The “oldest” family owned business in Clovis has been defining the “Clovis way of life” since opening in 1907.
According to “The History of Sassano’s Men’s Wear”, Sassano’s has served the Clovis community since 1907 when owner, Aniello Sassano opened a shoe repair shop in Front St., which is now known as Clovis avenue.
Bob Parks, manager at Sassano’s Men’s Wear, said that small businesses are at the core of what he thinks the “Clovis Way of Life” is.
“It’s the small businesses that keep the way of life in Clovis going,” Parks said.
The level of service Sassano’s provides to customers is an aspect that Parks attributes to why they have been able to stay open for so long.
“We feel it’s been the personal service that we added all these years that people come in and they compliment us on that,” Parks said.
Serving the community remains important to Sassano’s and is displayed each year when they award the “Sassano Blanket” award to the outstanding senior athlete in each of Clovis High’s 23 sports.
Presenting the blanket to athletes is a tradition that started in 1936, during which Clovis High School only had four sports.
“It’s very coveted, everybody wants to win it for their child or the child wants to win it,” Parks said.
As is the case for many businesses, COVID-19 left a lasting impact on the way Sassano’s is able to operate. Because of supply chain issues, Parks said there was an instance when the store was unable to get their supply of denim jeans from Levi, Lee, and Wrangler because they all had the same issue with their supply. Each company was unable to send the jeans because the zippers and buttons that were meant to go on the pants were made at a second site and were taking longer than usual to be transported.
Because of delayed shipments from supply chain issues, Parks said Sassano’s is still facing issues receiving shipments.
“There’s products that we can get and some of the stuff that is now showing up that we look back in our books and we see that we ordered it in May, June, July, August, or September of last year and now it’s showing up,” Parks said.
Since opening in 1937 and then reopening in Feb. 1932 after the great depression forced the store to close in 1931, Parks said that the products sold by Sassano’s have remained the same for the most part.
“We’ve always been just basic jeans and work boots and cowboy boots and some western shirts and some basic shirts but now there’s a lot more competition,” Parks said.
Looking back at how much has changed since working at Sassano’s, Parks said the fashion of the Clovis Rodeo has changed since he started working at Sassano’s.
“It used to be everybody had a cowboy hat, cowboy shirt, some jeans, and now we do some of that business but not what we did back then,” Parks said.
Families used to come into the store, according to Parks, and buy matching outfits and cowboy hats to wear to the rodeo and now Parks said, the trend is tank tops and baseball caps.
“Well, he’s a cowboy for that day,” Parks said.
Working at Sassano’s Parks said he’s seen customers come through and some pass away, but the most memorable experiences for him were the times celebrities would stop by the store.
Celebrities like ‘Cheyenne’ star Clint Walker who, Parks said, stopped by with his daughter.
The history of Sassano’s is filled with their dedication to serving the Clovis community. Starting with their decision to create the “Sassano’s Blanket” award in 1936, to the time during the 1950’s-60’s where Sassano’s provided gym clothes and sports uniforms to Clovis High school, and in the present where Sassano’s continued to serve essential workers and remain open during the early days of the pandemic so that city workers could buy shoes that had safety toes and safety plates.
A tribute to Bob Parks:
Since 1963 Parks has been a mainstay at Sassano’s, helping the business sell hats, shoes and clothing.
Greg Sassano, owner of Sassano’s Mens Wear, commented on Bob’s milestone, “August 3, 1963, Bob’s dad told him to go see Shorty at Sassano’s after school. That was the beginning of his career. Working part time for a while, finishing school. Eventually becoming a full time job. Still here after 58 years. So thankful to still have him here. Would not still be in business if not for Bob. What a great person.”
Parks has been part of Sassano family after serving three generations of the family. He worked alongside: Aniello’s son, Lawrence “Shorty,” his son, Les and now Greg Sassano.