In less than two decades, Emsud Deumic and his family have expanded their business from a single sewing machine in the family home to an award-winning retail and alterations store at a major shopping center.
Emsud’s Clothiers, at 27th Street and Pine Lake, won the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Minority-Owned Business award in 2007. The Deumics are planning to open a second location in the Marketplace at Village Gardens, at 56th Street and Pine Lake Road.
Despite its growth, Emsud’s Clothiers remains very much a family business. Emsud Deumic and his wife, Samka, work full time at the Pine Lake store. Their daughter, Alma, a student at UNL, joins the couple’s son, Salko, and daughter-in-law, Amanda, to fill in as needed.
Salko, who graduated from UNL with a degree in computer science and mathematics, works at an information technology company during the week and trades off Saturdays at the store with his father.
People are also reading…
“That way he gets at least one day, every other week, off. Same for me,” Salko said.
In 1993, Emsud and Samka came to Lincoln from Bosnia, where they had been involved in the clothing business, and settled with the help of First-Plymouth Congregational Church, Heartland Refugee Resettlement and Church World Service.
The Deumics entered the clothing business in Lincoln on a part-time basis after raising enough money to invest in a commercial sewing machine. At first, they did alterations at home for friends and church members, paying back what they borrowed for the sewing machine. Eventually they were doing alterations for Ben Simon’s and Dillard’s.
“After (my father) got some capital built up, he opened a tailor shop — just alterations only, and just grew from there,” Salko said.
The tailor shop opened in Williamsburg Village in 1997.
“I think we were there for about three years. … And then we moved right over here by 29th and Pine Lake. (We) had an alterations shop, which was the main business, and then we had a small amount of retail in the store to give it a try, to see if there was a market for it.
“I think we were there for about three and a half or four years, while this place (at 27th and Pine Lake) was being built. And then we moved into this place and got a bigger space and more inventory and shifted more towards retail,” Salko said.
They opened in their current location in 2004.
“We still do outside alterations,” Salko said. “A lot of our customers still come in for alterations. The main focus is retail, as is the majority of the square footage being used. We do all the alterations on all our items that we sell, by ourselves. It’s as family business as you can get.”
Emsud’s Clothiers’ typical customer is male, age 25 or older, Salko said.
“We have everything from $199 to $900 (suits). We try to accommodate a wide range of clientele,” he said.
The store carries suits, sportswear, sweaters, shirts, dress pants, shoes, belts and ties. “Except for the undergarments, you can come in and get dressed head to toe,” he said.
Salko said some customers had suggested expanding the stock to include women’s wear, something they might consider trying at a second location, perhaps with his sister running that side of things. At present, though, “there’s just no room in the store. It’s not big enough.
“Unfortunately, it’d be one of those things where you’d bring in a few garments and it just wouldn’t be enough to build a clientele,” Salko said. “You have to get a selection in.”
Salko said the new store would be similar in size to the Pine Lake shop and would offer a slightly different selection. The price point for the lines will not be “outrageous,” he said, in part because Lincoln has a very small market for expensive things.
The Deumics generally keep affordability in mind.
“We get a lot of younger kids that are just getting out of college and starting their first job and they need a suit,” Salko said. “So we have that market, with all our suits 100 percent wool and (at) a very reasonable price. …
“Our entry point is (the) $199 suit, (in) hundred percent wool. That’s where we get a lot of the younger guys buying, because they’re starting out and they don’t want to spend a lot of money,” he said.
“The nice thing is that that price includes alterations, and it’s whenever you need it, because we do all the alterations ourselves. … It’s whatever the customer needs.”
Such convenience attracts out-of-town clients.
“They’ll come up for the game … and buy the item in the morning, and we’ll get it altered. By the time the game’s over, they’ll come back (and) pick it up on their way out,” Salko said.
The Deumics have found their location helps attract new customers. Area shoppers might not be in the market for a suit the first time they notice the store, but they remember it when they’re in need of menswear.
“Twenty-seventh and Pine Lake is a pretty good place to be,” Salko said.
Though the store uses print and television advertising to get the word out about the business, much of its reputation has been built by word-of-mouth.
“We get a lot of business through referrals,” Salko added. “A lot of our customers send their friends and family. They’re satisfied with the garment; they’re satisfied with the service. A lot of it is word of mouth, which is the best way. …
“It reassures that other person that they already know somebody that is happy with the service and the product that we offer.”