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April 09, 2009 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-04-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL

entrepreneur

Customer Minded

Service keeps
Guys N Gals humming
after 35 years.

Art Aisner

Special to the Jewish News

L

ois Levenson started her business with a
few simple philosophies: Offer merchandise
the others don't have and stay committed to

your customers.
The mindset has served her and West Bloomfield

fixture Guys N Gals well for nearly 35 years and

couldn't be more important in an economic downturn.
At a time when small businesses and big-box
retailers are struggling and shuttering, Guys N Gals

continues to turn over merchandise by drawing cus-
tomers of all ages to its 3,500 square-foot boutique

in Orchard Mall.

"We're very lucky, and we always are focused
on what people who come here need," Levenson

recently said as she helped patrons navigate through

the dozens of racks replete with dresses, blouses,
jeans and more. "You've got to focus on your loyal
customers because that's what it is today. That's

what will keep you going."
Her wisdom comes from firsthand experience.

Following through on a friend's suggestion,

Levenson, at 34, started the retail-fashion business
from scratch in the basement of her West Bloomfield
home in 1974. She had four daughters and longtime

friend and business partner Judy Michaels had three
sons — which became the inspiration for store's

name. Their goal was to offer different and emerging

styles that excited them and would be unique among
area merchants at the time.
With no entrepreneurial know-how at a time when

few women launched small businesses, the former

schoolteacher relied on her outgoing personality and
nurturing skills to win customers over.

"Working with children and their parents definitely
helped me communicate and relate to people when
they came in unsure of what they needed," Levenson

said. "It was all word of mouth. We weren't advertising;
people just liked what we offered and they liked us."

Growing Pains

Though working from home helped establish a per-

sonalized shopping experience, customer demand

p ho tos by Ang ie Boon

— and an impending ordinance violation from the
township — forced Levenson to relocate to a 300-
square-foot "walk-in closet" of a store off Orchard

Lake Road, just south of Maple.
They quickly expanded and moved again to
what was then Pine Lake Mall (now Crosswinds) off

Orchard at Pine Lake Road. After a brief flirtation

CUSTOMER MINDED on page A32

Julie Feldman-Unatin and Lois Levenson

2009

A31

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