BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL
Guys N Gals humming
after 35 years.
Special to the Jewish News
ois Levenson started her business with a
few simple philosophies: Offer merchandise
the others don't have and stay committed to
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."
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