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Tailor's Decision to Close East Village Shop Hard to Take in

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An East Village tailor who has kept the lights on day and night for a half a century says he is being forced to close up shop as the neighborhood's rents continue to climb. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

Gino DiGirolamo operates out of a shop at 520 East 14th Street that seems barely bigger than a shoebox. For 50 years he's hemmed and sewn garments in the East Village. But his story is an all too familiar one say people around the neighborhood. DiGirolamo says his landlord is raising his rent, forcing him to close up shop at the end of next month.

"The man, he want a thousand dollars more. I pay the $3,000, he want $4,000," DiGirolamo said.

Gino's heavy accent is a relic of his homeland of Italy. Despite it, customers say it's easy to communicate with Gino because he's like an old friend. He doesn't write tickets, just remembers who dropped off what and when.

"This level of craftsmanship, this level of care, this level of pride is really disappearing," said James Murray, an East Village resident.

Gino is also known for staying open and in his store literally all night. Max Chanoch came in to drop off pants to be tailored at 11 p.m., they were ready by 7 a.m.

That kind of service though isn't the only reason residents are sad to see him go. Over the last few months many shops on 14th Street between avenues A and B have closed.

"They closed down on this block a pet store, a drug store, two dollar stores," Chanoch said.

"It's a genuine loss, because most times it's replaced by something that can pay a lot higher rent, often times a commercial institution," said Karla Murray, a customer of DiGirolamo's.

Gino says he works about 80 hours a week, and says he hasn't missed a single day of work in more than 50 years.

Gino's wife of five decades died late last year. She was a school teacher and now he says he'll follow her example of helping others in his retirement.

"I want to do the best I can to help people I see, at the church, something like that. Do something good, for my wife, for me, I feel good," DiGirolamo said.

Many say when DiGirolamo leaves it will be another piece of the old neighborhood no longer around.

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