Online shopping hasn’t hurt Hersh’s, the bricks-and-mortar luxury women’s boutique owned by Harold Rothenberg in West Bloomfield.
Featured photo by Derrick Martinez
By Susan Peck, Special to the Jewish News
Fashion industry trends change at the speed of light, but there is one local constant force — Harold Rothenberg, owner of Hersh’s Inc., the family-run, luxury women’s boutique located at The Boardwalk in West Bloomfield.
Rothenberg founded the clothing store in 1984 and has been a permanent fashion influencer in his store every day since. “Our boutique brings in unique clothing for our clientele, not available in department stores and other retailers,” Rothenberg, 59, of Farmington Hills, says. “We make sure women shopping with us are getting exactly what they are looking for — even if we have to go online to do a special order. And, more importantly, we treat every woman who walks through our door like a best friend.”
Rothenberg says that some of his loyal customers come in often to visit with him and his staff, which includes his wife, Caryn, 59, and daughter Jessica Friedman, 30. “It’s a place to kibbitz and check out the latest fashions. We talk about everything, like the latest good movies to see or a new restaurant opening,” Rothenberg says. “One of our customers says her husband calls Hersh’s her ‘rent-a-friend’ because she likes to come in almost weekly to spend time with us.”
Rothenberg was brought up in fashion retailing — his mother owned Just Marilyn’s boutique in Southfield but has been retired for more than 30 years. “I learned about the business from my mother and got my first job selling women’s shoes at Jonathon’s in Southfield when I was just 15 years old,” he says.
“When I opened Hersh’s, my business philosophy never revolved around being a financial success,” he adds. “I only wanted to wake up every day doing what I love and to be able to give back to the world.”
Giving to his community is a priority, and Rothenberg never passes up a chance to donate to a charity. “Whether it’s for breast cancer survivors, local schools, an event affiliated with Temple Israel or any other good cause, I donate equally to all of them,” he says.
Keeping abreast of current clothing retail business trends has been more of an issue recently for the boutique. They are competing with the popularity of online shopping, but Rothenberg says his customers still like to see, feel and try on clothing in person before buying.“We personally style our customers from top to bottom with an expert but honest eye, never selling something just to make a sale,” he says.
Longtime customer Jennifer Fantich, 36, of Bloomfield Hills is committed to shopping local and says Hersh’s has all the essential pieces, suited to her budget, to build her wardrobe each season. “I also love their new home goods department, where I’ve found stylish pieces at very reasonable prices to decorate my home,” she says.
The home goods and shoe department were added when the boutique expanded in January 2019. “It makes it more of a one-stop shop for our customers where you can finish your outfit with the perfect shoes and pick up a hostess gift if you’re going to a holiday party,” Rothenberg says.
Friedman has brought a breath of fresh air and some new ideas since she started working at the boutique five years ago, her father says.
“We’re integrating technology and using things like FaceTime to communicate with our customers who travel frequently, to help them shop remotely before they come in,” Freidman says. “And I’m taking charge of our social media presence, posting more content all the time.”
Trunk shows with evening wear collections from designers like Wayne Clark, Frascara, Emmelle, Mi Jong Lee and others with contemporary everyday wear are also part of its ongoing modern business plan.
Even though he’ll be 60 on his next birthday, Rothenberg says there are no plans for his retirement. “My retirement will be the day I die,” he says. “And then I picture my daughter and any grandchildren I may have taking on the business and carrying on this wonderful family legacy.”
Hersh’s Inc. is at 6895 Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield, between 14 and 15 Mile roads.