 6XL.

Even though they own a smaller business, they can’t quit everything else to concentrate on the items for one big show like the Roundup. The process of preparation is fairly lengthy and consists of Gladys being able to work in the retail store with the show products, while at the same time helping customers there, and building inventory for Lyle, who is on the road at other shows.

In the end it is worth the extra effort for the Reinertsons, who said they knew the Roundup would be a large affair. The duo have sold products at four other Roundups in the past few years.

Owner Gladys Rinertson helps a customer Thursday. Reinertson's Embroidery had many International Harvester-themed clothes, towels and other merchandise available at the Red Power Roundup event. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

“This is our best show so far this year, and it’s only our second day,” Gladys Reinertson said on Friday. “We’re out of inventory. I had to go to the store last night and build some more inventory.”

The Roundup has proven to be a handful for the couple, who also had the help of their daughter, Alison Olsen, for the weekend show.

“This is getting too big. Last year I did this show alone,” Lyle Reinerton said. “This year our daughter is here helping and we’re all busy.”

Next year the Red Power Roundup will be in Du Quoin, Ill., and Gladys is planning on shutting down her store to help Lyle at the event.

What makes their products so popular?

“We have a better quality of the product and quality of the stitching,” Gladys Reinertson said. “One guy told me this morning that we have the best service, he’s never been anyplace else where the service is this good.”

Beyond the service, the quality of the product comes down to each stitch. Lyle said the embroidery machines can create products at speeds as fast as 1,200 stitches per minute. They run their machines at 600 stitches per minute. The process takes more time, but it allows the couple to sell a higher quality product.

Rows of merchandise embroidered with International tractors and other logos were available at the Red Power Roundup event. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

For an embroidered item that is three inches in size it takes about 30 minutes for the project to go from start to finish. Gladys’s favorite item to produce, a jacket, takes about three hours on one of her 11 embroidery machines.

“We keep our prices down so people can afford to buy,” Lyle Reinertson said. “It’s more of selling quantity over selling at a higher price.”

The Reinertsons stay busy with their business all year round. When they aren’t filling custom orders in their store, they are traveling to more shows. They said they still travel almost every weekend and in two weeks they’ll be in central Illinois for another show.

Reinertsons Embroidery only travels to tractor shows. They don’t attend the Freeborn County Fair because they said it doesn’t provide them access to the customer base they’re looking for. They tried the fair once but lost money. They say the booths have become costly. Besides, Albert Lea area residents who visit fair can visit Reinertsons Embroidery in downtown Albert Lea any business day of the year.

The Albert Lea based business has been at its present location at 127 S. Broadway Ave. for the past five years. Prior to that spot, the company was situated at Northbridge Mall for 10 years.

What started out as a family operation has expanded to include two part-time employees at their retail store.

At the store, they do the largest portion of their business, which are custom orders. The farthest they’ve sent one of their packages was to England.

They are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 507-373-0751.