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Joe the Tailor keeps customers satisfied after 59 years

Joe and Lucy Baker sew garments for customers at their shop in downtown Christiansted.
Joe and Lucy Baker sew garments for customers at their shop in downtown Christiansted.

ST. CROIX — When customers walk into Joe’s Tailoring in Christiansted, they will be greeted by a happy couple of 57 years from Grenada who truly enjoy working together — Joe and Lucy Baker.

Their joy for life comes from the pleasure they get making and altering clothes coupled with the pride of presenting finished garments to satisfied customers.

“I always feel good when I do a good job, so when I finish, I take a look at it,” Joe, also known as Joe the Tailor, said from his shop on Company Street. “When its fitting in the right way, that’s what makes me happy.”

Located downstairs in the two-story beige building with green shutters across from Holy Cross Catholic Church on Company Street, Joe’s Tailoring is filled with clothes and material to make clothing. Some of the clothes in the shop are ready for customers to pick up. There are also clothes customers never picked up that are destined to be donated. Other clothes are next in line to be tailored.

And when the items that need alterations start piling up, Joe and Lucy work as a team to get the job done.

“We do hems, we do cuffs, we make clothes,” Joe said, noting he shares the duties with his wife. “I know all the stuff. What she don’t know she asks me, and we share the job. I make the clothes and she clean it up and she make it look sexy.”

Joe Baker is pictured in his element about 30 years ago when he worked from the second story of his shop in downtown Christiansted in this photograph taken by Ted Davis that hangs on the wall of Joe’s Tailoring on Company Street.
Joe Baker is pictured in his element about 30 years ago when he worked from the second story of his shop in downtown Christiansted in this photograph taken by Ted Davis that hangs on the wall of Joe’s Tailoring on Company Street.

Their exceptional work and friendly service keep customers coming back.

Joe said his shop is always busy without stop. He’s got a good idea why he gets so many repeat customers, too.

“I do the best job,” he said, noting there are plenty of other tailors on island.

His skills aren’t the only thing that bring people back, either.

“I’m just a genuine person, I make joke with everybody, and I tell them anything and make them feel happy,” Joe said. “I make people feel happy. If you ask anybody, they’ll tell you that. They come in here and when they’re going back, they’re laughing.”

Loretta Joseph, a regular customer from Antigua who has lived on island more than 50 years, discussed why she routinely takes her clothes to Joe and Lucy.

“They’re very good people,” she said. “They’re the best tailors I’ve met on St. Croix since I’ve lived here.”

Attorney Flavia Logie, whose office is located next to Joe’s Tailoring in the same building, is one of the many repeat customers who utilizes the tailoring services.

“This is a legacy that’s getting ready to walk away,” she said. “This is an island staple — Joe’s Tailoring. Everybody comes from everywhere.”

The attorney praised Joe for his skills, noting that he’s an old-school designer who does quality work.

“He’s meticulous,” she said. “He takes a lot of time to make sure it’s done right.”

Joe learned how to alter and make clothes while attending trade school in Grenada. He honed his skills working under a Grenadian tailor, the late Lloyd Coutain. After working as a tailor in Grenada, Joe moved to St. Croix in 1965 and opened Joe’s Tailoring.

“I was looking for a bigger dollar,” he said.

Joe was dating Lucy at the time, so she followed him to St. Croix a year later. They got married in June of 1967 and raised four children — three boys and a girl. They maintain a playful banter in the shop while taking their seats in front of Joe’s vintage equipment he has had ever since opening the doors 59 years ago, including a Singer sewing machine, a serger and a hemmer.

Joe and Lucy Baker, a married couple of 57 years who operate Joe’s Tailoring, pose for a photo outside their downtown Christiansted shop.
Joe and Lucy Baker, a married couple of 57 years who operate Joe’s Tailoring, pose for a photo outside their downtown Christiansted shop.

Joe, whose shop is now in its third location in downtown Christiansted, has made various clothing during his time on island. He has made outfits for Carnival, queen shows and members of the band Milo and the Kings, whose leader Emile “Milo” Francis died on Dec. 21, 1997.

The job has changed throughout the years, too.

Joe said he’s still busy, but he does more alterations than making clothes from material.

“Alteration is hard to do,” he said.

No matter how challenging a job is, Joe and Lucy help each other get it done.

When it comes to making alterations, Lucy uses the hemmer with ease to shorten the length of pants.

“You’re not supposed to see the thread on the outside,” she said after making a perfect stitch.

Joe said he doesn’t make suits anymore since sourcing materials is too stressful and his customers no longer request the service. He still makes other clothes, though. He recently made madras shirts and skirts to satisfy a customer who special ordered them for her children. Lucy recently put the finishing touches on one of the madras shirts as she used an iron to remove creases.

“You have to smooth it out,” she said.

Joe shared his knowledge with three boys who wanted to learn the trade during his early days in the business, but the demand has since dried up.

“They’re not interested now,” Lucy said.

Despite past attempts to teach school students and college students that never materialized, Joe is willing to show others how to do the job.

“This trade should be always alive,” he said. “You don’t want to go naked, and everybody can’t make clothes.”

Joe and Lucy have such a good time working together that they don’t plan on retiring any time soon.

Joe and Lucy Baker, pictured attending a function about 20 years ago, will be celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary in June.
Joe and Lucy Baker, pictured attending a function about 20 years ago, will be celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary in June.

“So long as you could work, get up in the morning and you could go, you have to go,” Lucy said, noting she and her husband enjoy tailoring and want to keep at it. “I feel good doing this. I’m just happy doing this.”

Joe’s Tailoring is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Wednesday and Sunday. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments can be made by calling 340-773-2517.

Tom Eader is the Chief Reporter for WTJX. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Eader received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Ball State University, where he wrote for his college newspaper. He moved to St. Croix in 2003, after landing a job as a reporter for the St. Croix Avis. Eader worked at the Avis for 20 years, as both a reporter and photographer, and served as Bureau Chief from 2013 until their closure at the beginning of 2024. Eader is an award-winning journalist, known for his thorough and detailed reporting on multiple topics important to the Virgin Islands community. Joining the WTJX team in January of 2024, Eader brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the newsroom. Email: teader@wtjx.org | Phone: 340-227-4463
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