A downtown clothing store celebrates decades in business this year by continuing its family tradition of customer service.
Saul’s, located at 100 Main St. SW, was established 70 years ago by Bill and Gussie Schrage. Their son, Lorry Schrage, continues the family business today. Saul’s is still located on Gainesville’s square, though it has moved to a couple of different locations in its 70 years.
Schrage has worked in Saul’s full time since 1970 and now owns it.
Schrage said Saul’s has been so successful for so long because of the clothing store’s customers.
"There are very few people that come into my store that I wouldn’t have in my living room," he said.
A personal relationship with the customers is just one of the traits Schrage said is important to the success of any business. Schrage explained that his parents used to keep a particular type of dress in stock just because a certain customer liked that design. His parents did that to satisfy their customer, Schrage said.
Another factor of Saul’s success has been the owners’ involvement in the community.
Joe Burnett, executive director of Gainesville’s Main Street program, said Bill and Gussie Schrage were leaders in the business community, a role their son, Lorry, took over when he took over the business.
"Bill and Gussie Schrage played a leadership role in the merchant community in Gainesville from the earliest days," Burnett said. "After Lorry took over the business, he’s played a leadership role in the community, not only downtown, but throughout the whole community."
Burnett cited a few examples of Schrage’s leadership — serving with the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce as well as various other clubs and boards he has served on.
Earlier this year, Saul’s also became involved in the Soles4Souls organization, collecting gently worn shoes to donate to the charity that distributes shoes to those in need worldwide. Customers who donated shoes at the store received a discount on a new pair at Saul’s during the February shoe drive.
Saul’s also is celebrating its birthday by holding a special sale this month. Some items are 70 percent off, to match the clothing store’s 70th year, through Sept. 30.