A good young idea, Indianola retailer celebrates 45 years in businessBy BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,
Leanne Silverblatt swore at a young age that she would never enter the retail business.
Living in Dallas, Texas in the early seventies – where her husband Alan then worked as an industrial engineer – she was also perfectly content to never return to her hometown of Indianola.
This year, the couple will celebrate 45 years in business together at Young Ideas.
Both Leanne and Alan are Sunflower County natives, and both had family in the retail business for decades.
Alan’s family had lived in Ruleville and Drew during his childhood.
A fourth generation Indianola native, Leanne’s great grandparents Lena and Isaac Harris owned a downtown store where The Crown restaurant is now located.
Until 1997, her grandparents Maurine and Melvin Lipnick operated the oldest retail business in Sunflower County, E. Weinberg’s Store on Front Street.
That store was first opened by Leanne’s grandparents, Ethel and Abe Weinberg.
Leanne said she witnessed for years how demanding the retail business could be, and she was determined to stay as far away from the industry as possible.
That was until Kent Lovelace started construction on the Lovelace Shopping Center and began recruiting some of Leanne’s family to open a branch store in the retail strip.
Alan had other plans.
“He had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to do something on his own,” Leanne said. “Alan said, ‘Why don’t we be the ones to open the store in the shopping center?’ He brought me back from Dallas kicking and screaming.”
Young Ideas opened its doors in 1973, and it has become one of the Delta’s longest running retail businesses.
The Silverblatts spent a decade in the Lovelace location before purchasing the end cap of the former Sunflower Food Store building in 1983, doubling their size.
“We always wanted to be on the highway because of the traffic, and we wanted our own building,” Leanne said.
The store offers clothing and gift items for females from infancy to adult women and for boys infants to prep sizes.
Through the years, the couple has gotten to know some of their closest friends through the store, and they credit their customer service for their longevity.
Like Open House
After 45 years in business, Alan and Leanne Silverblatt have gotten to know a lot of people through Young Ideas.
That has been the most rewarding part of their journey, Leanne said.
“The main thing we enjoy is the people,” she said. “It’s like having open house every day. You never know who you’re going to visit with.”
Not only did the Siverblatts raise their children in Young Ideas, but many of the town’s kids were brought up buying the latest trends from the store.
“Now we’re dressing second and even third generations of families,” Leanne said.
Alan said that the couple has gotten to know countless people over the years,, even making some of their closest friends through selling clothes and other items.
Customer Service is No. 1
It’s hard to imagine a big box store opening its doors after hours on a Saturday night to allow someone to do some last minute clothes shopping for church.
That’s what has separated Young Ideas from its competition for the last 45 years, Alan Silverblatt said.
“Customer service is No. 1 with us,” he said. “It’s the only way we can compete with online and big box stores.”
Over the years, he has been known to take items to people’s homes after hours, whether it is last minute Easter attire or Christmas gifts.
“My family and his family both lived by ‘the customer is always right,’” Leanne said. “That’s where we come from.”
Keeping Young Ideas Young
Young Ideas always had to compete with the bigger stores, and that is why customer service was so important.
In recent years, however, the store has had to compete more with online retailers.
Alan Silverblatt said they have always prided themselves on keeping up with the latest trends, and that includes fashion and technology.
“We pride ourselves in change,” he said.
Young Ideas has a full-service website, with a shopping cart just like a larger online retailer would have.
Also, the store has been aggressive for years in its social media interaction with customers.
The store also has an email program that is sent out to customers.
The couple has seen countless trend changes over the years, but the core of the business has remained the same.
Loyal customers and great local service.