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What's the point of Sacramento's giant sewing needle? | Bartell's Backroads

Better than a new sign: the funny story of Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center's gigantic landmark.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If you drive along Interstate 80 near the El Camino Avenue exit in Sacramento, it’s pretty hard to miss the giant sewing needle and thread piercing the sky. The internet calls it “the world’s longest or largest sewing needle,” but if you ask Jim Meissner, owner of Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center, the needle is just a long-standing icon next to his family’s store.

“I honestly don’t know how tall it is. We may have known but I forgot,” said Meissner.

The giant needle has a funny story, but to tell it we must go back in time. 

“My father moved us here from Los Angeles in 1958," said Meissner, who comes from a long line of sewing machine repair and salesmen. “I am third generation.”

When Meissner Sewing first started in Sacramento, Jim’s dad, Bill Meissner, sold industrial sewing machines and parts out of their home. Eventually, as the business grew and he got older, Jim took over the family business and expanded. 

“We moved to this location in 1982. It’s a 20,000-square-foot building,” said Meissner.

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The building had plenty of space but there was one problem. The sign from the previous business was on top of a very tall metal sign pole. 

“It said ADART with lightbulbs all around it and they would blink,” said Meissner. 

The city of Sacramento told the Meissners they had to replace the pole if he wanted a new sign. That was going to be expensive, but luckily one of Jim’s friends had an idea. 

“A half glass of wine later he said, 'Too bad you can’t make it into a giant sewing needle.' I said, 'That’s a great idea,'” said Meissner.

Jim Meissner had to do a lot of petitioning with the city but eventually, he got approval, and down came the old sign, and up went the needlepoint and thread. 

“We got the rope from the Oakland shipping port,” said Meissner.

Since Meissner. didn’t know how tall the needle was, the Bartell’s Backroads team used our drone's altimeter to measure it. Our estimated height is 82 feet. After a little research, we could not find any other sewing needles taller than Meissner's. 

Whether it is the tallest in the world or not, the Meissner Sewing needle still has a lot of meaning to Jim Meissner. 

“I think it represents our longevity. We’ve been in Sacramento since 1958, we’ve been in this location since 1982 and there are really no other sewing machine companies that have had that kind of longevity here,” said Meissner.   

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