By Jacob Herbert
Clinton Country Chatter
In 1936, Al Rehmann realized a dream when he was finally able to open up his very own clothing store. Originally from Austria, Al Rehmann made his way to Chicago with his brothers and began working at a suit factory.
Eventually, Al Rehmann decided is was time to open his own store and left Chicago for Michigan. After driving around Michigan for awhile he settled on the town of St. Johns and thus Rehmann’s Clothing was born.
It might be unusually tough for a small business to stick around for 79 years with not only all the ups and down the economy has gone through, but also having to compete with the Men’s Wearhouses and Macy’s of the world.
“The difference between us and those stores,” said fifth-generation owner Brad Rehmann. “is that all they care about is the selling, here we know everything about our product so we are able to give you quality service.”
Rehmann’s prides themselves on quality service and competitive prices. They believe that incorporating those tactics into their business is what keeps people coming back. Rehmann’s has a computer system they use that allows them to look up near 5,000 names up former shoppers to get the exact size of you are of any piece of clothing you may need.
Bonnie Knutson, a Professor of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University says there are three factors that contribute to how a small business is able to stick around for so long; quality product and service, personalization and quality product.
“They must have been able to develop something unique with their customers,” said Knutson. “some customers are willing to drive 30-40 extra minutes because of the loyalty they have been able to develop with their customers.”
For a small business like Rehmann’s, one might think it would be typically hard to get their name out there. However according to Brad Rehmann, word of mouth has been one of the ways Rehmann’s has been able to stick around for almost eight decades.
“If you have a friend who tells you about our store, you might have never heard of us unless that friend that you trust tells you about us,” said Brad Rehmann.
Of course, it wasn’t all that easy for Rehmann’s to get their name out there. There had to be plenty of hard work put in in order to be where the store is today. Brad Rehmann says the clothing store has been attending bridal shows as a way to get their name out to the public.
According to Brad Rehmann, the Downtown St. Johns area has been very beneficial to the Men’s clothing store.
“Business in this town really care about helping one another.” said Brad Rehmann.
Rehmann says that often other business around town will end up referring their customers to Rehmann’s and vice versa.
With a little bit of hard work and a little bit of help from others, Rehmann’s Clothing has been able to keep Al Rehmann’s dream alive for 79 years.