Over 30 years ago, while Malcolm Fraser clung to his seat, Melbournites were still rejoicing Gurners Lane's victory in the Cup (and no doubt chortling about the streaker incident), the memory of the Blues taking out the premiership still fresh in their minds, a young migrant couple were celebrating for reasons of a more personal nature. Bestowed with the freedom of starting a new life in this lucky country, the talented seamstress and her dedicated, street wise husband, both from Ukraine, opened a modest little clothing alterations business in the as- yet-undiscovered Degraves Street.
Track forward thirty years, over thousands of fittings, hemline tweaks, and perfect finishes, Garment Doctor is now a thriving family business, nestled in the Hub of Little Collins Street. Employing 19 staff from 6 different cultural backgrounds, this multicultural hub boasts solid business relationships with forty retailers and hundreds of return customers. Jeff Frid, Expert Alterations Director, acknowledges that his dedication, strong work ethic, and focus on customer and employee satisfaction, has been the key to the success of their business.
Customers trust that their cherished items are safe in the company's capable hands and the business has been embraced by retail company heads who have forged long standing, successful relationships. Whether a customer is bringing in a single item, or a store representative guides rack after rack of clothing into their workroom, the pair ensure that the quality of service and the care taken with each item is not compromised. And the outcome is guaranteed: a perfectly altered item of clothing, the customer feeling understood, the necessary time taken to finish an item, returned to the customer whenever it is required, are the principles that drive the couple in their work, and underpin the culture of the workplace.
Results speak for themselves: Expert Alterations boasts hundreds of return customers, and has enjoyed ongoing relationships with over forty retail outlets over the last thirty years, a trend that according to Mr Frid, they will work hard to maintain "for at least another thirty years". So dedicated are the couple that they have worked tirelessly for six days a week, since opening in 1982.
Their commitment to maintaining excellence in service is reciprocated: when Mrs Frid was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-2011, store managers and staff expressed their concern, and solidarity, sending gifts, cards and offers of support to Mr Frid, who undertook sole management of business operations and their 19 staff, during Mrs Frid's treatment. Mrs Frid, a vibrant, engaging woman, sees her return to work in between treatment as a key part of her recovery, offering her some semblance of normality during an otherwise chaotic time in her life.