The Tirocchis’ business continued strong into the early 1930s. Her most loyal clients continued to visit 514 Broadway even after the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the descent upon the land of the Great Depression. However, by 1933, the number of clients began to decline steadily, along with the amount of money they were willing to spend. From 1931 to the Spring of 1933, the shop listed 60 clients in the customer ledger; the 1933/34 ledger listed 44; and the 1934/35 ledger listed 38. The decline continued until 1938, when only 28 customers remained.

The business during the 1930s was still a mix of upscale ready-to-wear garments and accessories and the typical dressmaking services of alterations and repairs. Another service that the Tirocchi shop offered its clients was assistance in the upkeep of their wardrobes. Women would bring in those garments that were difficult to clean and press. The shop also specialized in the repair and cleaning of lace.

By the late 1930s, business letters are full of comments about Anna’s state of health, which seemed to be in decline. Although Madame Tirocchi continued to sew for her most loyal clients and employed two girls to help with the work until 1940, she could not keep up with the pace of fashion or the ferociously increasing competition.

Her most loyal customers stayed with her until the end, but most found other dressmakers or other solutions by 1942. The truth is that most women by this time had ceased to rely on personal dressmakers, and the Tirocchi shop was not able to stock enough ready-made clothing to give their clients much choice when shopping with them. As longtime customers died or drifted away, new customers did not replace them. The Tirocchi sisters had rarely advertised their business and, in the end, the word-of-mouth system they relied on failed them.

Anna Tirocchi, the leading light of the shop, died on February 26, 1947. Her sister and business partner Laura Tirocchi Cella did not revive the business, choosing instead to devote herself exclusively to her husband and children, whom she may have felt she had neglected during her long partnership in the business. She carefully packed away all of the business records, wrapped in tissue paper the remaining fabrics, laces, ribbon, trim, and notions, and closed the doors on A. & L. Tirocchi.

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  The Family
  The Business
      Butler Exchange
      Move to 514 Broadway
      The Middle Years
      Last Days
  The Clients
  The Workers




Read about the letters from Anna's loyal clients in The EVIDENCE.