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Retailers size up tuxedo rental season

Nick Sciarratta, 17, of New Hyde Park, gets

Nick Sciarratta, 17, of New Hyde Park, gets fitted for his graduation tux by Mike Hanlon, owner of Ray's Tuxedos, in Franklin Square. (June 19, 2012) Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Suit up!

This is prom week for most Long Island high schoolers. While retailers have long since sold their share of prom dresses for the season, tuxedo rentals are still going steady. Prom rentals often make up a good portion of tuxedo stores' annual sales, and some owners said that without June sales from proms, their businesses wouldn't survive.

Rentals peak in June due to the high volume of weddings and proms, and tuxedo retailers said this week is a critical one for their business.

"This is what we call 'ground zero' week; we have all systems on deck here," said Victor Scognamiglio, owner of men's formalwear store Victor Talbot's in Greenvale.

One afternoon this week, high schoolers and parents lined the lobby of a small Men's Wearhouse and Tux in Bay Shore, with many more in various states of formal dress in the fitting room. The store is renting out 375 tuxes this week.

At the Ray's Tuxedos shop in Franklin Square, a steady stream of teens and parents have been coming in all week. One day, customers were lined up outside before the store opened.

"We still have kids coming in last minute," owner Mike Hanlon said. "We'll probably dress someone on their way to prom."

Average tuxedo rentals run from $70 to $150, though stores often give student discounts for prom.

Both Men's Wearhouse and Ray's said tuxedo rentals will make up about 75 percent of their stores' revenue for June. Without good prom sales this season, Hanlon said the rest of the year would be difficult.

"I always say that if there's no June sales, there will be no July," he said.

Though tuxedo rentals and sales during other points in the year have taken a hit due to the down economy, tuxedo rentals in June have remained fairly steady, store owners said.

Kelly Marzo, who was at Men's Wearhouse this week with her son, reasoned that she didn't want to cut corners on his last event of high school.

"It's the kid's final year; we're not going to skimp on prom," Marzo said. Her son, Steven, 18, was being fitted for the North Babylon High School prom, which took place Wednesday.

Frank Buquicchio, 18, of East Islip, said he saved up to rent his own tux.

"Everyone else will be wearing a tux and my girlfriend wanted me to get one," he said with a grin.

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