Larrimor’s in Pittsburgh celebrates 80 years making the city fashionable
Larrimor’s has been dressing Pittsburghers for eight decades.
The high-end designer men’s and women’s clothing and accessories Downtown boutique continues to survive the challenges of brick-and-mortar retail stores because one thing hasn’t changed in 80 years.
“It has always been about customer service,” said Lisa Slesinger, whose grandfather Harry Slesinger started the company with business partner Larry Morris (whose name, mashed up, became the store’s name).
Her father, Carl Slesinger, continued that family connection and brought Lisa Slesinger to the retail world at Larrimor’s, a store she now co-owns with Tom Michael, her former husband.
“There are so many options for people to buy online and at other stores,” Lisa Slesinger said. “My parents and grandparents taught me to not only take care of the big things, but the little things as well.”
She hopes that way of thinking will garner support on Shop Small Business Saturday as well as at the Sip, Shop & Support event on Sunday.
The Sunday event is a boutique crawl that kicks off shopping Downtown on Sundays for the holiday season where 10% of sales from some stores will be donated to the Homeless Children’s Education Fund. The fund advances the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
Larrimor’s is committed to giving back to the city since it opened its doors, Lisa Slesinger said, which was instilled in her by those who came before her.
Her father and grandfather would greet customers by name.
“Carl Slesinger always came over to say ‘Hello,’ ” said Yvonne Cook of Wilkins, president of the Highmark Foundation, who has been a customer over 30 years.
“As a specialty store, Larrimor’s works hard and has the freedom to bring to Pittsburgh brands that you may not get elsewhere,” said Cook, whose mother inspired in her daughter a passion for shopping. “Today, I work closely with my stylist Michelle Pacis, receiving a personal greeting from Tom Michael and talking fashion with Lisa Slesinger and the rest of the fabulous Larrimor’s team.
”I still believe in dressing for success and the role it plays in creating your brand. I don’t have the time nor do I want to shop online, so I rely upon small business retailers like Larrimor’s to offer a variety of clothes that speak to my brand.”
That one-on-one service is a reason Larrimor’s has transcended time, said Audrey Guskey, professor of marketing at Duquesne University and a consumer trends expert. She calls the business “an iconic staple,” one she remembers as a youngster.
“It’s a classy place,” Guskey said. “They go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. They’ve got a tradition there that’s been handed down for generations.”
The employees even feel like family.
Raymond Harney, a sales associate since 1981, said he enjoys working at Larrimor’s because of the welcoming atmosphere.
“It has a lot of history in Pittsburgh,” he said. “You can have a great restaurant, but if you don’t have a great chef, people won’t come back. They have both the great ‘restaurant’ and the great ‘chef.’”
Some of the women’s lines include Lafayette 148, St. John, Escada, 360 Cashmere, Tahari and Akris Punto.
For the men, choices include Peter Millar, Robert Graham, Hickey Freeman, Allen Edmonds and Atelier Munro, a company based in Amsterdam that creates custom suits, shirts, shoes and jeans. Michael said this latest customization for every component of an outfit “is part of the future of fashion,” even though Larrimor’s has offered custom clothing for years.
“Every garment you buy can be customized — your shoes, your jeans, your chinos, your pants, your shirts, your sport coats, your suits, your tie, your belt,” Michael said. “We develop a fit profile for you and the garment comes in unique for you, customized for you.”
Larrimor’s also has tailors to make sure the garment feels made for the customer.
Special 👏 to Larrimor’s and Atelier Munro for helping outfit the squad for Party in the Paint!
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) October 11, 2019
Slesinger handles the buying, traveling throughout the country learning about the latest fashion trends.
“Retail has evolved and you have to evolve with it,” she said. “You have to continually be adding new items and offer a mix of brands. My grandfather and his business partner took a risk and it’s paid off.”
The store spent many years in the Union Trust Building before moving to Fifth Avenue at Wood Street in 2010.
Slesinger said the Larrimor’s customer still likes to shop in a store and try on merchandise with the expertise of a knowledgeable sales associate.
Sam Kennedy, a partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers in the U.S. Steel Tower, said Larrimor’s pays attention to detail and the sales associates know his name.
“I feel so comfortable there,” said Kennedy, of Fox Chapel. “Sometimes I just stop in to say ‘Hi.’ I might see the guy who shines shoes or visit with the tailors. They have such great tailors, and that is rare. Everyone in the store lets you know when new merchandise comes in. They also help you know which pieces in your wardrobe are best to be kept and which are best to donate. They are forward thinking when it comes to the latest styles.”
Larrimor’s remains the place where customer loyalty is still in fashion and valued, Cook said.
“They offer excellent, personalized customer service,” she said. “And their love and commitment to giving back to the community by hosting fundraising events and supporting worthy causes is greatly appreciated.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, [email protected] or via Twitter .