MANCHESTER, NH – This year marks 30 years since owner George Angelopoulos, 92, acted on his passion to open a distinctively unique boutique tuxedo retail store with a mission to provide quality products and personal service to his customers.
From the start, identifying himself as being “in the people business,” Angelopoulos did things a little differently than other retail businessmen might do. When he purchased the business from former owner John Gravis, he formally sealed the deal with a handshake, which is a story that over time has been woven into the legacy of George’s Apparel.
What has changed since then? General manager Holly Auger, who has been with the company for 30 years, says, “Although the company has modernized many of our services with better products, new equipment and ways we’re communicating with our customers, there’s one thing that has never changed – the belief in the power of exceptional personalized service, which is something that retail giants like Amazon and eBay simply can’t compete with.”
Throughout the years, George’s Apparel has built a solid reputation within the state. The store was voted “Best Menswear in New Hampshire” by New Hampshire Magazine, and “Best of New Hampshire for Tuxedos” by the Union Leader for the past three years and has also earned the Union Leader’s Readers’ Choice Award for 17 consecutive years.
The store offers apparel ranging from tuxedos, suits, sports coats, pants and ties from top-label designers such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Hart Schaffner Marx and others. Just one of the many perks of shopping at George’s Apparel: customers receive free suit alterations for life.
While retail analysts have been touting trends that indicate more and more people are doing their shopping online, there is still a vital service a small local company like George’s Apparel can provide its customers. Although shoppers can buy a suit or tuxedo online, often times it still needs to be fitted and sized which is something most online providers either cannot do or do well.
Another distinction that separates George’s Apparel from other local and online competitors is their flexibility to meet their customers’ needs in special circumstances requiring rush services free of charge, which is virtually unheard of with online providers.
This practice was tested when newly-elected Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig’s father-in-law, Louis Craig, arrived in New Hampshire to attend the recent mayoral ball. Craig said he was referred to George’s Apparel because of their local reputation as being the best place in Manchester for a tuxedo and fitting. He was not disappointed. Craig said the staff was especially accommodating during such a busy time for their family, which made his visit to New Hampshire more enjoyable and stress-free. Craig said he was “very impressed with the excellent service George’s Apparel provided and would highly recommend them for their superior professional and personalized service that enabled him to focus on one of the most important moments in the Craig family history.”
The sounds swirling around the cluster of busy seamstresses who have been employed with the company for decades can’t be heard from the main showroom, but as soon as you get halfway down the lower level you can hear the soft buzz of sewing machines humming in unison and, at times, stopping for an intermittent solo. What has kept employees at the company for so long? Assistant manager Jamie Gillingham, who’s been employed at George’s Apparel for 12 years, says that upper management has shown what company loyalty really means. The staff treats one another as family, and continue to stick together as they’ve had to adapt to changing consumer shopping trends.
“We appreciate the proactive ways our company has met these challenges head-on by consistently demonstrating an on-going commitment to ensure our customers will experience the highest quality local shopping experience available, Gillingham says. “This is why we have been in business for such a long time. People trust us and trust our reputation.”
As George and his staff celebrate their 30-year anniversary, they’ve taken this opportunity to reflect on the thousands of local Manchester residents with whom they’ve shared many special life events. As a proud landmark of the Manchester community, the company readily gives back by going the extra mile for their customers in any way they can.
“When a customer endures the loss of a loved one, our staff will bend over backwards to meet the most delicate needs of our clients. Many times we have serviced these customers for years and have been fortunate to share in many of their life’s milestones, including high school proms, weddings and Christenings. Although the standard turnaround time is two weeks for a suit alteration, there have been countless times we have turned around a customer request within hours to accommodate a fitting so a customer can attend a funeral,” Gillingham says. “This is something an online store would not do for anyone, so we embrace these opportunities to give back to our customers when they need it the most.”
Not only is providing excellent products and services paramount to the company’s success, by embracing digital communications the company understands these efforts will help provide more creative, engaging and environmentally responsible ways to do business.
Auger says this involves a targeted push to build a strong social media presence. She says the company intends on using social media as a primary communication tool in 2018 and will be directing all their customers to their Facebook page to announce in-store promotions, industry tips and company news alerts.
Although owner and World War II veteran George Angelopoulos is retired, he still makes occasional appearances at the Elm Street store and is always cheerful and eager to greet guests. At every opportunity he reflects on the importance of keeping the power of the handshake a practice alive in daily business, and not just encased in a fixture on a wall, forgotten and collecting dust.
Says Auger, “One thing that will always be a part of the business culture here at George’s Apparel is our commitment to making our customers feel the power of personalized care each and every time they visit our shop. We want them to feel confident that they can always expect to be greeted with a warm smile and the level of superior service that cannot be found online or in other competitors showrooms.”