Thursday, May 05, 2016

Is This The End For Marietta On Court Street? Old Fashioned Clothing Store Has Been Closed For A While Now

Carroll Gardens without Marietta, the old time clothing store at 392 Court Street, would simply not be the same neighborhood.  It is a vestige of the neighborhood's Italian heritage, of a simpler time when local residents bought flowered housecoats, flannel underwear, waist high undies and cotton handkerchiefs.
For quite a while now, the store has been shuttered.  In January of this year, a "Closed for Vacation' sign appeared on its front door, but it never re-opened afterwards.
That has many Carroll Gardeners wondering if this time, it may not re-open.
Which would be incredibly sad and a tremendous loss to the neighborhood.

The clothing store has been in operation at this location since the 1940s. It was originally founded by Marietta Chirico, a gutsy Italian immigrant who saved up her money and bought the Court Street building, so that she could open her dry goods store on the ground floor. Later, her two sons Joe and Matty stepped in to help run the business.

Though there never seemed to be any visible order in the store, Joe always knew exactly in which brown cardboard box to look to find what their customers are looking for.
Besides white cotton underwear, Joe and Matty, when he was still alive, served up their infectious laughs and hilarious banter. Walking into their store was a real experience and one can only imagine what Mother Marietta was like.

After Matty passed away a few years ago, his older brother Joe who is now well into his 90s continued on. Every work day at about 11 am, he would slowly make his way from his home on Clinton Street to take his place behind the counter of his store. Joe's grandson started helping him run the store for the past few years, so there was hope that Marietta's would remain open for a while longer

I spoke to several people about the fact that the store had been closed now for weeks. One longtime resident told me that it never really re-opened after the 'on vacation' sign went up in January. Someone else told me that Joe was now in a wheelchair and was not coming out of his house any more. There are rumors that the storefront has been rented to someone else, but I was not able to confirm this.

Whatever the reason, it is terribly sad to imagine that Marietta may not re-open.
Let us hope that this is not the end for this neighborhood institution.

Marietta at 392 Court Street when it was open
Matty and Joe Chirico when both brothers still ran the store
(image above courtesy of Carroll Gardens Patch)

Here is a beautiful video of the Chirico brothers in their store. It was filmed by Abbey Adkinson.


Ellen B said...

I loved this little store. My husband bought his handkerchiefs there. It will not be the same without it, if this is closed for good.
And the sign that told customers to not be in a hurry was great.

Unknown said...

This breaks my heart is so many pieces....

Anonymous said...

My mom went to grade school with Matty (who she called Maathay...for some reason, I guess that was what they called in at PS 142 in the 1930s.)

He was a very nice man and always gave my mother a big hello when she went in (and of course...."don't tax!")

She's been gone for a while and slowly but surely...the neighborhood old timers are passing!

I will always remember my mother and the aunts going to Marietta's for socks, underwear and pajamas

They also shopped at Carriti's which was on the corner of 1st Place.... The used to have a female mannequin as soon as you walked in. She had no arms, but always wore the latest in "fashionable" house dresses.

And maybe someone else remembers... There was a lady who had a storefront on Court Street between Luquer and 4th Place on the west side, I think her name was Marietta as well. She also sold house dresses. All the ladies from St. Mary's used to congregate there.

Pardon my walk down memmory lane.

I hope Joe is okay.

Dolores said...

Bought my first pairs of nylons, yes, nylons, not pantyhose in there!

Katia said...

Thanks so much for sharing your memories Dolores and Anonymous. More stories, please.

psternglass said...

I used to get my kids underwear and socks there. It was quick, easy, inexpensive, and nice to do business with nice neighbors. Too bad; a real anachronism.

Anonymous said...


Nancy said...

"After Matty assed away a few years ago"- Yikes! I never want to ASS away!

kathleen said...

So sad to hear. I always enjoyed a trip to the store and a chat with the owners. It was also my 'send to' place during the summer when kids forgot to bring a T-shirt when we tie-dyed. If it is closing, they were be sorely missed for many reasons and by many people. Kathleen

Anonymous said...

Neighborhood Slice on NYCTV has a better video on them.
I needed underwear and went by several times and closed both times. The nephew should really have left a note. I figured it was an Easter break or something. I know the man hasn't been up to working but the nephew said he would continue. He also said he moved into the neighborhood from queens. He's a nice young guy but I can't see him making Marietta his life. Please reopen. Please don't rent and gut renovate into a nail salon. There are many people out there who would respect the integrity of this place and keep it as it is with minor alterations. That enamal sign. Please oh please save it if you close. Your relatives will thank you for it. Do they own the whole building? I'm so sad. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

Please don't say "closed". We don't know anything yet. There is inventory and it will be sold. Give the family time if there is something wrong.

Katia said...

Yikes, indeed! Sorry for that. Just corrected. Thanks for pointing it out, Nancy.

Anonymous said...

You would always get the socks and underwear, alone with some great old stories of the neighborhood. It made the shopping for necessities so much more pleasant that going to Target of Amazon. Would be wonderful to see another local enterprise provide some basic goods in our community.

Anonymous said...

Marietta is a treasure -the inventory, the sweet people who work there. Yes, another era - and as another comment pointed out - so much nicer than going to Target! I bought my mom house dresses there. Marietta always has lovely, comfortable ones. I really hope the store stays - and yes, their sign is fantastic.

lynchly said...

Pieces like this are the reason I love your blog. And the pictures! Thank you from a Queens native now living on the Oregon coast and homesick always. Lee Lynch

Katia said...

Thank you, Lynn. I am just sorry that the news from the neighborhood has been sort of sad lately.

Anonymous said...

A week or so ago I saw a fancy-looking guy peeking in, in what I imagine was a real-estate kind of way. At the storefront and the building itself. I know that's pretty iffy as gossip, but he did not seem to be looking for t-shirts.