For 44 years, the mother-daughter run boutique Guys N Gals has thrived off its contemporary fashion finds and personable staff.
By Ri’An Jackson
Photography by Derrick Martinez
In today’s digital era where it’s much simpler to shop from the comfort of your couch than go to a physical store, it is more challenging for brick-and-mortar businesses to build consumer relationships. But, Guys N Gals keeps shopping personal for its customers.
At the 44-year-old local boutique, co-owned by Lois Levenson and daughter Julie Feldman, everyone from staff to shoppers are treated like family.
Levenson and friend Judy Michaels devised the idea for the store while at a barbecue. The pair, looking for an outlet to invest in, decided to become business partners.
Yet Levenson, 78, of West Bloomfield says getting into fashion was the “furthest thing from her mind.”
“At first we were going to go into the monogramming business,” she says. “And then we went to some (fashion) shows and decided to go into the clothing business instead.”
Before the boutique, she worked as an elementary school teacher for two and a half years.
“I loved teaching,” she says. “I was really good at it, (and) decided I did not want to go back to it because I wanted to devote more time to my kids.”
So, she traded chalkboards for runways. Levenson and Michaels opened the first Guys N Gals location in 1975 at an intimate 300-square-foot space in West Bloomfield Plaza.
As the store built up its reputation, they expanded. They moved to Crosswinds Mall (formerly known as Pine Lake Mall), then to Orchard Lake Mall— all on Orchard Lake Road.
Although Michaels backed out of the startup shortly after it expanded, Levenson taught herself how to run a business and got her four daughters involved. Julie Feldman, now 54, started working at the boutique when she was 11 years old and gradually became co-owner after she graduated college.
When it comes to clothing, Feldman says it can be difficult to keep up with ever-changing fashion trends. She turns to social media, bloggers, staff and customers for inspiration on clothing to carry in the store.
“Style is the first thing that attracts us (when choosing vendors),” Feldman says. “But then when you look at it in person you have to ask,‘Is the fabric good? Does it look cheap?’”
With merchandise fit for the whole family and any occasion, customers are attracted to the versatility of the store.
“It’s very fashion-forward,” says Stephanie Perry,48, of West Bloomfield Township.“The store serves both myself as well as my daughters…They sell everything from cutoff jean shorts to (attire for) cocktail events.”
Customers say the staff connects with them— acting like friends that help find clothing that makes them feel and look their best.
“Both Julie and her mom make sure to show me the things they think I should buy,” says longtime customer Pat Katchman of Bloomfield Hills. “And they’re honest. They tell me if it doesn’t look good on me.”
Working with charities like Jamie Daniels Foundation, giving back is a priority of the Guys N Gals team.
“We love fashion, and we love the community,” Feldman says. “We’ve been a part of this community for a long time. (Giving back) is really important to us because we feel like everybody’s been so good to us.”
Levenson adds that theylovebeing a part of memories.“Families come in and tell me things like ‘I got my daughters batmitzvah dress from you,’“ she says.“Those memories that we create just continue to be created.”
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Shop items from Guys N Gals on the SEEN Marketplace at seenthemagazine.com/store/guysngals.
Guys N Gals
6353 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield