To all of our customers who visited our headquarters store over the years, I am grateful to you. But this fall, our 20th anniversary, we’ve closed the headquarters store, converting its space over to conference rooms, while opening a store in the nearby shopping mall, Town Center at Boca Raton. I have to admit, the move feels a lot like sending our first-born off to college (which we did last fall), namely, bittersweet.
Ever since we moved to Delray Beach from Boston 18 years ago, we’ve had a store in our headquarters. It was tiny at first. A half-height wall separated “the store” from the desks of our few employees. If a customer actually came in, one of us not on the phone with another customer would get up and try to help. Often we formed rewarding relationships engendered by face-to-face discussions about how customers worked and how Levenger tools might help.
When we built our own warehouse and headquarters building in 1994, the store got big and even looked like a store with counters, cash registers, and full-time salespeople. The store doubled in size a few years later when we doubled our headquarters.
It housed both a first-quality “regular” store, as well as an outlet for our returns. One of the popular attractions of the outlet was the “pre-monogrammed” leather goods, which were priced shockingly low, and where many a customer came in regularly to search for his or her initials.
We grew to a point, however, where we needed to move beyond our headquarters. In order to ship faster and cheaper, we moved our warehouse to Memphis. (Head north and west, of Delray and stop after about a thousand miles.). We also moved our customer service and our computers there to be out of the path of the frequent hurricanes besetting Florida.
Moving our store out of headquarters, likewise, allows us to serve South Florida shoppers better—by being in a popular mall where it’s convenient to shop, rather than in an office park.
I’m proud to see Levenger in prime retail space. But a bit sad, too.
Gone are the messages that such-and-such customer from California or Venezuela is here and wants to say hello. Gone are the days when we could just run down the hall to the store to check on a product or buy a gift. Now, just as our customers do, we drive to the mall.
It’s all part of growing up, I guess, with its attendant advantages and disadvantages. Our son, I’m happy to report, is doing well at college, having made numerous new friends.
And it’s my hope that no matter how spread out Levenger becomes, no matter how many stores we open, that new friendships will flourish between Levenger staff members and the wonderful people who become Levenger customers.
Relationships are what will always be what’s at heart. That’s a lesson they should teach in college.