MERIDEN — Joseph Zaccariello has outfitted 30,000 prom students and more than 20,000 grooms in his 30 years at the Westfield Meriden mall.
Zaccariello is now ready to hang up his tape measure and close Pietro’s Tuxedo to embark on something different. But first, an inventory sale and then a sabbatical.
”I have no regrets,” Zaccariello said. “I’m ready to move on to the next phase, maybe work for someone else.”
Running the shop was fun for many years. He will miss the customers who came through the doors for special events or a nice suit. Employees were easy to hire, but good ones were harder to keep.
Zaccariello won’t miss the “prom mothers” or “bridezillas” who interrupted his peace.
”No more headaches,” he said. “I’ve paid my dues.”
The tuxedo-rental business changed when schools allowed students to attend without having a date, he said. This allowed prom-goers to veer away from the traditional tuxedo and wear non-traditional clothing. Weddings have also moved away from formal wear.
Tuxedos can even be rented online.
Pietro’s Menswear has adapted over the years by offering more suits, sports jackets, flashier tuxedos, and shoes. He can guess a man’s size just by looking at him.
The business began with his father Pietro Zaccariello, a Wallingford tailor who founded Zaccariello’s Tailor & Formal Wear in 1966. He ran the store with his family for almost 40 years until 2004.
In that time, the Zaccariello family opened stores in Cromwell, Old Saybrook, Glastonbury, Branford, in addition to their stores in Meriden and Wallingford.
“This is the last Pietro’s,” he said. “The business is still good. I can still work but I’m tired. I would love to sell it. People don’t want to put the time in.”
Zaccariello’s family needs have also changed. His children are grown, his mother died earlier this year and he’s taking care of his father.
John Torres is a friend who styled hair at Regis Salon in the mall for 10 years before it closed in February. Torres visits the men’s shop often to bring pasta fagioli, discuss life and complain about the mall.
“You can’t get a hair cut anywhere in the mall,” Zaccariello said. “You need a good restaurant.”
“We knew it was coming, we didn’t know when,” Torres said about the salon closing.
Pietro’s Menswear was a shopping destination and didn’t rely on mall traffic.
The shop’s inventory of dress shirts, pants, shoes and bow ties in every color spans the rear of the store. He will have a 20 to 80 percent off liquidation sale. Whatever doesn’t sell, he’s donating to the Goodwill.
Torres puts down his pasta fagioli and smiles.
“I’m going to get a suit out of this,” he said.