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The Meissner Sewing & Vacuum Center name and its iconic needle in the sky have been part of the city’s history for longer than most Sacramento residents can remember. It’s probably not a stretch to say that the company has sold, or at least serviced, most of the sewing machines found in Sacramento homes. That’s why people are often surprised to learn that the third-generation company didn’t begin life under its giant needle—or the Sacramento sky.

Ernest Meissner's first Sacramento location on P Street

William Meissner's first Sacramento location on P Street


In 1930, Ernest Robert Meissner founded his industrial sewing machine business in the Los Angeles area. At the time, California’s garment industry was booming, with more than 900 manufacturers and 28,000 workers. Thanks in part to the movie industry, California fashion has always found plenty of buyers and its garment industry flourished until the lure of cheap foreign labor drew many manufacturers overseas.

While Meissner Sewing & Vacuum Center is known for its sales, education, and service to countless sewing enthusiasts, the company’s history and continued work in industrial sewing plays a big role in its success. Decades of experience keeping industrial machines in perfect order for business owners whose livelihoods depend on nonstop performance is why the company insists on representing only top-quality brands. It’s also why Meissner’s service technicians are so exceptionally good.

Bill and Myrtle Meissner at P Street

Bill and Myrtle Meissner at P Street


Keeping the garment industry humming was the company’s main focus when Ernest’s son William (Bill) came into the business. Bill moved the business to Sacramento in 1958, where the family lived upstairs from its Victorian storefront between 20th and P Streets. The industrial side of the business continued to prosper as Bill and Myrtle Meissner expanded into the home-sewing business, gaining a loyal base of customers throughout the Sacramento area.

The company extended its family tradition to the third generation when Bill and Myrtle’s son Jim took an interest at an early age. By the time Jim was 10 years old, he could be found in the downstairs shop after school, building industrial stands and learning to repair machines. Jim grew into his career as a service technician, which is another reason the company places a strong emphasis on service and repair excellence.

P Street mascot and family pet, Cooper, with a young Jim Meissner

P Street mascot and family pet, Cooper, with a young Jim Meissner

1982 – Present

When Bill Meissner retired in 1982, Jim took over the family business, moved the company to its current headquarters at Business 80 and El Camino Avenue, and erected the giant needle and thread. Today the company’s needle in the sky serves as a Sacramento landmark and a testament to the Meissner family’s more than 85 years in the sewing business.