Featured Partner: The Lettering Machine

8/1/2017 - Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Staff

Downtown, Featured Partner, Shopping
The Lettering Machine in Downtown Kenosha
The Lettering Machine in Downtown Kenosha
The Lettering Machine in Downtown Kenosha
The Lettering Machine in Downtown Kenosha

The building at 725 50th Street in Downtown Kenosha was built in 1902 and over the years it’s housed a meat shop, a heating/cooling business, a flower shop, a residence, and an embroidery shop. An embroidery shop has been there for more than three decades. The business was purchased in 2002 by Dave and Tina Chatmon. To this day, The Lettering Machine is their family business. Their three daughters have worked there at one time or another, along with other relatives, their daughters’ friends, and neighbors. For the past six years, their daughter Carolyn Serpe has helped run the shop full time.

Dave wanted a family business where the kids could work as they were growing up, Tina explains. With sports schedules, it can be hard to find a job. That’s not a problem when your parents own the shop! The business was something they could all do together. Dave knew the previous owners and had been a customer of the shop’s. The family came into it without embroidery experience, but they learned and grew the business as time went on.

What does the shop entail? Embroidery orders large or small or any size in-between, as well as heat printing, direct to garment, and vinyl printing orders. All the work is done in-house. They can print on any material, except silk, satin, and leather. They put their elaborate machines to work on shirts, hats, bags, coats, shorts, wine totes, blankets, pillows, pillow cases, and more. Carolyn says, “We try to be versatile so it allows people to be creative.” If you see an idea somewhere - as long as it’s not trademarked - bring it in.

The shop offers Kenosha and Wisconsin apparel for infants, toddlers, youths, and adults. While there are ready-made items available, you can also pick a design, shirt, size, and color to have a customized product made for you. “There’s really no end to the possibilities of what we can do,” Carolyn says. The turn-around time on the Kenosha and Wisconsin designs is usually one business day.

There’s also an entire bridal section of merchandise. Carolyn credits Kenosha’s Hampton Inn & Suites with that. The shop was invited to the hotel’s first bridal show. It was also the first bridal show that The Lettering Machine exhibited at. While gathering ideas for the show, they realized they had done more bridal jobs than they realized. From there, the collection has grown. There are pajama sets, pillows, toiletry bags and totes, shirts, and much more. There are items of interest for brides, mother-of-the-bride, those standing up for the bride and groom, and even bachelorette parties. They often work with the wedding parties of the nearby venue Circa on Seventh.

The Lettering Machine creates custom clothing for corporate, bridal/baby showers, sports teams, schools, and more. The shop offers a few shirt designs on the popular Etsy website as well, and Carolyn hopes to grow this online point of sale.

Giving back to the community is important to the Chatmon family. Among their good deeds is partnering with the Kenosha Fire Department to produce a line of red fire department shirts at a discounted price. The style available for the public is slightly different than those for the firefighters. Fire department employees can wear these shirts on Fridays. The shirts are for sale at The Lettering Machine and Fire Station 5. Proceeds go to the Southern Wisconsin All Airborne Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association Inc. (not affiliated with any national or state wounded warrior organizations).

Whether looking for a Kenosha souvenir, a maid-of-honor gift, a family reunion shirt, a personalized gift bag, a unique baby onesie, or some other creative, embroidered item, call or stop by The Lettering Machine. There’s no idea or order too big or too small for them! Carolyn points out the advantages of visiting their shop rather than using an online company: you receive a personal experience, you can see what the job looks like before it’s printed, and you can choose the colors in person. If the CVB may add: you also get to see the smiling faces and friendly personalities of this close-knit, generous-hearted Kenosha family and their employees.

See the KACVB-produced video clip here.

(262) 652-4177,

August 2017


Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Staff

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