Personal and personalizing
By Deb Silverthorn
Allan and Dorothea Meltzer have been stitching together memories as husband and wife for 54 years and creating memorable gifts for 22 as the owners of Hometown Threads in Plano. Custom embroidery is their niche.
“We love to work, and we love working together; we really can’t imagine it any other way,” said Dorothea. “We love our clients — really some are like family — and we love what we do. Creating special gifts, and items we know people hold on to and many which get passed down — it’s really very special.”
Allan and Dorothea met in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as each of their families were in the hospitality business. His family owned The Breakers Hotel, a kosher establishment on the boardwalk with 500 rooms; hers owned The Cambridge, The Claridge and The Oxford hotels, all on the beach.
“I grew up working in the hotel and seeing families who would come back year after year,” said Allan. “We had a rabbi and shul on the premises, and I remember High Holy Day services held at The Breakers and Passover when families would come and stay for the whole week.”
Allan is the son of Irving and Rose and the brother of Martin and Charlotte, all of blessed memory. A first-generation American, he was born in Lakewood, New Jersey. His parents were immigrants from Poland and Russia. He graduated from Michigan State University, where he studied hotel management before returning to work with his parents.
Dorothea is the daughter of Josiah Bunting and Dorothy Donnelly, and sister of Josiah, Peter and Mary. While growing up in her family’s hotels, Dorothea also worked at The Breakers and that’s when she and Allan met.
She attended the University of Kansas for two years before the couple married and began their family, which now extends through their children and grandchildren Melissa (Paul, of blessed memory) Warehall, who lives in Beijing, China; Cary (Theresa) Meltzer of Burbank, California, and their children Max and Jordan; David (Kim) Meltzer of Frisco and their children Miles, Mason and Lauren; Carolyn (Scott) Simons of Plano and their children Isabella and Hudson; and Simcha (Jaime) Meltzer, who live in Philadelphia, and their daughter Sydney.
“We are so very proud of our children and grandchildren; they really are incredible,” said Dorothea. “We gave them all we had and they’ve become very educated and professional, they have lovely families and we just love spending time with them whenever we can.”
After gambling overtook the boardwalk, The Breakers Hotel — which Allan had carried on once his parents retired — was sold to a casino. He began working as a national tour organizer, arranging tourists and business groups to come to Atlantic City for gaming. His relationships built through the decades were then nationwide and he was trusted and engaged by many. The couple later developed a steak and seafood restaurant, which they sold in 1996 when Allan decided to retire… for a moment.
The couple traveled the country extensively, most of the time by car, something they’d enjoyed doing throughout their marriage. To date, they’ve driven across country at least eight times, touching every state in the U.S. besides Alaska and Hawaii.
After six years of retirement, the couple wanted to get back to business. Allan had seen embroidery shops and the idea appealed to him. While driving to visit their son David and his family, who live in Frisco, the couple decided to make a big move and in 2002 Plano became home. Thirteen years later, Carolyn and her family moved to Plano.
The couple opened their first shop at the Walmart at Park and Preston in Plano, and three years later, when the store moved west to the Dallas North Tollway, they moved along.
“We’ve grown through the years and our inventory keeps growing,” said Dorothea. “We have many items available for our clients to choose from but most of our business is embroidering items people bring in.”
Hometown Threads’ team embroiders in English and Hebrew, and in Greek lettering for sorority and fraternity names. They also have many Asian characters and pictograms.
“People have brought in their own artwork — logos, monograms, all kinds of designs that we recreate,” she said. “We also have books and books of designs to choose from.”
The Meltzers embroider — with more than 70 colors of thread and a library of 40 fonts — on chuppah toppers, bags and blankets, kippot and handkerchiefs, tallises, tallis bags, tablecloths and more. In-store, they sell many items including shirts, hats, pillows, tote bags, stuffed animals and more.
When they aren’t making impressions on material, the Meltzers have made deep impressions on the community. He is a member of Master Networks North Dallas, Rotary International and Shriners International, affiliated with both in his home state of New Jersey. Dorothea has served on the boards of AWARE Alzheimer’s support, the Dallas Symphony League and the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Through the years, with their children, they have been connected to congregations Adat Chaverim and Anshai Torah.
In their second chapter, the couple doesn’t seem to sit still for more than a minute. They are hands-on in every aspect of their business, and they treasure the time they have with their children and grandchildren locally and their visits with those out of town whenever possible.
For the Meltzers, family is a thread that runs through and through.