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It's been a good run: Art's Clothing and Shoes owner retiring

Mario Tulipano calling it a day as owner of business that has been around for 48 years; 'I just want to step back and appreciate what’s around me'

An Orillia business that has had a downtown presence for almost half a century will likely be closing its doors.

Mario Tulipano, owner of Art’s Clothing and Shoes, is holding out hope someone will purchase the business at 20 West St. S., but, sale or no sale, one thing is certain: He’s retiring.

“You get to an age where you think, ‘OK, it’s time to move on,’” said Tulipano, 62.

While retail is “starting to become a young person’s game” with online shopping and advertising, he said the business is viable.

“It’s the type of business I could run until the day I die,” he said.

Art’s Clothing and Shoes has survived the changing times, remaining popular through recessions and the encroachment of big-box retailers.

Tulipano’s father, Art, opened the shop across the street from its current location in 1972. It was one of the first three businesses in Orillia to sell lottery tickets, which proved to be “an inexpensive way to attract people to come into the store,” Tulipano said.

He and his brother, Carlo, took over in 1986. Tulipano has been the sole owner since 2006.

When it first opened, Art’s Clothing and Shoes catered mainly to those in manufacturing and farming.

“Carlo and I expanded our focus. As factories shut down and farming was on the decline, we were losing customers, so we had to get into more casual products,” he said. “We didn’t diversify to the point that we got into the real fashion side. It was more about everyday things that were durable.”

Customers have appreciated what the business has had to offer. Its regulars have included generations of family members.

“It shows we obviously have done a good job over the years and we carry quality products. The service we provide is that hometown kind of feel,” he said. “In a lot of ways, I hate to leave those steady customers without a place like this because there are very few places like this anymore. That’s why it’s difficult for me to end things, but I have to look after myself.”

Word of Tulipano’s retirement is already getting around. He’s had many people wish him well and he’s seen a surge in business.

“Normally, we are busy anyway, but we’ve been exceptionally busy,” he said.

The store will remain open until the rest of the inventory can be moved out, and Tulipano expects that will take a few months.

Ideally, someone else will take the reins.

“It’s been a going concern for 48 years, so we’re always looking for a buyer,” he said, noting both the business and the building are for sale.

He thanked everyone who has supported the business over the years.

He’d been planning for a couple of years to retire and, like many facing that type of freedom, had hoped to travel with his wife. He looks forward to doing that eventually, when travel is safer. For now, he’ll spend some time golfing when the warmer weather returns, skiing and tending to his garden.

“I just want to step back and appreciate what’s around me,” he said.


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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