Page 64


Page 62 September 28, 2012



Where to find the bargains this weekend

Dreaming of beach days ahead

Renee’s Fashions in Mattituck


ost local business owners wouldn’t consider a storewide remodel in the midst of a recession, but for family-owned and operated Renee’s Fashions in Mattituck, it was just what they needed. “It’s funny that in the worst of times, we’re thinking about a renovation, but it proved that it really helped a lot,” said Bill Gildersleeve, who has owned the shop with his wife, Debbie, since 1988. The Gildersleeves began renovating their 3,500 square foot store in January. “We came to a point where we needed to reinvent ourselves and improve to be really competitive in the marketplace,” Debbie said. “At first, we thought we’d just do some new paint, but that turned into a major renovation.” Renee’s Fashions has received a new cobblestone walkway, a freshly painted interior and a completely remodeled front entrance. “We just finished on Fourth of July weekend, and we never closed the store for a day,” she said. “We’re really happy with the results and the response.” Over the years, Renee’s Fashions has evolved from a woman’s boutique into a mix of men’s and woman’s formalwear, as well as women’s and children’s clothing and home furnishings. “It’s like a mini department store and it works really nicely,” Bill said. “What’s cool about it, is that all the different areas peak at different times.” Clothing was a natural fit for the Gildersleeves, but furniture, they say, was an accident. Debbie took

over her mother’s store, Renee’s Fashions, in 1985, after returning to Mattituck from New York, where she was a buyer for Lord & Taylor. Soon after, she and her husband decided to expand into menswear, and eventually absorbed her aunt’s children’s clothing store as well. “It was a fluke,” she said. “I’d buy furniture to display my jewelry on, and then all of a sudden people started asking to buy it.” They’ve since dedicated a huge portion of their showroom to furniture and decor items. “Home furnishings has

N. Chowske

By nicholas chowske

Bill and Debbie Gildersleeve

become a really big part of our business,” she said. “I’m going to every show, and we’re scouting out the best of the best.” Their ability to adapt to a changing marketplace has allowed the Gildersleeves to thrive. “There’s so much available to a customer now, whether it be an

outlet or online, and we have to separate ourselves in as many ways as possible,” Bill said. “You might save a little bit at an outlet, but you don’t know what you’re getting.” The shop offers alterations, layaway, giftwrapping, and design consultation. “There’s no real replacement for that human contact, and we do a lot of service things that the bigger stores don’t do.” Debbie said, “We do a lot of consulting, and I’ll go to peoples homes and give them a free consultation.” They’re also keeping the store open seven days a week, and extending their hours to 8 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. The Gildersleeves are always looking to the future, not just for their store, but for Mattituck and the North Fork. “The bottom line is, the area is becoming more sophisticated and people want something better, so we’re trying to upgrade, and we really want to meet the needs of people who are moving out here.” “The North Fork is changing pretty drastically,” Bill said. “It seems like people love coming east because it’s less stressful, and we’ve become one of their stops.” But no matter what changes may come, they plan to keep Renee’s Fashions a family-owned business. “To have a family-owned business that’s been here for almost 30 years, we feel like we have a real history. Hopefully, it will remain a family business, for at least another 30 years,” Debbie said.

Dans_BHThird_BH 5/3/12 2:42 PM Page 1

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Dan's Papers September 29, 2012  

Dan's Papers September 29, 2012 Issue

Dan's Papers September 29, 2012  

Dan's Papers September 29, 2012 Issue