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In South Philadelphia sits a tiny tailor shop that has had a big impact on the city of Philadelphia. From some of the finest dressed lawyers in court to the Philadelphia Eagles on the field, self-called “custom maker” Pasquale (Pat) Scioli’s needle and thread have touched them all.
Scioli, along with his wife Anna came to America from their native Italy more than 45 years ago and during that time Scioli has given the “custom fit” to clothing for thousands of people big and small.
With affordable prices (new suits start as little as $250) and high-quality work, Scioli, 75, caters to just about everyone -- in the hour or so NBC10.com was in the cramped store, Scioli measured a suit for a high-powered lawyer, a couple of regular people and even stitched the name onto one of the newest Philadelphia Eagles’ jerseys.
NBC10.com recently headed to Scioli’s tailor shop to meet the man with the catchphrase “take it eeze” who stays young at heart and physically strong by working hard at what he loves.
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When did you begin tailoring?
“In Italy, in Abruzzi. I was 13 or 14 years old. After I go to school, regular school I go home, I got to work and I go learn tailoring. It’s my life. At 19 or 20 years old I began to work for myself.”
How did you wind up in Philly?
“In 1967 America called on the good tailors in Italy. My cousin over here said, ‘Pasquale, you want to come to this county you can come.’ I (sign a contract) to go and after a few months this one guy comes and says ‘are you Pasquale Scioli’ I said yes. After one month a contract came in the mail.
“This country is the best country in the world, God bless America. If you get the opportunity you get over here you never go... They give you the opportunity.”
What makes you stand apart?
“I can fix anything. I have no problem. One guy comes here, brings one suit, a $99 suit -- sale price, I know. I say, ‘alright I’ll fix you, don’t worry about it.’ I fix it all on feel, no chalk, just my needle. I’m a custom maker I know the feel of the piece. I know it. When he comes back. He says, ‘Pat this is a thousand dollar suit.’ I ask, ‘why?’ He says, ‘look and feel it, you know how much I pay? $99. This now, the one you fix costs a $1,000.’
“That’s why I call it ‘custom made.’”
What’s it like working for the Eagles?
“I work 14 years for Andy Reid (and the Eagles). I do uniform jobs, I fix, I tape, I cut the sleeves. The Eagles for me I love it… so many years together. When I go over there I hear ‘Take it Eeze.’ I now work for Mr. (Chip) Kelly -- the new coach.”
What are your favorite tools?
“The ones we use – the machine, scissors, the thimble the needle. Keep it simple, we’ve got a machine and we’ve got all the tools we need. We got all the things we need, the tools.”
What’s the smallest suit you ever did?
“I made one suit for a baby. The mother comes in and says, ‘I’ll give you anything you want just please make one small for my baby.’ It was for a 2-year-old, a 2-year-old baby -- it’s incredible.”
Who’s your favorite client?
“I don’t have one. When they come in they hug me, they kiss me. Everybody I love. They are all my best friends. When people come in here I say, “Take it eeze.” You see everyone knows us.”
How do you stay young?
“My memory is clear, I work every day from 9 in the morning to 6, 6:30 at night -- me and my wife together. I never say, ‘Anna, I feel tired tonight.’ I also pray every day.”
Scioli points to a wall full of Christian iconography, business cards of his clients and Philadelphia sports figures.
“Me. This I do all my life.”
So what’s the secret food to keeping energized?
“We eat chicken, veal, vegetables, salad.” chimes in Anna Scioli.
“My wife she cooks every night,” Pasquale Scioli adds. “We don’t eat cake.”
Will you ever call it quits and retire?
“I won’t retire, I work. I won’t stay home, what am I going to do? My energy, I feel fine so I’m going to work… Someday I will be 90 years old and I feel that if my memory is good I’m going to work.
“Listen to me, this I tell everybody, when you retire a lot of people die. What are you going to do at home? 65 years old, you’re young!
“The work, it’s life to me it makes me young. The more I work the more it keeps me young… you feel like a millionaire."
Pat and Anna Scioli Tailoring is located at 1744 E Passyunk Ave. in South Philadelphia.