Palo Alto Tailoring closed three years ago. Customers want their clothes back. | News | Palo Alto Online |

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Palo Alto Tailoring closed three years ago. Customers want their clothes back.

Owner goes silent after shop shutters, leaving patrons puzzled

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Wendy Harrison, left, and Monica Cappuccini stand outside Palo Alto Tailoring, which took their clothes in for tailoring but then closed nearly three years ago, shuttering with customers' garments still inside. The El Camino Real shop has yet to give Harrison, Cappuccini and many others their clothes back. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

Customers of a Palo Alto tailoring business say they have been trying to get their clothing back for nearly three years, but the doors of Palo Alto Tailoring remain tightly shut, leaving them staring longingly through the glass doors.

The little white stucco shop with blue lettering at 3700 El Camino Real and Barron Avenue closed in summer 2017, three customers told the Weekly. But despite their notes on and under the door, calls to the business owner and threats of a lawsuit, shop owner Sep Hines has not given their clothing back, they said.

The shop was a fixture in the Barron Park neighborhood for nearly 20 years. The three customers, two of whom patronized the business for nearly all of that time, said they are baffled by the mystery of why they can't get their clothing and drapery. Frustrated by the lack of communication, they are now considering small claims lawsuits, they said.

Alexis Davis had frequented Palo Alto Tailoring since 1999, she said.

"I even had a set of curtains hemmed in about 2005. When these got old and in need of replacement, I dropped off two sets of curtains in August 2016: a set of sheers and a set of silk curtains from Pottery Barn," she said in an email to the Weekly.

Hines never notified her that her curtains were done, however. On several occasions, Davis stopped to inquire about her curtains, she said.

"The first time (Sep) needed clarification on what needed to be done — despite me telling her when I dropped them off and giving her my old curtain for measurement. Then she was mostly closed, but I managed to find her open about a year later (in August 2017), when I picked up my sheers. I have never recovered my very expensive silk blackout curtains from her," Davis said.

The phone number listed on the ticket went to a fax machine. Beginning in summer 2018, Davis started to drop off notes at the store. She called Palo Alto Police Department, which said it was a civil matter and declined to help. She called the Better Business Bureau, which said they couldn't help. She sought information from Santa Clara County through the store's fictitious business name license and found the business was listed at what appeared to be an abandoned home in Los Altos.

Davis sent letters to the Los Altos address and dropped off letters at the storefront. Her certified letters were returned. Finally, Hines contacted Davis in August 2018 after receiving a letter Davis had placed under the store's door threatening to sue Hines.

"She called and apologized profusely, said she had been through a lot and promised that her shop was going to re-open in September 2018. As she is a small-business owner, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and said 'OK, I'll wait to pick them up when your store re-opens. But that never happened," Davis said.

She created a Yahoo email account and posted a message on the business door asking if anyone wanted to join her in her efforts to reclaim goods. That's how she found Monica Cappuccini and Wendy Harrison, other customers who were working through their own process to get their items back by leaving notes at the storefront, she said.

Davis said she doesn't know how many other people might also be waiting for their items.

"Looking through the windows, there are all sorts of items left abandoned in the store," Davis said.

Cappuccini, who also was a customer from the beginning, said she lives nearby the tailoring shop and noticed right away when the store closed. There was no message on the door. Three of her favorite T-shirts are locked inside.

After the initial closure, Hines reopened after about six months and then promptly closed for good three weeks later — before Cappuccini had a chance to pick up her shirts, which Hines had promised to find, she said. She left many notes for Hines and called the business until the line was disconnected, she said.

Harrison, a customer for four years, had a similar experience. Her jacket and a dress remain inside the shop.

"I called the number, but it became disconnected. I've left messages in writing, either taped to the door or slipped through the crack under it about every two weeks since July 2017," she said in an email.

On Nov. 22, 2019, Harrison sent a letter by certified mail explaining her intent to sue in Santa Clara County Small Claims Court.

"An attempt to deliver the letter was made twice and then returned to me as undeliverable. I also put a copy of the letter under the door, so I believe she knows of my intent to sue," she said.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Barry Hines, Sep Hines' husband, said that he relayed a request for comment to his wife. He said she didn't want to return the Weekly's call but that she said something might happen in early March. She has had different plans regarding the shop, but he doesn't know what they might be. In March, she might find a solution, he added.

A call to the property owner, KSS Investment LLC, was not immediately returned.

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Comments

36 people like this
Posted by Weird
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 9:29 am

Can't they consider the items stolen, get a court order to unlock the door and get their stuff back?


25 people like this
Posted by Another Way
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2020 at 10:51 am

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Yah
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 21, 2020 at 11:07 am

Property destruction is always the best way to get what you want.
Then you can pay the fines and repairs after they catch you; here's your sweater though, LOL.
Brilliant plan based on risk/reward, simply brilliant.


17 people like this
Posted by AD
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 11:20 am

if you are interesting in getting your goods back too, please email: paloaltotailoring@yahoo.com


13 people like this
Posted by pup
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 21, 2020 at 11:42 am

[Portion removed.] I heard through a neighbor that the owner became ill [portion removed.]. It's unfortunate circumstances all around but advocating damaging property is ridiculous.


18 people like this
Posted by Civility, please.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2020 at 12:43 pm

The rule of law, when it is supported by the majority of us, keeps our society and economy stable, healthy and functional.

There is a legal path toward getting these things back. Small claims court is the way to go.

Let's all behave like adults, communicate and behave in ways that models civil behavior and maintains a healthy society to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Some of these posts are truly appalling. Please model more self-discipline and maturity in this public forum. If it was your intention to be funny, you totally missed the mark.


17 people like this
Posted by Prop 47
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 1:04 pm

Unless your shirts are worth more than $950, you’re not going to see them again. Unless you search for them on Craigslist.

Prop 47 keeping our neighborhoods safe!


15 people like this
Posted by sabra chartrand
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Your quotes from Barry Hines should be in the third or fourth paragraph of this story. They don't resolve the issue, but his response should be at the top, not tacked to the end.


17 people like this
Posted by Just Gotta Poke Around
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 2:22 pm

> Unless your shirts are worth more than $950, you’re not going to see them again. Unless you search for them on Craigslist.

^^Also consider checking Goodwill or the Salvation Army.


12 people like this
Posted by Pam
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Why not call a locksmith, have the locksmith open the door without damaging anything and the go in a find your things?

Have the locksmith re-lock the door so nothing is damaged or stolen.


23 people like this
Posted by Just Gotta Poke Around
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm

>>> quote: "Why not call a locksmith, have the locksmith open the door without damaging anything and the go in a find your things?"

^^^Because that would be considered breaking & entering. DUH


14 people like this
Posted by Let it go
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 21, 2020 at 3:13 pm

To me, it seems like a waste of time and resources to take someone to court over used curtains and t-shirts even if it's just on principle. :)


19 people like this
Posted by Barron
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 3:58 pm

My niece had to get a new dress altered that she was planning to wear for a friend’s wedding. The shop closed and we never heard from the lady. We could see the dress hanging on a rack. Luckily, one day as I was driving by, I noticed that the shop was open. I stopped and spoke to the owner and got the dress back. It had been altered. The owner apologized and refused any money for the work she had done. She wasn’t very forthcoming about the reason for closing the shop. But hinted at some problems. I did not press her for details.


10 people like this
Posted by Shonda
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 22, 2020 at 5:50 am

” We got money for wars but can't feed the poor ”


18 people like this
Posted by Obviously
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2020 at 6:39 am

[Post removed.]


34 people like this
Posted by Agape
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2020 at 7:26 am

In this era of attack journalism and where tweets rain down upon us without consideration of basic human decency, I would ask that the editor, author and my fellow Barron Park neighbors who have been so well comforted and taken care of for decades exercise their humanity and ask yourselves not when you can recover your belongings but rather how you can return the comfort we got from Sep Hines and help her through whatever unfortunate circumstance has befallen her.

When my family arrived in Barron Park 15 years ago, we were also immigrants and did not know anyone and longed for home. Now BarronPark is our home, in no small part thanks to people like Sep Hines and others who give so much to this community.

The story could have noted that Sep Hines was an immigrant to our country from war torn Korea, and had overcome childhood polio, abuse, domestic violence and poverty to achieve the dignity of her own small business. Having overcame so many struggles, despite her short height, Sep towered above our community. When we first ventured into her store to them a dress all those years ago, Sep made us feel welcome. She told the mother of our family that she was beautiful, and the father that the mother found him handsome. She made clothes for the children out of kindness.

Filled with strength and love for humanity, Sep is a devout Catholic. Despite having only one son and no other family in the are, she allowed her son to be called to seminary, and he now pastors in a neighboring community. While she will never have grandchildren, she considers the rectory where her son lives to contain all of her children.

When we lost a job, a family member or had a bad day, Sep was there to comfort us and make us feel like we looked our best.

Sep Hines is a wonderful and kind person, and if she has not been able to come to the store, open the doors, and complete the many orders and return belongings, I am quite sure that it is not part of a scheme to profit from the Barron Park family that she cared for so well for so many years, but because something has prevented her.

While we may not know where it is, I am hoping that readers of this post will reconsider their frustration and reach out to Sep and offer a hand, as she had to all of us for so many years.


24 people like this
Posted by Bro seriously?
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2020 at 9:59 am

Some blackout drapes and 3 t-shirts. This has caused several people to stress over them for 3 YEARS. W. T. F?

I lost virtually EVERYTHING when my family's home was destroyed in a flood. I understand that we get emotionally invested in our stuff, but it can vanish in a moment. Let it GO.

The epitome of First World Problems


16 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2020 at 10:02 am

The smart thing to do for Sep would be for her to find someone to act as intermediary, advertise when she will be open, and then open the shop for people to recover their items. Document items given back and then take the rest to Goodwill. Of course advertise the opening and exchanging with lots of notice. That way everyone will just get off her back.


15 people like this
Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 22, 2020 at 10:13 am

The simplest thing would be to open for a week so customers could get their clothes back. Then take other appropriate steps such as selling the business or facility. If one needs the money, these steps would advance things. Sorry if illness has affected someone, of course.


15 people like this
Posted by The award fits to....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2020 at 11:22 am

LOL. I guarantee this story will win an award at the next local newspaper award event. Such a Palo alto story. The humanity. And what about the picture? Did the photographer happen to drive by when the two women happened to be outside or was it a posed photo?


11 people like this
Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 22, 2020 at 12:42 pm

I doubt anyone would want clothes that have been sitting for three years in a stuffy, locked store. Not to mention they might be a little out of style by now. Best to just write them off an buy something new. And if you're looking for someone to do simple tailoring, I highly recommend An at Elite Cleaners on University. She's been doing alterations for me for two decades now, and she's very good. Plus, she always gives you clothes back!


24 people like this
Posted by relentlesscactus
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2020 at 2:31 am

I love the shamers! Shaming those who lost their clothes. And the sob story. Seriously, someone can't meet them at the store for five minutes?


30 people like this
Posted by relentlesscactus
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2020 at 10:20 am

The thing that seems lost here is that the owners are still paying rent. Those with clothes inside are lucky the clothes are still there; but rightfully, I'd be concerned the place goes full belly up and the clothes end up in a dumpster. Those defender the owner may be correct that they are decent people, but in three years, actually three years AGO, the husband could have returned a call, met the people at the shop and returned the items, even if in original condition -- like one hour of work for them. Something is very off here. Those dismissing this as 'first world problems', well, very true, but also very judgemental of you. There is nothing minor in the concept of holding someone's property, breaking the intent of contract, or the owners not taking even the smallest effort to correct a easily fixable issue. Go customers!


5 people like this
Posted by Lookitup
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2020 at 5:49 pm

In response to "relentlesscactus" if you search the names of the owner and her husband, you will see that there appears to be a money issue. Why do you think the owner is still paying rent on the shop? I highly doubt she is. Did you check with the property management company?

I think the most likely scenario is that the building will one day be sold and demolished or re-rented and all the goods inside taken to the dump. It seems unlikely that most of these people will be getting their items back - unless they pick the lock and retrieve them.


5 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2020 at 7:14 pm

Small claims court. That is the answer.


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