Lad & Lassie: Clothing is all in the Family
William T. "Bill" Evans, 87, of Lake Forest, the long time owner of Lad & Lassie women's and children's clothing store in Wilmette, is shown last fall with members of his family at the store. From left: daughter Patti Evans; Bill Evans; wife Midge; daught
Lad & Lassie
1115 Central Ave.
Hours: MTWF 9:30-6, Thurs. 9:30-8, Sat. 9:30-5:30
Updated: November 12, 2012 6:10AM
WILMETTE — The Evans family gives new meaning to the term “family business.”
Sisters Patty Evans, Mimi Evans and Zee Barry now run Lad & Lassie, the women’s and children’s clothing store purchased by their grandmother, Beulah Leipsiger in 1953. Their father, Bill Evans worked with Leipsiger (his mother-in-law) and eventually took over the store until he retired a few years ago.
“Beulah was a clever lady,” said 87 year-old Bill, who still does paperwork and manages some aspects of the business, “I was a salesperson, so we worked really well together.”
Bill said his daughters came to him several years ago and expressed an interest in working at the store.
“My sister, Patty and I both started here in 1980,” said Mimi, “We all sort of fall into our positions, so it works really well.”
Lad & Lassie was originally located across the street from where it is now, and carried only children’s clothing. The store still clothes kids, but it has expanded to sell everyday women’s clothing, outdoor wear, including a large selection of name brand jackets and boots, jewelry, and gifts, which Barry said is a huge part of the business.
“We are the birthday party headquarters,” said Barry, the youngest Evans sister. “We know we can’t become stagnant and we have to constantly be updating and reinventing our gift selection. Plus, we carry lots of party favor options, and we gift wrap, which makes it easy for the customer.”
Susan Affinito of Wilmette is a frequent customer, who shops at Lad & Lassie for herself, as well as her five daughters and one son.
“The customer service here is beyond compare, and the merchandise is high quality,” said Affinito. “I am always buying birthday presents here for my daughters’ friends.”
“Wilmette is a community that is so loyal and they are very into shopping locally and supporting us,” said Mimi, “We are so fortunate.”
Patty Evans attributes the longevity of Lad & Lassie’s success to genuine customer service.
“We’re great about returns, and other things customers might need,” she said, “And we make sure we know what the customer wants as far as what we stock in the store.”
Amy McCarter grew up in Wilmette, now lives in Winnetka, and frequents Lad & Lassie for herself and her kids.
“I have shopped here since I was nine, no kidding,” she said. “And as an adult, I really like the things in here. The store is personable and really nice looking, and the owners have great taste.”
Lad & Lassie also gives back to the community by sponsoring kids with special needs from New Trier High School to work in the store. They hire one student per year and provide job training and experience. In 2011, their commitment to the program earned them the New Trier Township Friendship Award.
“Hiring these kids is very special to us,” said Barry, “We have one employee we ended up hiring permanently.”
Patti, Mimi and Zee also have three other sisters and two brothers. There are 18 grandchildren in the family, as well.
When asked if the family business ever puts stress on the family, all three sisters and their parents laughed, as if no one knew exactly how to respond.
“As little girls, my daughters used to come in here and play in the attic, climbing into boxes and goofing around,” said Bill, “I’ll never forget those days.”
“It really is nice that we get to be together all the time,” Barry said.