International Fashions, a unique store in Carbondale’s University Mall featuring imported clothing, jewelry and other accessories, will be closing at the end of the year, owner Bashir Mughal said.
In more than 35 years of business, he has served many customers who are looking for items with a special style. “Everything is imported,” Mughal said. “You don’t find these clothes at Sears or J.C. Penney. I have customers from St. Louis and Chicago who return here to shop once or twice a year.”
He calls Anna Jackson, longtime English teacher at Carbondale Community High School who now teaches at SIU Carbondale, “a very good customer” over the years.
But all good things must end, Mughal said, so he has reduced prices on his inventory and also is selling the store fixtures.
”I will be closing at the end of December,” he said. “Business has slowed because of the economy.” And, he added, “I’m getting old. I am now 75 years old,” and he’s ready to do some traveling.
A native of Pakistan, Mughal first arrived in Carbondale in 1969 with plans to study at SIUC. “But there were financial problems so I was unable to enroll. Instead, I went to New York and worked a year with a friend who owned a similar store. I decided to open my own store in Carbondale,” he said.
And, he added, the community has been very welcoming to him and his family.
His first storefront, located on South Illinois Avenue near Kaleidoscope (now Cristaudo’s), was destroyed by fire and he lost all his inventory. But he relocated to another downtown storefront, next door to Phoenix Cycles and remained there until 1981 when he moved to University Mall. The present location is near Macy’s and The Science Center.
“The mall management has been good to me,” he said. “Mall Manager Debbie Tindall has helped me out.”
In addition to the clothing and jewelry, the store displays colorful bedspreads with unique patterns.
“You can use them as bedspreads, or as tablecloths, or to cover a sofa,” Mughal noted. “We sell a lot of these to students.”
He and his wife, Rubeena, both worked in the store while raising their two daughters. The older daughter now lives in Chicago, the younger in Pakistan. The Mughals also have two grandchildren.
Carbondale was a good place to raise his daughters, he said, because even after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, “we had no problem with discrimination. The Carbondale area is very friendly.”
As a Muslim, Mughal is proud that Carbondale now has two mosques.
“The congregation of our mosque just spent $1.7 million to expand the building,” he said, adding that much of that money came from the Pakistani community.
One of Mughal’s first priorities after retiring will be to travel to Pakistan to visit his daughter’s family and other friends and relatives.
“But I then will be back in Carbondale,” he added. “It’s home now. I have good friends here. They are mostly from Pakistan, but I met them here.”