Pictured is Toyology in West Bloomfield. Consumers are encouraged to shop at local establishments on Small Business Saturday Nov. 27.

Pictured is Toyology in West Bloomfield. Consumers are encouraged to shop at local establishments on Small Business Saturday Nov. 27.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Small businesses welcome holiday shoppers in Greater West Bloomfield

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 22, 2021

 Toyology Store Lead Nicole Luke wraps a gift for a shopper Nov. 12. Wrapping gifts is a service offered for anyone making purchases at Toyology.

Toyology Store Lead Nicole Luke wraps a gift for a shopper Nov. 12. Wrapping gifts is a service offered for anyone making purchases at Toyology.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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METRO DETROIT — In a time when a lot of people are doing their shopping online with Amazon and eBay, there is at least one day of the year when consumers are encouraged to take more of an old-fashioned approach.

In 2010, American Express originated what is known as Small Business Saturday, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and encourages consumers to shop at and support small businesses in their local communities.

Nori Klar is the owner of Toyology, which sells toys and other accessories at locations in West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills and Royal Oak.

She discussed the importance of “shopping small and shopping local.”

“It makes a big difference in the community,” said Klar, who started Toyology in 2011. “We’re really involved in giving back to the schools and local community organizations — churches, synagogues; we give, give, give. … We’re always helping our communities.”

Jeffrey Telesco is the owner of Telesco Carpet & Floor in Keego Harbor.

He has been at that location for 12 years, but he has been in the flooring business for 41 years.

Telesco said he started in the flooring business as a stock boy at the age of 16, before eventually going into sales and then management.

He purchased his current company after the previous owner decided to retire.

“It’s like one of those stories of the stock boy eventually bought the company,” Telesco said.

Telesco has an opinion about the place of small businesses in communities.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the community,” he said. “We look at the communities surrounding, not just in Keego Harbor or Sylvan Lake, but our surrounding areas — Bloomfield Hills, West Bloomfield, Farmington — (as) neighbors and friends. … We invest a lot into our existing communities, such as promoting high school bands, working fairs that are in our area, (and) donating carpet. … We’ve donated carpeting to schools so that kids can sit on the floor in (an) area rug-type setting for their quiet reading time.”

As important as small businesses can be to communities, Telesco also sees it the other way.

“It’s just a matter of realizing how important your surrounding community is to the business, that they’re our biggest supporters, and we like to give back when we can,” he said. “So I think it’s important for any small business to pitch in (to) the community.”

Klar said she sold a drugstore before starting Toyology.

She said the best part of being a business owner is being around people and “making them happy.”

However, there are also challenges, and what is occurring nationwide right now is a prime example.

“Employees — can’t find them,” Klar said. “You could find employees before; you can’t now. … People got unemployment, and now. … I don’t know what they’re doing now, but they’re not coming back to work.”

Klar added that, “We have great employees once we find them.”

She said Toyology has “a little under” 20 employees.

Klar also discussed a service that she and her employees offer that she said an online-only company can’t compete with.

“When you shop at Toyology, you get personal service,” she said. “People walk in, everybody knows each other. You could walk in and say, ‘I’m looking for something that’s for a 2-year-old, I want to spend $30,’ and they walk out with something they love.”

Telesco discussed what appeals to him about being in the business he’s in.

“The reason why I’m in this business is because I just love the nature of going to individual people’s homes,” he said. “Every job is different. Every job is unique — a new set of issues or problems, or whatever it is — and figuring out the solutions for people, helping them make those decisions and guiding them through the process. That’s what I love most about it: The uniqueness of each and every job that we go on is so much different from the other.”

Despite being “thrilled” that he made the decision to go into business, Telesco acknowledged that it can be a “very, very scary thing.”

“The challenging part is changing with the times,” he said. “We’ve been through a bunch of changes since I started this business. We went through a national recession, then we went through the COVID pandemic, and we’ve had to change our course and the way we do business throughout that time period constantly. So being able to do that, being able to see the writing on the wall and being prepared for those changes or downturns, that’s probably the most stressful thing, but the most beneficial, if you can get a handle on (it).”

For Telesco, one of the upsides of being a business owner is perhaps what draws the majority of people to make the decision to become self-employed.

“What I love about being a business owner, especially in a smaller community like this, is I get to do things the way that I’ve worked so hard to learn, and I get to impart my vision of my business and the way we do business,” he said. “So I like having the ability to make those decisions as I see fit, and it’s a very gratifying business for me.”

Telesco said there are four people on staff at his store and about 22 installers in the field.

Aside from being self-employed, another thing that brings him gratification is being in a position to help others earn a living.

“The people that are working here, all of them are well above their expected pay that they would expect,” Telesco said. “It’s fun to watch them grow and to be able to start to afford some of the things in life that they didn’t think, maybe, were reachable for them; see now that they’ve got job security and good pay. That’s very gratifying for me.”

Aside from the employment shortages that have been prevalent throughout the nation, consumers have also been adapting to supply chain shortages.

“It’s definitely a struggle, but if you plan accordingly and educate your customer, most people are very understanding,” Telesco said. “People know that it’s taking longer to get product. The important thing is that we give them all their options, because they may (be) coming in looking for hardwood and decide that they could use this other product, as well. So a lot (of) times, it’s really about educating the customer and giving them all their options, and if they need it quickly, we can show them the things that they can get quickly.”

Supply chain shortages and price increases can go hand-in-hand, and Telesco has taken notice.

“We’re also starting to feel a pinch of the price increasing, as far as freight and product availability,” he said. “The thing that makes it easy, though, is that we’re all experiencing it. So whether they go to me (or another flooring business), we’re all experiencing these delays and these price increases. So it puts everybody on an even keel. Now it’s up to us to manage the project for the customer in a way that they feel confident in us to get it done.”

Toyology has also had issues getting products, which Klar said has been going on ever since COVID.

She anticipates that it is going to take a long time before supply chain issues are resolved. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers can’t get what they’re looking for.

“I’m in a good position,” Klar said. “We have nice relationships with our manufacturers, and we have product. You can’t tell there’s a shortage if you come into our stores. Although I know, when I order, I’m not getting everything, people shopping would never know.”

People can also shop online at toyologytoys.com.

To search for products offered online by Telesco Carpet & Floor, visit telescofloors.com.

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