Fickle fashion is the ultimate reason behind Shelley McFarland’s decision to close the iconic McFarlands of Marco men’s clothing store after nearly 25 years in business.
“Men are just not dressing up any more. Everything’s too casual. They don’t wear coats or slacks half the time,” said McFarland.
Catering to “gentlemen with the means to buy quality clothing” was the credo of the store’s founder, the late Chuck McFarland. Daughter Shelley continued that commitment after his death in 2001.
And, that evocation of a bygone era reflected it, from the way the merchandise was presented (reminiscent of the 1950s) to the attentive — but not pushy — sales staff.
It was one of two “pilot” stores devised by Chuck McFarland. The other was on Bald Eagle Drive near Old Marco, but the family eventually thought the Shops of Marco location was a better bet.
Shelly McFarland was on board from the start as a 20-something.
She said the store never really targeted young men and teenagers, and even though she knew “the writing was on the wall” at the beginning of this year, she steadfastly resisted turning the business into what she called a T-shirt shop.
Other factors contributing to the closing, McFarland said were the lamentable economy of late, coupled with a dismal 2008/9 season that she said barely lasted three months.
“I’m going to miss everybody,” said McFarland, who plans to job-seek in Tampa in the near future, likely using her retail and management skills attained during her McFarland’s tenure.
Her choice of city is because she has close friends there.
“You know,” McFarland said, “it hasn’t been easy. I cried a river. I didn’t want to do this. People came in and said dad wouldn’t have done this, but I can tell you he would have closed the store last year. I held on too long.”
She said her valued employees included Frank Cutolo, an ex-Navy man; Hugh Byrnes, a retired actor; Kathy Tanacs, a tailor from Hungary; Walter Osmond a one-time principal; and Anna Flora, a 82-year-old matriarch who fulfilled any function required of her.
“They’re all on social security, except for Kathy,” McFarland said. “She said she’ll look for work on Marco or in Naples.”
Besides her staff, McFarland paid special tribute to her supportive mother Adele, 80, and her faithful golden retriever Abby, a fixture at the store for almost the past decade.