Every business you buy from and visit has a culture, whether the business creates it intentionally or unintentionally. Lefler’s in Russellville, one of five in Arkansas, boasts of three things: customer service, family and a passion for making women look and feel great.
The beginning of Lefler’s is as enchanting as their culture. “Our retail background actually began at the turn of the century with my great-grandfather operating a general store in Clinton,” said Lefler’s owner, Marty Lefler. “Roy, my father, bought the store from his uncle who owned it at that time. What then grew to a second location in Conway that focused on women’s clothing and accessories started the direction that we have now and has grown to five locations.”
“The Russellville story really began in the late forties when my father enrolled at Arkansas Tech after WWII where he met my mother, Carolyn Griffin. The story goes, he told her on their first date he was going to marry her. She told him he was crazy. Fortunately for us, she ended up doing just that,” added Lefler.
However, it was after Marty Lefler graduated from college and was brought into the family business that they began looking at adding a third location, and Russellville was the target. They had an opportunity to open with Estee Lauder in Russellville and decided to remodel the previous Croom’s building location downtown on Commerce.
As 2000 neared, the Lefler family had the opportunity to be one of the first boutiques in Arkansas to add a Clinique counter, and they moved to the City Mall to make their location “more appealing to the Clinique company.” This spring, after the violent windstorm damaged their location in the rear of the mall they moved to the front, to the spot previously held by the Copper Pig.
Even though the employees who’ve worked at Lefler’s through the years don’t share the last name of the store, they are definitely related by association. “In our store we are like a family, and when we talk to the ladies at the other stores it’s like talking to one of our favorite girlfriends — we are one big family,” said store manager, Gail Anthes.
Anthes found her beginning with the Russellville Lefler’s by being in the right place at the right time. “I was in the store one day and heard that one of their employees had been ill, and the manager at the time was saying that she needed help and hadn’t been able to find anybody,” said Anthes.
Anthes offered to work a few days a week greeting customers and showing them products, and now, 13 years later, she is known by many as a staple of the store.
When the previous manager was ready to settle into retirement, Anthes’ transition into the role of manager was as simple as Lefler saying “please, Gail!” As they say, the rest is history.
The women who work at Lefler’s in Russellville are much more than just a group of women selling clothes and makeup, though. They treat their customers, who’ve become more like family to them, like girlfriends and sisters. “It’s not just shopping. We consider ourselves friends to our clientele. We try to know everyone by name. We’re representing 50 years of tradition and a business whose focus has always been customer service,” said Anthes.
Having a local, small business selling brands such as Brighton, Hobo and Estee Lauder and Clinique cosmetics is an asset to the community, and they don’t take that lightly. “We go to trainings and seminars for both Estee Lauder and Clinique and our Brighton rep works with us regularly to keep us up to date. Also, by having five store locations, we can communicate with them if a customer needs a garment or product and we are out,” said Anthes.
It has taken many years of entrepreneurial spirit, tenacity and vision to reach the incredible legacy Lefler’s has, and Lefler himself, could not be more humble or gracious about it. “We are so thankful for our customer’s response to our new location and are appreciative of the support from our mall neighbors and the owners (the McCarley Family) and management (Pro-Team Realtors) of the property,” said Lefler.
To learn more about brands from all price points or about the Estee Lauder gift with purchase during the month of September, visit Lefler’s in the City Mall. You can also visit Lefler’s in Conway, Harrison, Searcy and Batesville.