Less than a month before the iconic red, white and blue Suit Corner in Philadelphia’s Old City burned to the ground in April, Gary Ginsberg’s old Shirt Corner store collapsed, and his mother died.
After the fire, Ginsberg said he felt like a boxer who just got knocked out. He laid in bed, confused, not wanting to get up.
“It was very depressing,” said Ginsberg. “I was sitting there on my front lawn with my dog, I saw the kids go to school, the parents going to work, and I had nowhere to go.”
Now, two months after the fire at 3rd and Market Streets, Ginsberg is set to re-open a combination Suit and Shirt Corner on Friday, just a few blocks away – not quite on the corner of Market and 7th.
Many of Ginsberg’s employees urged him to re-open as soon as possible, and he said all of them are returning to work at the new location.
“I told him you better come on, let’s do this,” said Verrone Romeoletti, who’s worked at Suit Corner for eight years, and Shirt Corner for another 20 before that.
“We have to get up, we’ve done our crying, now we have to get moving,” Romeoletti said. “I’ve been on him every day since we started.”
The 60-year family tradition of the store helped motivate Ginsberg to start looking for a new location close to his established clientele.
Shirt corner was closed to make way for a mixed-use development, including a CVS. There was a partial collapse at the site while under demolition, but no one was seriously injured. That happened in March, then a month later, the Suit Corner store burned.
Before the new store is even open, customers such as Alfred Haywood III are already coming by as the new store gets stocked with its distinctive brightly-colored shirts and suits.
“We’ve got our store back,” said Haywood. “It’s just a wonderful thing to be able to come back here, talk to Gary and some of the other guys, because it’s kind of a friendly store where people know your name. It’s great.”
Ginsberg, for the most part, is trying to stay positive. He said the new location has longer streets, longer traffic lights, so maybe more people will notice the revived store while waiting for the light to run green.
“I’ve never changed before, it was always the same routine every day,” said Ginsberg. “A lot of people tell me things happen for a reason, hopefully this could be a better reason but let’s see what happens.”