By Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2020.
A downtown Lethbridge business is pitching in to help fellow downtown businesses thrive in what has been a tough year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As they head into their 50th year of service, Gentlemen III Menswear owner Jeremy Duchan has purchased $2,500 in gift cards to support not only five local restaurants, but five that serve the downtown area.
“A lot of my friends own restaurants and certainly there are a lot of great Lethbridge locally owned restaurants that didn’t have such positive news with the change in their regulations,” said Duchan. “We felt it was a good opportunity for us to put some good karma back into the community and, more than anything, to inspire people by demonstrating how important it is to shop local.
“When you come into my business and purchase something, we own our building. We’re locally owned and locally staffed and I want to take it another step further and give you a $25 gift card thanking you for coming down and using your hard-earned money in our store and then allowing you to go explore another great locally owned downtown business.
“There are hundreds of great, locally owned restaurants in Lethbridge, but we try to focus a lot of our efforts on the downtown core.”
As such, Gentlemen III chose Chef Stella Diner & Catering, The Penny Coffee House, Bread Milk and Honey, Mediterranean Mazza Bar And Western Food, and Lighthouse Japanese Restaurant with $500 going toward each business.
“We chose those five because we know them and we dine with them regularly,” said Duchan.
“We didn’t need to support them now. We support them all year long, but we feel maybe a lot of our customers don’t know who they are and haven’t been there or choose something else. We feel these restaurateurs put tons of hours, and at a time of year where it’s really important for them to succeed, their business is forcefully constrained. So I want to do what I can to help them.”
Gentlemen III is celebrating 50 years of business in Lethbridge, first opening Sept. 17, 1970.
The downtown business was started by Scotty Duchan — Jeremy’s father — Bert Eccles and Jim Spoulos, all of whom who worked at other men’s wear stores prior to teaming up.
Duchan said it was a tough summer for Gentlemen III, but the fall was a nice bounce back.
“Like a farmer in August, this is our harvest season,” he said. “We’re very fortunate the provincial regulations not only really didn’t impact us because of the 25 per cent occupancy, but they actually probably helped us because they provided the consumer with a bit of confidence, and we live in a world where consumer confidence matters the most. So they kind of justified our existence for a time of year that’s very important.”
The Gentlemen III Menswear’s gift card initiative started last Thursday.
“We’ve probably given away about 15 already (Friday). If we can give away 15 or 20 every day I’ll do this next week,” said Duchan, adding his business wasn’t handing out the gift cards for media attention or accolades. “We try to live every day based on good intentions and this was just one of those things. People are very thoughtful and they support local charities all the time and sometimes the ‘successful’ business doesn’t always get the support because people think ‘They must be fine.’
“The five places I chose, certainly from the outside, are quite successful on their own. But I talk to them all the time and it’s tough for them, too. So I really want to put my money where my mouth is and hopefully inspire people to do the same.”
The gift card push has already been generating business for the downtown restaurants.
“We had a customer and we talked to them about the Mediterranean restaurant in the ATB building,” said Duchan. “We asked them if they had ever been there before as we were giving her a certificate for something else. She said she hadn’t and asked what it was. We said it has wonderful donairs and she said she loved that kind of food.
“We gave her a certificate to go there, which I think is outstanding because she’s going to go experience a new, family owned restaurant that she hasn’t been to and ultimately that’s how we all stay alive in this business, by supporting each other and the more we can inspire each other to not to spend their money in Calgary or not cross the border into Montana and keep their money home, the more we can do everything possible to grow the economic pie here in Lethbridge.”
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