CARROLL GARDENS — It's a family affair.
Marietta’s, a decades-old clothing shop in Carroll Gardens, has been run by multiple generations of the same family since it was founded in 1940, surviving ups and downs of the economy, fashion, and even deaths in the family.
The store was created by Maria Chirico, who started it by selling dresses door-to-door in the neighborhood after moving to New York City from Amalfi, Italy. In 1950, she relocated the shop to 392 Court St. after buying the building, relatives say.
Her sons, Matt and Joe Chirico, took over the store in the early 1950s — after returning home from serving in World War II — and spent the last six decades selling men’s, women’s and children’s clothing while preparing to pass the torch to the next generation.
When Matt Chirico passed away Aug. 5 at the age of 87 after succumbing to heart failure, the store transitioned yet again, this time into the hands of 23-year-old Matt Egan, Chirico's grandson.
“Everything I know about the store is because of him,” said Egan, who began helping out at Marietta's when he was 15 and learned the tricks of the trade from his grandfather — paying bills, making orders and getting to know customers.
“I just really wanted to help him out," added Egan, who is now the co-manager of the store along with his great uncle Joe Chirico, 93.
Like his grandfather, Egan found speaking to customers to be the most enjoyable part of the job, he said.
Still, Egan plans to add a few modern updates of his own, expanding the store's inventory, making a few cosmetic changes to its interior and maybe even improving its online presence.
“It’s best to carry just a little bit of everything,” said Egan, adding that the most popular product now is a $9 T-shirt with “Brooklyn” written in white cursive letters.
Compare that to the Marietta's of yesteryear, when the most popular items were slips that women would wear under dresses and woolen undergarments that dock workers in Red Hook donned to keep themselves warm during winter, Joe Chirico said.
“What people bought years ago, they don’t buy today,” said Joe Chirico, adding that longline bras and garters used to sell “like crazy.”
“Styles have changed,” he added.
Still, Egan said he knows better than to change the winning formula that's kept the business solvent for more than a half-century.
“The formula we have works. We really don’t want to change too much,” Egan said.