[Photo of Gino in 2014 by Michael Paul]
Gino DiGirolamo, who ran a tailoring business in the neighborhood for 50-plus years, died this past Friday. He was 82. He suffered a heart attack several weeks ago, and never recovered.
Friends and customers had been leaving get-well wishes on cards on the gate at Royal Tailor Shop on 11th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue...
[Photo Friday by Vinny & O]
He was born Gioacchino di Girolamo in Palermo, Sicily. After active duty in the military, he worked for two years as a tailor in Palermo before deciding to move to the United States in the early 1960s.
He worked as a tailor on Avenue A near 12th Street (in space that is now part of Boris & Horton). He bought the shop for $1,000 in 1963 when the owner decided to return to Italy.
Gino moved to 14th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B in late 2006. A rent increase there almost caused him to retire. However, with the help of an East Village resident, he was able to find the 11th Street space where he had been since 2014.
Gino was known for keeping long — and often unusual — hours, working overnight, barely visible behind a mound of clothes, before calling it a day around 11 a.m.
[Photo from 2009]
Here's part of a post that Jeremiah Moss wrote about Gino in 2008:
He wears a measuring tape around his neck. He has two televisions sitting one on top of the other. His walls are covered with pictures of the Italian soccer team, boxer Rocky Marciano, and a poster showing popular lengths of sleeves and trouser legs.
A gray-haired woman sits with him. While customers are present, she is silent. But after the customer leaves the shop, she gets up and berates Gino, telling him what he’s doing wrong and asking why can’t he do things the way she says. The tailor just smiles.
You can read more on Gino in these features from years past at Jeremiah's Vanishing New York ... Town & Village ... and the Local EV.
And there is a series of videos with Gino from 2007 on YouTube... including this one...
Gino lived in Ozone Park, Queens with his wife Adriana, a schoolteacher, who died in October 2013. Their son Vito was a familiar presence in the shop.
A longtime customer launched a crowdfunding campaign "to raise funds to honor Gino with a donation in his name or potentially a plaque or marker in the neighborhood." Find details here.
Previously on EV Grieve:
After 50 years in business, Gino DiGirolamo is closing the Royal Tailor shop
Report: Rent hike forced Gino to retire and close his Royal Tailor shop
Gino's short-lived retirement
Mary Pupillo - 'A true relic of the East Village'