Last Friday, Scott Shapiro wore a necktie — an ivory Italo Ferretti with blue dots — for the first time in more than two months.
“I almost forgot how to tie it,” he said. “It took me several times to get it right.”
This is noteworthy because Shapiro owns Syd Jerome, the upscale Loop menswear institution. Like many Chicagoans, Shapiro is eager to get back to his old life, which for him means standing at the front of the store, impeccably dressed, greeting customers, helping them navigate Syd Jerome’s fifth and fanciest location, on Clark Street just north of Madison.
That slow climb back began Friday. That’s what the sign said: “Re-Opening May 29.” The clerks were nattily attired, alert and ready. Carlos Nava went over the windows one last time, wiping every smudge. It seemed a fresh start and not a mere lull between Act One, the medical crisis and economic disaster of COVID-19, and Act Two: all that, plus widespread, ongoing violence following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Syd Jerome began in 1958 when Scott’s father, Sidney Shapiro, who by age 11 was steering customers into discount suit joints on Maxwell Street, opened a store of his own, less than a block away.
Now, during the pandemic, through April and May, Shapiro came into the shuttered store every day. Keeping up with the paperwork of being closed was itself a full time job.
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