BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As we get closer to the one-year remembrance of the Tops mass shooting, the question remains: How do we continue to heal? Well, one man in Buffalo invites other men to come and talk. He’s also giving away free suits.
“People judge a book by its cover,” Dewitt Lee said, the owner of St. Brian Clothiers.
At St. Brian Clothiers, anyone who needs a suit can walk in and will be sized and dressed for free.
“When (people) see a suit, they see a man on the pursuit of something positive,” Lee said. “I think that’s overall what we want to project… that philosophy, on the men who wear the suit, that you are officially on the pursuit of something great.”
Tailoring is included, and so is customization by Artist Joe Andrews.
“I always got ridiculed for wearing thrift shop stuff and things of that nature, but I didn’t let it bother me because it was what I liked, so I want to give people what they want,” Andrews said.
And it’s an open-door policy.
“A lot of times you have to go through agencies, you have to go through affiliates in order to have access to this kind of service, but we want people to feel comfortable enough to walk down the street and walk in,” Lee said.
Dewitt Lee founded St. Brian Clothiers at Main Street and E. Utica Street, but has since moved down the street to The Paramount Lodge, a building that’s been there since the late 1800’s.
“We’re just a stone’s throw away from what we call ‘Ground Zero,’ he said. “And we knew that we needed to be closer to this area from area because we took it hard… we’re taking it hard.”
A year ago, when tragedy struck, his mission became even more important. And that mission doesn’t just include dressing men.
There, they address men too… and the issues they could be facing.
“When they allow me to get their sizes, it breaks this threshold and we become vulnerable.”
Sometimes, someone just needs a place to talk.
“That’s the one thing we provide in here: our time.”
Lee says the space is an oasis for men to gather, heal and have someone listen and understand their pain.
“We believe if we heal the men, then they’re going to back in their families and they’re going to be able to be ambassadors of peace and love in their families,” Lee said. “And then we believe families are the catalyst of change in the conditions of our communities.”
All the suits, shoes, belts, ties, hats and more are donated. Many of them are from men who have retired and don’t need suits anymore, but there are also many items from widows: including pieces donated by the family of the late Deacon Hayward Patterson, who was a victim of May 14th.
“St. Brian Clothiers is a place where the legacy of a man’s character and his clothes lives on forever.”
So, one year after this community felt shattered, as mourning continues, because grief doesn’t have a time limit, St. Brian Clothiers will be there. And Lee said, they will continue to be there as a legacy business in that neighborhood.
“To have them stolen from us in the way that they did has left a void that is hard to fill,” he said. “Hate gets in those vacant spaces, so we have to find a way to continue be champions of love… we believe that love never fails.”
On Sunday, May 14, St. Brian Clothiers will be open. Two authors will be there who are riving roadmaps for people to heal. One of them is Mark Talley, who’s mother was killed on May 14. They’re also giving away free flowers to mothers, and others grieving the loss of mothers.
To donate to St. Brian Clothiers, email: firstname.lastname@example.org