The tailor shop is open Monday through Friday but only during the business hours of 8am to 5pm. Before I became acquainted with Joseph and his business, I used to walk by and often wonder why this shop was closing so early, but now I know why. Being in the heart of the downtown financial district, the business hours ensure significant foot traffic and the shop’s clients are in near proximity during working hours as well (most of them drive back to their homes in the suburbs after 5pm). So a quick fifteen-minute break down to the tailor shop to drop off trousers and pick up a freshly tailored blazer is most convenient for the banker, lawyer, judge, or business owner.
Our day at the shop typically starts with the familiar small talk about the long weekend, my mentor’s stories about his quick trips to Las Vegas or some other place, and the usual sewing ties for me. Then to work we go: hemming pants, lengthening sleeves, selling suits, measuring, and cutting. Client after client comes in, inquires about certain alterations, and then the negotiation process starts. And it is amazing to watch this go down, particularly in a society like ours where negotiating the prices with stores is almost unheard of anymore. But there is something so manly and so “vintage” about these moments! Negotiations start typically high and ends somewhere in the middle leaving both the shop and the client fully satisfied with the transaction. And sure, sometimes there can be no middle ground found. Client may have a budget that is too small and doesn’t allow for proper alterations and my mentor refuses to cut corners and provide an imperfect work product. Clients are also explained how the alterations work in order for the client to leave the shop with a full understanding that at this shop you get what you pay for.
My mentor has a system. How he sews, how he irons, and how he cuts. While the iron is pressing a newly tailor sleeve, he is already planning his next move. Taking off buttons from another blazer to prep the sleeves for cutting, he turns and flips the sleeve, presses it and back to the next blazers prepping. He has it down and his system is what makes him efficient and successful. I’m still slow but at least I have finally figured out where to stand and stay out his way, that’s something right?