After More than 30 Years in Business, Owner of Rare Essentials, Essentials for Men to Sell Entire Inventories and Close Doors

May 18, 2015

HANOVER, N.H. – The owner of two local retail mainstays, Rare Essentials and Essentials for Men, said today that she will sell both businesses’ entire inventories and close their doors.

“Someone once said, ‘Nothing lasts forever. That’s the easiest lesson we all learn in the hardest way.’ They were absolutely right. I’ve loved every day of work for nearly 35 years, but you can’t do something or be the same forever,” Lynn Kochanek said. “It’s a tough decision, but it’s really time to move on. It’s very, very sad for me, but this is the time to do it.”

Kochanek and her husband, Walter, opened the original Rare Essentials women’s clothing store in Brattleboro, Vt., in 1981. He suffered a heart attack and died on Dec. 29. Walter’s father had passed away only eight days earlier.

Rare Essentials specializes in high fashion clothing and shoes, featuring many European labels. Essentials for Men offers some contemporary Italian brands but focused more on traditional menswear. Both stores will be open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale.

We’ve known most of our customers for years, even generations. We’ve been there as they’ve prepared for some of the biggest milestone events of their lives,” Kochanek said. “They are like family. They’ve been so loyal and supportive, and they’ve blessed me with so many wonderful memories. That’s why it’s so important to me that we make this difficult move with as much integrity and care as possible.”

Kochanek had been a merchandise buyer for a department store before she and Walter moved to New Hampshire when he became the chief financial officer at the Experiment in International Living (EIL) and School for International Trading.

“Walter was an accountant and a finance guy. He worked as the controller at Rhode Island College and then as the chief financial officer at Cornell Veterinary College before we moved here. We felt that the area was under-retailed and I wanted to use my professional skills so we made the decision to open our first store in Brattleboro,” Kochanek said. “I couldn’t have been happier.”

Within three years, Walter Kochanek had left his position at EIL and was working full-time in the clothing business.

“We knew we were in for some difficult challenges, combining a new marriage and a new business, but we approached it from an intellectual, rather than emotional, point of view. We both had our clearly defined roles. He let me do my thing, I let him do his, and it worked out very, very well for us,” Kochanek said.

The Kochaneks ultimately opened and operated 13 stores with 60 employees — including businesses in Concord, Bedford, West Lebanon, Hanover and Keene, N.H., and Brattleboro and Rutland, Vt. — before deciding 11 years ago to begin scaling back.

Kochanek has led “dress for success” courses for a major East Coast University since 2010, but is intent on caring for both stores’ clients before deciding the next chapter of her life. “Walter and I were married for 37 years and in business together for 35 years. You couldn’t ask for more than that. One door closes and another opens,” Kochanek said.

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After 27 Years in Eastridge Village, Leibowitz Menswear Moves to East Hills Mall as Owner Prepares for Strong Future

May 4, 2015

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Leibowitz Fine Menswear, one of the city’s century-plus businesses, is making a move to a new home after 27 years in Eastridge Village, owner Mark Antle said today.

“It’s the right time, really. We have a wonderful new opportunity to go to the mall. It’s a healthy retail environment and it’s a good move for us,” Antle said. “My son, Myles, is 27 and he’s in the business. We’re not looking back; we’re looking forward and asking, ‘What are we going to be doing five and 10 years from now?'”

The store, located at 3831 Frederick Ave., Eastridge Village, is holding a moving sale that opens to the public on Thursday in preparation for its new setting on an outside spot in the East Hills Mall. The current location will be open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale.

The clothier has been a retail fixture in St. Joseph since Joe and Ester Leibowitz opened in the downtown in October 1912. It was one of the last retailers to leave the downtown shopping district in the 1980s when it moved to Eastridge Village.

At the time, Antle noted, Eastridge Village was the home to a number of retailers, including two men’s stores, two women’s stores and a jeweler. Over the years, it has become a more service-based location with professional offices taking center stage.

“We’re also tucked back in a corner. Our business has been great because we continue to be a destination for shoppers, especially our long-time customers, but a move to East Hills is right for so many reasons,” Antle said. “There’s plenty of parking, strong foot traffic and it will give us much better visibility so we can be more easily seen and introduce ourselves to a whole new group of customers.”

Leibowitz, which has long been recognized as the region’s leading men’s clothing store, specializes in a number of business, dress and casual brands often not available at big box stores. Its new location is designed to create an inviting environment

“I’ve talked to a number of guys with independent clothing stores like ours. We have to practically reinvent ourselves all the time to keep up with customer expectations,” he said. “Customers do expect more from us and they should. We have some great plans for the future. I’m excited.”

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