Thread of excellence runs through century-old tailor shop

John DeMarinis poses next to materials in a warehouse.

In 1914, a young Italian immigrant named Arthur DeMarinis purchased a building from the local railroad company in St. Albans, Vermont, and started a custom tailoring business, The Boston Tailoring Co. 

More than a century later, the modest shop on Federal Street, now known as Boston Tailoring & Cleaning, is still in business — still owned by the same family and operating at its original location. In recognition, the company was named in May as the 2023 Vermont Family-Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“The business was started by my great-grandfather Arthur DeMarinis, then was taken over by my grandfather Edward, and then by my father and grandmother, John DeMarinis and Bernadette DeMarinis,” said Jennifer DeMarinis-Merritt, who has worked in the family business much of her life. “Now it is run by my father and mother, John and Sandy DeMarinis.” 

When 14-year-old Arthur immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy, he was already a master tailor. He eventually settled in St. Albans and purchased the union meeting house, from which he would launch Boston Tailoring. 

DeMarinis specialized in tailoring custom suits and other clothing for men and women. The family still has many of the shop’s original patterns used to cut suits in the 1920s and 1930s. It was around this time dry cleaning was introduced. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20% of small-business startups do not survive more than a year. Those business that manage to succeed, if they are fortunate, begin to develop a loyal clientelle or customer base.

And those that continue in business decade and after decade, like Boston Tailoring & Cleaners, eventually become a part of a town’s fabric.

“It’s a pretty rare thing these day to see a small businesses stick around this long and be owned and operated by the same family the entire time,” said DeMarinis-Merritt. “For me, it’s more than a business; its where I grew up, it’s my roots and it has taught me about the value of what hard work and what dedication can create. I love the history of our business and family.”

The DeMarinis family never had an inclination to branch out and expand the business at the height of Boston Tailoring & Cleaners’ popularity. They were always content being a single shop. 

“Our philosophy was to stay a smaller mom-and-pop-style family business,” DeMarinis-Merritt said. “This has allowed us to be a face of our community and to know our customers and their wants and needs. We believe in quality over quantity.

“All of us at Boston Tailoring want to thank the SBA and express our gratitude for choosing us for this award,” she added. “We truly appreciate it. For years, my family built this business to what it is today. And though it has seen changes throughout the years, we have managed to stand the test of time and to be recognized with this award. It's an honor.”

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.