Local Retailer Has a Passion for Fashion
By Debbie Tuma / November 12, 2010
When Barbara Cascia began working for the original owner of Fandango, a chic woman's clothing store in Hampton Bays, she never dreamed that she would one day own the store, and run it for 28 more years.
"But here I am, still working at the same store, and happier than ever with my clientele, my clothes, and my life," said Cascia, bursting with enthusiasm for the fashion world, and looking stylish herself in a green sweater that accentuated her Irish heritage.
The former owner, Linda Gerien, opened Fandango in 1982, and sold it to Cascia, her devoted employee, in 1991. Gerien now owns another woman's clothing store called, Kharma, in Greenport.
"She taught me the retail business," Cascia recalled. "I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even though I had no retail background."
She said she was drawn to the fashion world because she loves people, color, texture, and "anything visual."
"I love clothes, and I even love hangers," she laughed. "I love dressing women. I think women are wonderful creatures, and I never notice if my customers are tall or short, thin or full-figured, I just want to help them look their best so they have the most self-esteem."
She said she also feels strongly that women don't have to spend a lot of money to look good. It's more important that they feel good about themselves, and it will come across.
Cascia said while working part-time for Gerien all those years, she was also the bookkeeper, so she knew the business potential of this store, and she knew that it had acquired a loyal customer base.
"Fandango has moderately priced, contemporary and eclectic clothes and accessories for women, from work to resort wear, to casual wear, to party dresses," she said. "There's something for everyone, so we have a loyal following."
Although her store, on Main Street in Hampton Bays, is open 360 days a year, Cascia is also devoted to her "strong family life," in East Moriches, where she lives. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Steve Cascia, an electrical contractor, and they have two children and four grandchildren.
Born and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, Cascia attended 12 years of Catholic schools before going to secretarial school and working at an accounting firm in the city. When she and her husband started a family, they moved to Mastic, and then they built a house in East Moriches, 26 years ago. Cascia also owned a toy store called, Bear In Mind, in Westhampton Beach for three years.
She and her husband love to travel, and they also have a home in the Florida Keys, where they spend time in the winter months. Cascia said Italy and other parts of Europe are her favorite travel destinations.
She and her husband also enjoy going to Broadway shows, and she travels back and forth to Manhattan for buying trips and to attend trade shows on a regular basis.
"I love this too, because it's shopping!" she quipped.
When asked to what she attributes her longevity in the retail business, Cascia said, "I feel that customer service has been my number one priority. You need to be open when you say you'll be open, and you need to know your customers and what they like. It also helped that I was in the store so much, and not an absentee owner."
When asked what advice she would give to new, young store owners, Cascia said, "Go to work for someone else for a few years first. There's nothing like first-hand learning."
After 28 years of running her own business, Cascia still says, "It's not like work, it's fun. I'm very store-proud. I never get bored, and I never get done."