When you run a small business, your number one goal is to find a way to be profitable. Balancing demands of time, expenses and promotion, as well the challenge of showing why your products and/or services are different than the competition’s, the small business operator juggles a lot to make it all work.
For a frum small business owner, there’s one other primary goal that requires regular attention. That goal is to act in ways that create a Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of God’s name, so that their work inspires positive feelings for Yiddishkeit in general and for Jews who are publically observant.
Fortunately for the frum communities of Middlesex County, there are Torah-observant Jews who run small businesses in the area who are serious about being a Kiddush Hashem. Here is one example.
Sharon Garber, a resident of Highland Park and member of Congregation Ohav Emeth, opened her storefront business, Covered Girl Clothing, on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park to provide a local solution to a problem facing many observant women—where could they find clothes for themselves and their daughters that are both modest and attractive, without spending hours traveling?
Sharon does not see her business as a “Jewish” establishment but rather as a store run by a Jewish person, which meets the needs of people in many communities. She welcomes everyone who visits the store and treats them with equal fairness and consideration. And she steers clear of “hard sells”; if an outfit doesn’t complement a customer, she will not offer false flattery.
Sharon devotes a lot of effort to make sure Jews of all Hashkafot and denominations feel welcome in the store. She is pleased to see an increase in support of the business in the Jewish community and has set up a loyalty program that now exceeds 1000 customers.
Sharon also takes pride in the significant share of her clientele that come from outside the Jewish community, such as members of Jehovah’s Witnesses and of religious Hispanic families. She sees this as evidence that her efforts to be a Kiddush Hashem are consistent and visible.
A few years ago a Muslim woman came into the store with her teenage daughter and the daughter was thrilled with the selection. The mother was pleased as well with the choices and the prices and asked Sharon if she could take some of her business cards. Sharon provided them gladly.
Weeks later, different Muslim women, some with their daughters in tow, visited the store. Sharon learned that the initial Muslim customer had taken the business cards and put them out on a table in her mosque. Sharon was deeply complimented by this gesture.
At another time a few African-American women dropped in and told her they had traveled up from Newark. One of them had learned about shells from a religious Jewish coworker and thought it was a smart solution to a problem facing women working in hospitals—the buildings are cold and the requisite scrubs are scratchy. The shells provided added warmth and gentle protection for their skin. Sharon earned repeat customers and learned another benefit of modest clothing.
What is clear from Sharon is that Covered Girl Clothing has addressed a need in the marketplace and it does so in a way that shows respect for all customers.
Echoing this sentiment, Avivah Eisengart, a member of the Jewish community of Highland Park/Edison, commented recently: “I love shopping at Covered Girl because it is convenient and Sharon is good to us. We always leave the store with great purchases. We go shopping there for Yom Tov clothes and for everyday clothing. Sharon has a great eye for color and fashion. She always gives her honest opinion, and is very good at helping us find the right choice. “
For more information on Covered Girl Clothing, please see http://www.coveredgirlclothing.com.
This news story is intended as the first in a series. Do you know a local business in Middlesex County, owned by observant Jews, that serves as a Kiddush Hashem? If you do, please share your experiences or observations with Harry Glazer at [email protected]
By Harry Glazer