HUNTINGTON -- Though downtown Huntington continues on the road to urban renewal, some small businesses still offer a taste of the past.
Michael A. Saliba, the owner of George's Tailoring Shop, has kept the family business running since 1973.
"I can't say where the store will be in 10 years. If business is good, we'll stay here; we've made it this long," Saliba said.
George's Tailoring Shop is one of the few shops left in the area that personalizes every suit to the figure of the buyer. Saliba carries an array of pants and suit coats and offers alterations on both. He also offers alterations on clothing for men and woman and tuxedo rentals for proms and weddings.
Over the years that George's Tailoring Shop has graced the streets of Huntington, the owners have worked hard to create a customer base that is always served with the utmost respect. Saliba explained that his customers are very loyal to the shop and that many have been bringing their clothing in since the shop opened. He feels that there is still a need for tailoring, even in a modern world.
"I treat the customers right, I always give them a good job," said Saliba.
Though Saliba has seen a dramatic transformation in downtown Huntington, the one thing that has not changed is his job. In the small tidy shop, crisply ironed pants and coats hang in their plastic wrapping along the walls. In the back, two sewing machines sit with a line of clothing waiting to be altered. Saliba works alone and personally takes orders from customers. He sees no reason to change the atmosphere of the shop when it has succeeded for so long.
Dressed to the nines in slacks, shirt and tie, Saliba explains that dressing up every day has always been his habit. Not only does it create good rapport with his customers, but also serves as a model for certain alterations that can be made to a suit.
"I dress up because customers look at you as a model and because it makes you feel better to wear nice clothing," said Saliba.
Through the years many shops have come and gone in downtown Huntington and Saliba remembers a time when Huntington's economy was booming. What was once a bustling downtown has now become what Saliba jokingly likens to an old western town, with little more then a restaurant and saloon. He regrets that many shop owners close and leave after their first lease is up in two or three months. He feels that his success is a product of his trade, and that his ability to use his hands makes him an asset. People will always need their clothing fixed.
"Opening a business is like playing poker, what must you do to win? You have to take a risk," said Saliba.
Raised in a family of tailors, Saliba and his three brothers were taught the trade by their father. His father was the one who taught him to sew. Saliba explains that sewing is one of his favorite parts of owning the family business because it takes patience.
Originally from Damascus, Syria, Saliba remembers coming to America when he was around 27 years old. West Virginia was the home of six of his uncles and so he migrated to his family members. Saliba's brother, George, was the original owner of George's Tailoring Shop. Saliba came to work with his brother and now runs the shop by himself.
You can visit George's Tailoring Shop at 945 4th Avenue, or call them at 304-523-7081.