April Fools' Day delivered a welcome surprise for the three women who have tailored clothes more than 150 years among them.
The surprise came in the form of a man bearing two pairs of jeans in his arms through the door at 646 Humphrey St.
Nat Cary was the first customer at four days before the business is scheduled to open for business and two weeks before its April 15 grand reopening.
The , as well as the homes of residents, were reduced to ashes up the street in the March 1-2 fire at the Gateway Building.
This morning, however, was about rebirth and happenstance.
The tools of the trade that the women learned as girls of 10 and 14 were in boxes and on tables across the room.
Electrician Tom Mahoney climbed a ladder, wiring the store for lighting.
General contractor Jay Churchill just painted the walls, rolling out a light-yellow color with an egg-shell sheen
The paint's smell was as pleasing as newly cut grass to the women, Tina Manganelli, Vera Spagnuolo and Henrietta Ricciarelli.
Manganelli said it broke her heart to see the old building knocked to the ground, but April and spring and the new store give them hope.
"That is what we were talking about this morning — with the spring coming on, it's a new beginning," Manganelli said.
The women are no strangers to new beginnings.
After learning the tailor's craft as young girls in Italy they came to America and plied their trade, working and raising families.
Seven years ago they lost their jobs working for a clothing retailer. The company shipped their jobs and machines to a foreign country to hire cheaper labor.
The women put their heads and hands together to form a new business.
"We said, 'OK, we can give this community the experience of our lives,'" Spagnuolo said.
For seven years they did just that at Peter's Custom Tailoring. Until the March fire.
"When I saw that building coming down it was breaking my heart," Manganelli said. "I was broken."
Friday at 11 a.m., a longtime customer came in the room to drop off two pairs of jeans to get them hemmed.
"Are you open," he asked, looking at the jumble of equipment, supplies and workers' tools.
The women had no slips to write the order but they took in the pants like a gift, an unexpected gift.
The kind of surprise that helps mend what's broken.