This week from reWorking Michigan, our Monday report looks at a local business that has moved within the walls of another business.
Leon G Jewelry moved from East Lansing into the Kositchek’s men’s clothing store in downtown Lansing four years ago. It’s an unusual arrangement in Lansing.
Soft music greets customers when they enter Kositchek’s to shop for clothing or shoes or get a hairstyling in the salon. It’s indicative of the comfort owner David Kositchek and Leon G Jewelry owner Gary Geisen share in doing business with each other.
Kositchek knew Leon G Jewelry founder Leon Gudelsky, and he also had developed a friendship with Geisen, who bought Gudelsky’s store in 1981.
Kositchek describes the arrangement as a marriage of businesses with similar visions of customer service. He didn’t want just any jeweler, and it wasn’t meant solely to collect rent income.
Options include more than just clothing
Having a fine jeweler inside a men’s clothing store gives customers an appealing shopping option that Kositchek likes.
“It makes your store more interesting, number one,” Kositchek states, “and we are in the gift-giving business as well as taking care of people’s immediate needs. What better gift than beautiful jewelry for the lady or for a gentleman?”
Once the notion of moving from East Lansing to a block from the state capitol was raised, it took a couple of years of thinking and planning before Geisen agreed.
“Business was going well,” Geisen recalls. “I had no intentions of moving. In fact, it took me a little bit to say let’s do it. Our business ethics and how we run business were very similar. The comfort was there. When you move a business, though, you never know if your existing customers are going to follow you. I’ve been blessed that they have been.”
Geisen sent out a mailer to his customers alerting them to the move, and being able to keep the same telephone number helped others find the new Leon G location after closing the former store in November of 2008.
Leon G now occupies about 400 square feet inside the 9,000 square foot Kositchek’s.
Geisen says his monthly rent bill went down with the move, and while business isn’t off the charts…the downturn in the economy being a factor…he’s pleased with the result.
“We’re meeting new customers every day,” Geisen says. “David and I knew we had a few existing customers that we shared, so we knew that would make it a little bit more easy for them as well, but over the three-plus years that I’ve been down here, I’ve picked up some new customers from David.”
For his part, Kositchek says it has worked the other way around too.
“Leon G Jewelers has gained traffic from our store, and we have gained traffic from people that came in to have their watch repaired or their ring cleaned,” Kositchek states. “They see a shirt or they see a suit or a tie. So, there’s a significant crossover.”
Kositchek sells men’s clothing, but he thinks having an on-site jewelry store has given more couples and women a reason to spend time and money there.
“They’re already here, they’ve already parked their car, they’re enjoying themselves,” explains Kositchek. “While the husband is, perhaps, buying a suit, the lady is relaxed and she wanders over into the jewelry department, much to the husband’s chagrin, and finds a beautiful pair of earrings or a ring that she just has to have before she leaves.”
There’s been a Kositchek’s store in this Washington Avenue location for more than 140 years. Leon G Jewelry had built its own reputation with a 42 year history in a prime spot on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing. David Kositchek and Gary Geisen hope that by uniting their histories and the cachet of their names, they’ll have many more years of success…together.
reWorking Michigan examines our evolving economy, as citizens of the Great Lake State explore new ways to make a living and build a future for their families. A project of WKAR NewsRoom, WKAR-TV and WKAR Online.