Carmine Fazio made a quiet exit from Forest Park when he closed the doors to Fazio Tailor Shop for the last time on Wednesday, May 24.
Customers trickled in and out of the store to say their goodbyes and pick up their last batch of clothing from the shop. One longtime customer brought over a batch of homemade chocolate cake and spent the afternoon talking to Fazio about old times.
Fazio’s humble exit into retirement was typical of the man who has operated the small tailor shop on the southwest corner of Madison Street and Desplaines Avenue for the last 37 years.
“I know many people are going to miss me. I will miss it too, but at some point you’ve got to stop. No matter when I stop I’ll miss it, no matter if it’s now or in two to three years,” he said.
The closing of the tailor shop marks the end of an era for the corner, which lost another landmark business in February with the retirement of Michael Lee, who had operated the Mobil station across the street from Fazio since 1972.
Some of his customers, Fazio said, have been bringing their clothes to his shop for over two decades. Many who used to stop by with their parents as young children now bring their own families.
“Yesterday, a woman came in with a skirt who has been my customer for 25 years,” Fazio recalled on Wednesday.
Fazio extended his thanks to his customers with a simple note posted on his front door in the days leading up to the closing.
“I want to express my sincere appreciation for the support that has endured for 37 years,” it read in part. “I could not have brought my dream to reality without your support and loyalty.”
While many of his customers have remained the same, Fazio acknowledges that the area has changed over the course of his 37 years in business. For one thing, he’s seen his rent go from $90 to $1,700.
“It used to be much quieter,” he remembers.
Still, the similarities stand out much more in his mind.
“It’s always been a good town with good people. All these years I enjoy meeting people, and talking with people, this was my enjoyment…When I close over here I won’t have so many people (to talk to) like now,” he said.
A native of Calabria, Italy, Fazio, 72, has been working as a tailor since the age of 13. He came to America in 1964, and lived in Ohio for two years before moving to Chicago. He opened his store two years after that, in December, 1968.
He currently lives in Plainfield with his wife, Millie, who he married in 1960. The couple has two children, Laurie, who works for United Airlines and lives in Lockport, and Victor, a resident of Plainfield, who manages an auto dealership and has four kids of his own.
The couple will celebrate Fazio’s retirement by traveling home to Italy in September, after which Fazio hopes he’ll have more time to spend with his grandkids and work on his golf game.
“I’ll find something to do to keep busy,” he assured customers on Wednesday.