KENNEBUNK – After more than 50 years of fitting men’s suits and matching ties to blazers, Karl Hooper said it’s time to retire.

Hooper, who owns Marier’s Men’s Shop on Main Street, hopes to liquidate the store and close by the end of the month.

“I’ve been doing this a long time. At 72, I’m getting tired of it,” he said.

Walking into the store, you might find Hooper sitting in a rocking chair in the entry. A few stools are positioned in a circle, usually a place for regulars to sit and chat.

Ties hanging from the ceiling camouflage a small television behind the counter. A hefty, old-fashioned register sits on a second counter — it was bought used in 1931 and still rings up sales. Men’s dress shirts individually packaged in plastic are stacked on shelves lining the walls and organized in such a way that Hooper can easily pull out a size for a waiting customer.

Marier’s Men’s Shop has been outfitting men since Robert Marier opened it in 1929. Hooper started working there in 1954 as a high school sophomore; he purchased the business from Marier 13 years later.

At the time, he said, there was another men’s shop across the street and three in Biddeford. Today, Marier’s Men’s Shop is the only one left standing.

“It’s sad to see him go,” said Dick Bibber, a regular customer and longtime friend. “To all good things comes an end, and he needs some time, too, to enjoy himself.”

Bibber said it was the prompt service that kept him returning to Marier’s for clothing.

When a customer enters his shop, Hooper immediately asks what he’s looking for and retrieves the items in the size he needs. Hooper said that set his store apart from department stores.

“Those days are gone,” Bibber said.

And the key to a good fit, Hooper said, is to “make ’em happy.”

“If they’re not happy, then it’s not a good fit,” he said.

Some of his regular customers have “almost been in tears” over the news of his retirement, he said.

“I really don’t know what they’ll do,” Hooper said, then jokingly added, “Call me up. I’ll become your personal shopper.”

Aside from all his regular customers, Hooper has outfitted a few notables. Former President George H.W. Bush stopped in the shop once to pick up a bow tie for a speaking engagement, Hooper said. He also sold a pair of shorts to Willard Scott, known for wishing centenarians happy birthday on NBC’s “Today.”

Hooper’s wife, Marlene, said she is happy to see her husband retire. The couple has been married for 43 years and Marlene said it is time for him to relax and enjoy life.

“Of course, he’s going to miss the many customers that come in and talk,” she said. “He’s a people person.”

When he locks up the shop doors for the last time at the end of August, Hooper said he’s not sure what he will do.

“I’m just going to see what’s going to happen next,” he said. “It’s been fun over the years.”

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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