Marvin Goldman, 84 years old, the owner/operator of Craft Robe/Duffy & Quinn on West 37th St. in New York City, has been providing garments to graduates, judges, clergy and the like for over 60 years. He also provides congratulations at no extra charge.
Local clients visit his place of business to expedite their purchase and then have benefit of meeting the man who offers hearty congratulations and a perfect fit. I recently interviewed Mr. Goldman when picking up a cap and gown for my graduation from Empire State College. Mr. Goldman took time out from his busiest time of year to talk about this quintessential New York business.
“They themselves don’t know what they need. A new Bishop all of a sudden gets this proclamation and they tell him he needs it [his Bishop robes] for July 11, get busy with the stuff. The US Bishops have to retire at 75 and there are close to 400 bishops in the US. We provide for quite a few with a couple of Cardinals thrown in.”
You stock Bishop robes?
“We never stock anything like that. It all has to be custom made. We do the sewing right here. We do a million things here that can’t be duplicated anyplace. All ecclesiastical, we do judges robes, we do school uniforms, we do caps & gowns… it’s all related somehow.”
How did you get started?
“We were four brothers, I was the youngest and we grew up in Brooklyn. We all went into the service. But when I came home I remained with my dad, who passed away very unexpectedly at a very young age, 62. He came into the shop, fell down and that was it. And here all of a sudden I was a kid 23 years old …we gotta…we gotta, ah …make a business here. But we were able to survive. My dad died on a Friday and my Harry was born the next Wednesday. We replaced my Dad who was a Harry with another Harry. You know Empire State College is graduating on June 14th, I got married on a June 14th. It seems like 90 years ago.”
Do you have any competition?
(Pause) “Probably not. Nobody does what we can do. You can come in today and say you need something for Sunday and we won’t say no. And we turn out nice work. I get a call 50 kids at a school need caps & gowns, they say “Marvin come up. So I schlep up to the Bronx. I say, “I only do it for you!” In the meantime it’s a nice order.”