Generations – The Last of the Main Street Tailors
At Shaban’s of Andover, Fine Clothing is a Family Affair
Almost 20 years ago, Shaban Catalbas introduced his custom tailoring skills to the downtown Andover area. Today, Shaban’s of Andover is recognized throughout the region as the one-stop shop for high-end menswear and tailoring.
Shaban, Mr. Catalbas, is a master tailor, developing his expertise over 50 years. He began tailoring when he was a teenager and worked as an apprentice under the tutelage of his uncle in their home country of Turkey. For five years, Shaban honed his skills, learning how to cut, sew, iron and craft fashionable menswear. His training was thorough, and the young tailor was soon ready to make his move to the United States.
In 1982, Shaban started at Hickey Freeman manufacturing facility in Rochester, N.Y., and later moved to another men’s clothing facility in Lawrence, Mass. Shaban wanted to be creative but unfortunately, the factory work was monotonous. He describes tailoring as an art, but factory work didn’t allow for creativity.
“I found out I’m not a factory person,” he says. “I’m a tailor. I don’t want to sit with a machine and do the same thing all day.”
So Shaban left the factory and started working as the head tailor for a men’s specialty shop in Burlington, Mass. After 16 years, he left that shop and opened his own business.
In its early years, Shaban’s of Andover was a tailor shop that was initially located on Chestnut Street. As Shaban’s found its footing in the Merrimack Valley, the store dipped its toes into retail by adding men’s and boys’ suits, and even some women’s wear. The Chestnut Street location was a good start, but Shaban was determined to earn his Main Street spot.
“We did OK with the Chestnut Street location, but I had to be here [on Main Street],” says Shaban. “In the tailoring business, people will come and find you, but in retail, people need to see you.”
In October 2015, Shaban’s of Andover moved to its current Main Street location. With an optimal spot for foot traffic, a growing inventory of high-end fashion and expert tailoring, Shaban’s enjoys a growing list of loyal customers. He attributes his success particularly to his master tailoring skills and insists that he is the best in the area.
“There aren’t too many good tailors anymore,” he says. Clients from all over the New England will drive miles for Shaban’s expertise; some clients flying in from as far as Washington D.C.
Shaban has brought together a great team for the store, by adding retail experts and more tailors. Shaban’s continues to thrive and add new clients. He compliments his son, Zafer for adding to the store’s success; he is a tremendous help in running the store and keeping clients happy. Customers appreciate the intimate, family-oriented feel of the shop, and the father-son duo make sure to build strong, long-lasting relationships with their customers.
Shaban’s hosts customer appreciation parties almost every year and invites his customers to this gesture of thanks, and the participants are treated to hors d’oeuvres and delicious Turkish baklava.
“They love it,” Shaban says. And it shows. Although the business has still taken a hit from quarantine, the store’s cliental have stood behind them.
“The [pandemic] isn’t making things easy, but customers have still been coming in to support us, and that’s huge,” says Zafer. “The community wants us to survive. They benefit from us being here, whether it’s for our retail or our tailoring.”
Regardless of what obstacles the store may face, Shaban and his team will still be working six days a week, bringing high-end menswear and tailoring for those who need it.
“I’m here, my lights are on and we are working. That is the most important thing,” says Shaban Catalbas.
Shaban’s of Andover