Though her favorite part of the day is making her customers smile, there are a few of them that Dana Mason has never even seen.
“I have a few customers that just trust me,” she said outside the Manhattan tennis store last week. “I have a customer in Chicago that has never even been in the store. I just know what she likes and we ship out boxes. She never sends anything back.”
Dana is VP of Mason’s Tennis Mart, one the few tennis goods stores in New York City, and a primary destination for U.S. Open products this year.
According to Dana, the Open brought “absolute insanity” to the store, but the place itself has been humming for the past 35 years, thanks to Dana’s father, Mark, who first opened the shop in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The boutique now sits comfortably in Midtown on the east side, just south of where many affluent New Yorkers live, and just north of many corporate offices, where Dana says many of her customers work.
“This is a perfect location for us,” she said, eyeing the store as midday traffic zips through the doors.
While her dad might be the tennis guru in the family business, Dana has always had an eye for fashion. As a young girl, she would hang around the store, but said her interest lay mostly in the clothes.
When her dad brought her on as a buyer seven years ago, Dana flourished in the position.
“I’m so lucky that my dad brought me into the business,” Dana said. “Picking out merchandise for the store and watching it come off the shelves, I love that. Those are my picks, and I love when the customers love them.”
Dana knows her tennis fashion: from Fred Perry to Fila, adidas, Nike, and Polo Ralph Lauren, Dana has dealt with the big guns of the tennis fashion world.
Which isn’t to say that this is all fun and games. Her biggest frustration?
“Not getting the players outfits! I can’t tell you how many people come in wanting Sharapova‘s dress or Roger‘s jackets. But those things just aren’t available. It makes me sad!”
Read more about Dana’s picks for what’s next in tennis fashion, who shops Mason’s and her tennis DON’T for on-court fashion.
“I just can’t do jewels,” Dana explained, a disgusted look on her face. “Tennis and jewels don’t mix. Not on the court, at least.”
Dana is opinionated for a reason: tennis fashion is her livelihood. Classic colors? “Yes.” Big collars? “Definitely.” Floral prints? “Absolutely not!” Skirts? “Short, tight and flirty!”
Dana wants big collars to be the next big thing in tennis, and she said she’d start with Serena, putting her in outfits that are more “figure flattering”
“Serena is a beautiful woman and I think I would put her in different cuts,” Dana ventured. “Maybe something with a higher neck to flatter her shoulders.”
While Serena hasn’t stopped into Mason’s recently, Dana says plenty of powerful New Yorkers make regular appearances at the store, including Katie Couric, a handful of Broadway actresses, Ralph Lauren‘s son, tennis fan Anna Wintour (via her assistant, of course) and Robert DeNiro.
What about Jill and Ramona from the Real Housewives, we wondered?
“Shockingly, no,” Dana said. “But, I would love to give them tennis make-overs because they wear things on the court that are very dated. I don’t know where they’re shopping for their clothing!”
Obviously not at Mason’s. The store did have visitors like Sorana Cirstea and Fernando Gonzalez during this year’s Open, though their appearances couldn’t match that of Guga Kuerten, when the Brazilian star visited the store years ago.
“Beautiful Brazilian women lined up outside!” Dana recalled. “I love my Brazilian customers! They’re so graceful and fashionable. And they love tennis.”
Just the way Dana likes her customers.
Fernando with Mark Mason at the store during this year’s Open.
(photos courtesy of mason’s tennis mart)