Dateline: 5 June 2015
I'm not a snappy dresser. I've never owned a suit. For the past few decades, when dressing up was required, I wore a tweed sports coat that fit me particularly well. It may have been bought at Sears. I don't really remember.
But last year, around this time, with my mother-in-law nearing the end of her long life, I determined that I would buy myself a new suit, or sport coat, or blazer, to wear to her funeral.
Frankly, I didn't know the difference, if any, between the three choices of menswear. So I went to YouTube and got myself educated on the subject. I found out that what I wanted was a classic blue blazer. Then I went looking to buy.
I went to several large stores with men's clothing departments, looking for a classic blue blazer of good quality, and the only place that had a blazer like I was looking for was J.C. Penny. The blazer fit well enough, but the sleeves were too long. It was on sale for $75.
I came close to buying that blazer but decided against it. I wanted a truly good quality blazer and, though I knew nothing about truly good quality in blazers, I sensed that the $75 blazer was not it.
So I did a Google Search for "men's clothing store auburn NY." Auburn is a small city that is half an hour from my home. It is where I used to work when I was a wage slave in the NY prison system. The search brought up Tesoro's. It was a weekend. Tesoro's was closed. I determined to get there on Monday. I wanted to have the blazer by the following weekend.
Tesoro's is on the west side of the city. It is a nondescript store in a row of buildings on the main street, with a bar next to it. I went in and knew right away that I was in a high-quality men's clothing store. It is the kind of store I have never been in before.
There were no customers. I stood there looking around for a moment and a very well dressed (coat and tie) older man with a cloth tape measure around his neck came out from the back of the store. We exchanged hellos and I told him I was looking for a classic blue blazer.
He measured my chest circumference with his tape, and I followed him to a rack of blue blazers. He selected one, held it up from behind for me to put my arms in, and I put it on. He looked at it for a moment and told me it was a perfect fit.
It felt good. It looked good in the mirror. But I thought the arms were too long. "Do you think the arms might be too long?," I asked.
Yes, of course, the arms were a bit too long. He knew that, and told me he would shorten them. That was no problem.
I asked about the quality and Mr. Tesoro proceeded to give me an education about quality in blue blazers. Clearly, the man knew what he was talking about, and he was passionate about the subject.
Mr. Tesoro told me that the blazer would last a lifetime. A picture of me in my casket someday, wearing the blazer, flashed into my mind. I had found exactly what I wanted.
I asked how much the blazer was. It was $350, before tax. Four days later, I stopped by to get my new blazer. I couldn't be more pleased.
But this post isn't really about my extravagance in buying a piece of clothing.....
When I picked up the blazer, I had a chance to have a conversation with Mr. Tesoro. I know full well that every older adult has an interesting life story, and Mr. Tesoro is no exception.
It so happens that Mr. Tesoro was born in Italy in 1939. He was apprenticed to a tailor at nine years of age. In 1954 he immigrated to America. In 1965 he started a tailoring business in the basement of his home. He worked the night shift at a nearby factory while saving money to one day open a storefront tailor shop. In 1971 he opened Tesoro's Men's Shop in Auburn.
Mr. Tesoro's story is one of pursuing and mastering a craft, having an entrepreneurial dream, and working hard to achieve that dream. It's a story of delayed gratification. It is a great story that is well worth reading, and you can Read It Here.
Also, be sure to check out ThisYouTube video for Tesoro's Men's Shop. In the end of the short clip, Mr. Tesoro says, "Come to Tesoro's. I'll make sure you look your best." He's not kidding.
Mr. Tesoro is 76 years old. When I asked him if he had plans to retire, he told me he loves what he does and has no plans to retire. I also found out that Mr. Tesoro is an avid gardener (another positive, in my opinion). And the day I picked up my blazer he told me that he was looking forward to having his young grandson come for a visit. I told him about how the best memories of my young life are the summers I spent with my grandparents.
To my male readership.... if you are ever in need of a high-quality, tailored suit or coat, and you are ever in Central NY, make it a point to find Tesoro's Men's Shop in Auburn. Mr. Tesoro can fit you and, if necessary, mail the tailor-altered product to you. He says he does this a lot with people who vacation in the Finger Lakes.
And now, as proof positive that I have never been a snappy dresser (until I met Mr. Tesoro), I offer the following picture...
That's me and my girlfriend, Marlene, at our senior class prom dinner, way back in the spring of 1976. I did not know this picture existed until last year when one of our classmates posted it on Facebook (thanks Roger).
No, we had not been drinking (neither of us drank alcohol in high school). We were just young and having a good time.
Four years later, Marlene and I were married. And if you missed the most recent picture of us (me in my new blazer), you can see it HERE.