April and Michael Levandowski own and operate two stores on Martha’s Vineyard — LeRoux at Home, and LeRoux Gourmet — along with four off-Island stores in Falmouth, Portsmouth, N.H.; and Scarborough and Portland, Maine.
How long have you been in business?
What do you sell?
Kitchen housewares, which include bakeware, cookware, cutlery, electrics, gadgets, glassware, gift housewares, gourmet foods and ingredients, textiles. We also sell bedding: sheets, mattress pads and toppers, blankets, bedskirts, bed pillows, comforters, bedspreads, duvet covers. For the bath, we have bath towels, beach towels, shower curtains, bath accessories, bathmats and rugs.
LeRoux at Home also stocks cleaning and organization supplies — laundry baskets, irons, ironing boards, and other needs for the home, such as curtains and curtain rods, lamps, and rugs.
Leroux Gourmet features artisan oils and vinegars, gourmet foods and ingredients, chocolates, locally produced foods (salts, spices, cheese, chocolates, coffee, tea, sauces, jam), and some hostess gifts.
How do you decide what to carry?
Stay true to who we are, and shop the trade markets.
Do you accommodate different budgets?
Yes, our motto is “good, better, best.” We try to offer three levels [in quality and price] of each product or category.
Where are you from, and what is your background?
Michael is from Connecticut, and worked in corporate America with robotics for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft there, then programmed device drivers for Digital Computers in Marlboro. His last position in Cambridge was as director of technical services for Bolt Beranek and Newman before moving full-time to Martha’s Vineyard.
April is from Pennsylvania, also worked in corporate America in the IT field, first as a programmer for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, and United Technologies in Connecticut. Her last position in Boston was as manager of the Bank of Boston human resource information system installation, before moving to Martha’s Vineyard full time.
Together, we have owned and operated multiple business on the Vineyard, ranging from the Crocker House Inn to a millworks shop (Martha’s Vineyard Millworks in Vineyard Haven) to multiple retail stores, a convenience store (Woodland Market) to clothing to shoe stores, to our current housewares and gourmet stores.
How many employees do you have?
It fluctuates seasonally from seven to 17 on the Vineyard.
How has the business changed over the years?
Assortment: It used to include mattresses and furniture; size: wWe outgrew our space, so we decided to open LeRoux Gourmet across the street, with all the artisan oils and vinegars and gourmet ingredients and foods. We also opened four stores off-Island. E-commerce is another change: We’ve developed an e-commerce website.
What are some of the challenges of operating a business on the Island?
The biggest are staffing, and seasonal demands.
What are some of the most popular items?
Artisan oils and vinegars, kitchen gadgets, chef and paring knives, area rugs, sheets, and bed pillows.
Do you get a lot of brides registering with you?
Yes, and we can accommodate more!
What is your business philosophy?
Offer customers a reliable and good shopping experience through year-round hours, knowledgeable staff, good customer service, in a well-assorted, competitively priced store. Participate in the community and support other independent local businesses by partnering with them and/or buying and selling their products or services.
What do you think makes Vineyard Haven/the Island special?
No traffic lights, natural beauty, topographical and character differences from one side of the Island to the other.
What is your idea of the perfect day off?
Spending it together — taking a ride up-Island, walking the beach, swimming, gathering a bounty of fresh ingredients from local farms and shops to come home and cook together for each other and friends.