Three generations of Harrison women have been stepping into a tiny corner of Italy that has been in operating in our community for more than 47 years.
, an alteration store at 424 4th Street, Mamaroneck, is a place where business is conducted in a gentle unhurried way. Employees enjoy a daily breakfast around the sewing table. Seamstresses share an Italian-style lunch made up of a main course, fruit and espresso, and catch-up with each client that walks through their door. Every dress and every adjustment has a story, and they listen to every one.
“We have brides in for alterations to their wedding gowns, young girls doing their first communion and women needing clothes for the funeral of their husbands of many years—we see it all,” says Dee Dee Gianunzio, the first member of this close-knit team to greet you in their little storefront studio. “I always ask about the occasions the clothes are for and we often have tears—both happy and sad—as our clients tell us their stories.”
It is a business run by women, for women, and the atmosphere mirrors that. In the changing room there are pictures of Lidia’s daughters in the wedding gowns she made for them and Gianunzio carries photos of many clients in their dresses on her personal phone.
You have the feeling that you are in a small village a hundred years ago. That feeling is extended when you find that the building Lidia’s has been operating from for 30 years, after it outgrew the Harrison home sewing room Rogolino operated from for the first 17 years, is owned by Rogolino's sister and brother-in law. In fact, Rogolino's sister is an interior designer and works from an adjoining storefront. Rogolino’s brother-in-law takes care of any repairs to the stores.
Like a small village, clients and workers know each other and are there to share good times and bad.
“We take care of and try to help everybody who comes in and get to know them,” explains Gianunzio. “A friendly welcome and a smile don’t cost anything.”
It’s an approach that works. In addition to new clients from all over Westchester and Connecticut, Rogolinio has many of the same clients she has had for 30 years, some of whom stop by to join in the daily lunch at times or call to discuss personal problems.
The team is equally close. The seamstresses have been with Rogolino for over seventeen years and Gianunzio has handled the calls and clients and books for her for 25 years.
“We get along so nice,” Lidia says, looking around at the women, fondly. “We are there for each other in business and personally-like extended family.”
That has meant a lot to Lidia over recent years, as her husband has gone blind and one of her daughters battled cancer. But it's not just the environment that brings Rogolino joy, it is also her craft. Rogolino began sewing when she was just 12-years-old in Italy and was apprenticed as a seamstress.
“I’ve always loved sewing,” she says, warmly. “It’s not just my business, its my relaxation and escape.”
So the woman continue to chat over their sewing table, breaking for their Italian lunch and then returning to stitch the clothes that have become part of the fabric of the lives of Harrison women and their children and grandchildren and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come.