Working in the retail industry is laborious. Selling clothes is even riskier. Selling successfully to men who despise shopping is a singular achievement. Succeeding at it for 50 years is the legend of Henri Vézina!h2>
When his boss, financier Jean-Louis Lévesque, closed his Montréal Fashion Craft shops in 1962, Henri Vézina, father of three, found himself without a job. Distraught, he moved into a small 800 square foot space, a building four times larger than the butcher’s shop his brother was building in Laval. Like many Italians of the day, Vézina opened a tailor shop and managed to get back prestigious clients he had earlier served in the city. His son Gilles came on the scene in 1975. On sabbatical after a year of law school, he tried to find a way to differentiate the business from competitors. He ventured into a European men’s fashion salon and returned with twelve sweaters! His father was skeptical, yet within a month the sweaters found a clientele, and six months later, Gilles repeated the buy. The business took flight. Today, the store is replete with a wide variety of imported luxury brands: Canali, Hugo Boss, Eton, Just Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana … sixteen in all. Henri Vézina doesn’t simply sell merchandise; it extends a highly personalized service. Associates note the tastes of its customers in order to assist with future purchases; provide tailoring advice (there are two tailors on site); and make office deliveries. And the business provides free parking to clients, offers a helpful ‘tips’ website, and markets sports wear, jeans, tuxedos… in sum, 50 years of consistency and perfectionism. Today, the concept, message, service, and product remain unchanged – even the ad agency has collaborated with the company for over 20 years, securing multiple awards during its tenure. It seems that Gilles Vézina took full advantage of his evening classes in marketing, with the effect that advertising and word-of-mouth have made Henri Vézina the benchmark for fashionable menswear. At least half of the twenty leading businessmen of ‘Québec Inc.’ dress at Henri Vézina and enjoy the product offerings given in its 7,500 sq ft space – the only location in Canada to house an independent Hugo Boss boutique – proof of a dedicated entrepreneur, who never stops short in the pursuit of excellence. In September, Henri Vézina will introduce a Giorgio Armani collection, which he believes will please his discriminating clientele. But perhaps not all customers. Not to worry. Gilles Vézina and his seven sales consultants constantly keep an eye out for every taste: it all depends on the needs of their loyal clientele.
Henri Vézina, 1825 boul. Daniel-Johnson, Laval (450) 686 6800, henrivezina.com