NYC shop cleans and fixes neckties from all over the world

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Before he purchased Tiecrafters 35 years ago, before he oversaw the repair, alteration and cleaning of an estimated 4 million neckties, Andy Tarshis was a 20-something working at Bloomingdale's with little knowledge of or interest in the tie business.

"I actually answered an ad in the New York Times," Tarshis said. "'Owner looking to sell a service business.'"

Now 61 years old, the president of Tiecrafters oversees four employees who've each spent an average of more than 26 years with the company. From a basement on 29th Street, this team of five cleans, repairs and alters neckties for customers located all around the world.

"We probably are the best at cleaning neckwear in the country," Tarshis said.

President Nixon and a cast of other dignitaries and celebrities have sent Tiecrafters ties in need of maintenance, and while Hermes and other luxury brands recommend Tarshis to their customers, the ruler of this shop welcomes ties at all price points and of all materials, colors and patterns. In the tie-cleaning, -repairing and -alteration business, it seems there is no such thing as an ugly necktie.

"Everybody has their preference on what the perfect tie is," Tarshis said, "so I'll never comment to somebody on an ugly tie."

The desired width of a necktie seems to fluctuate in popularity from decade to decade. The most recent transition from wider ties to skinnier ones has provided Tiecrafters with an influx of new customers.

"The narrowing has definitely been a breath of fresh air for us," Tarshis says.

The tailors at Tiecrafters now spend much of their days trimming ties to widths of three-and-a-quarter inches and narrower, but cleaning remains the business' staple and the self-scrubbers of stains its nemeses.

"If you take a napkin and try to rub out the stain," Tarshis said, "you'll chafe the fabric and pill the color."

So while hand-craftsmen and -women in other industries around this city retire and surrender to large corporations and their machines, the five-person team at Tiecrafters continues to steam and stitch and stow the sartorial stylings of an array of different customers into the slimmer dimensions of the present and the future.