Heinz & Martha Ellrod, 60 and 47
Polaris Fashion Place Outdoor Lifestyle Center
You are an upscale men's and women's clothing and accessories store that has been in Central Ohio for nearly 30 years. What has made you so successful?
Martha: We try to carry exclusive lines, and our main focus is customer service. Our customers are very loyal. They call, we pull a rack, put them in a dressing room.... All they have to do is call and we'll have it ready.
Heinz: I think it's customer service. I think it's also exclusivity. Our customers know they're not going to go to a party and see themselves in the same dress.
You offer an array of men's suits and also do a lot of custom work. What types of items can men have custom made?
Heinz: We offer anything made-to-measure from shirts, suits, pants, coats.... Anything to do with clothing, we pretty much custom make.
Martha: We even have our own tailors here.
You are thrilled that after a heavy push toward casual work wear, people are dressing up again. Why?
Heinz: I think dressing up makes you feel better. I think it's self-esteem.
How many suits do you own?
Heinz: It's funny. It's like working in a candy store. You get to a point where you just have enough.... I have a dozen or 15 suits. But I think being in this profession, people expect me to have a lot more.
Martha: He always looks nice, I can tell you that!
You first opened as a men's store. What prompted you to start carrying women's clothing?
Martha: Women were asking, "Why don't you do something like the men's?"
Heinz: I wasn't comfortable in women's. I figured I would give her 600 square feet. It would be like a hobby for her... And it turned out to be a very, very good business.
Martha: I sound like some dumb wife who had nothing to do! I have worked all my life, and I do have a college degree. And I did work in women's clothing.
You opened on Lane Ave., moved to the Worthington mall for 22 years, and then recently relocated here. How do you like your new digs?
Heinz: We love it.
Martha: We're so happy to be here.... I love coming to work every day. It's so nice to be surrounded by beauty.
You also give back. Can you talk about how?
Martha: We try to do little charity events. We'll do champagne and wine. We've benefited hospice. We've benefited the humane society. And because we live in the community, we like to give back to the community.
Why do you love your job?
Heinz: I love the challenges of the business. I love buying. I love selling. And most of all, I love the clients. (Also) we've been married 16 years and together 25 years. We enjoy working together.
Martha: I think if we didn't work together, it wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't be the same for our clients, either. Plus, we couldn't bring the dog to work!