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‘Wichita is a special city’

Retirements are usually happy occasions, but for Farzaneh Nasiri, there have been a lot of tears.

The 65-year-old was contemplating retiring from her Chic Custom Tailoring & Alterations, which she’s had for three decades and her ex-husband had for years before that.

Then she learned she wouldn’t get her full Social Security benefits until age 67.

Back problems forced her decision, though. Nasiri said she decided to retire within two weeks and spent much of that time crying and saying goodbye to her long-time customers, many of whom didn’t have dry eyes either.

“I wanted to continue working, but my back pain was getting worse and worse,” Nasiri said.

In a way, her customers helped cement her decision.

“I didn’t think I could be as nice as I was before.”

She said when you’re in pain, you can’t smile as easily or be the same person you used to be.

“Money’s not worth it.”

Nasiri’s ex-husband, the late Bob Panahi, started the business in the late 1980s before Nasiri moved here. When he returned to his native Iran, Nasiri took over the business.

“I learned everything from him.”

Although she made some clothes from scratch, Nasiri mostly did alterations. Sometimes, that meant taking inherited pieces, such as fur coats, and creating new pieces, such as vests.

The business started in Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn and had a few locations until finally Nasiri operated out of her home after a lightning strike and her previous house-turned-shop had substantial damage from the water firefighters used following the strike.

Nasiri said insurance representatives said they were surprised she chose to keep her business going after she received a check for the damages.

“I dearly love my customers,” she said. “They are like my family.”

Even during the pandemic, Nasiri said her customers supported her.

“Wichita is a special city.”

She said she saw multiple generations of families through the years and watched children grow and become her customers, too.

“It was amazing to watch them grow. “It was really heartbreaking to say goodbye.”

Thus, all the tears.

“It’s like going through a divorce,” Nasiri said. “It’s that painful.”

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