Ronaldo Elizabeth Tailors has been a Dallas institution for nearly three decades. Nestled in a hidden corner of Preston Royal Villager, the shop is easy to overlook.
The small family-owned business specializes in alterations and custom clothing for men and women. The business does little advertising, thriving almost solely on repeat customers and word of mouth.
“I’ve been coming here forever,” said longtime customer Caro Stalcup. “They are the best.”
The store’s wall, plastered with Christmas cards, graduation announcements, and family vacation pictures sent from loyal customers, is a testament to this.
“I’m tall and skinny and they had to fit everything on me,” Stalcup said. “I tried to get out of it, but I realized I was just wearing a lot of ill-fitting clothes, so I came back.”
Elizabeth Sosa says she and her husband offer services that are hard to find these days. They can create full re-cuts of garments, opening them up and transforming the material into original pieces that better shape the body.
According to the couple, clients can order a complete, American-made custom suit from scratch. Customers choose the material and style. Within weeks, they will have a unique personalized suit.
When Ronaldo and Elizabeth started out, more people used to dress up than do today. Many of their clients grew up in an era when custom clothing was the norm. Today, many of these customers continue to come, often passing down the tradition to the next generation.
“We are blessed with our customers,” Elizabeth said. “They are beautiful people. They are like family.”
Elizabeth was born in Honduras but moved to New York as a young girl. She learned to sew from her mother, who was a seamstress.
“My mother used to make all of my clothes,” Elizabeth said.
Ronaldo came from a family of tailors. When he was 22, he emigrated from Honduras to New York, and soon began working for clothing manufacturer Hart Schaffner Marx. After 25 years with the company, he was transferred to their Dallas subsidiary Jas. K. Wilson in 1987.
“I thought [Dallas] was way more beautiful than New York,” Elizabeth said. “The lifestyle is so much richer.”
Later that year, the couple opened their first store in Preston Center. Elizabeth ran the business, but it did not yet bear her name.
“We just called it Ronaldo’s because it was still a man’s world then,” Elizabeth said.
While Elizabeth worked to build the family business, Ronaldo was promoted to director of tailoring at Jas K. Wilson, and was responsible for 18 stores. When that company began to falter he moved on to roles at Roberto Cavalli and Saks Fifth Avenue.
“I did a lot of management but was always involved in the sewing,” Ronaldo said. “That’s what I do best.”
About 10 years ago, the leasing situation at Preston Center motivated the Sosas to seek a new location.
They chose Preston Royal because it was within walking distance of their home. It was also around this time that Ronaldo decided to retire from his corporate career and fully dedicate himself to the family business.
“We are happy to work together,” Ronaldo said. “Now there are kids and grandkids coming and we are still here.”
Both Ronaldo and Elizabeth are now in their 70s. They have one child, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, all of whom live in North Texas. To many people this would seem like the ideal time to retire, but not to them.
Ronaldo and Elizabeth have cut back some. They now work only by appointment. They close the store on Mondays, and often take long lunches. However, they are both adamant that they have no plans to close up shop any time soon. Elizabeth boasts that she and her husband are healthy, take no medication, and enjoy getting up and going to work. Ronaldo adds that he has no desire to stay home and watch more TV.
“Working keeps people alive,” Ronaldo said. “I believe the body is like a machine. If you stop, it gets rusty here and there, and before you know it, you’re in bed.”