by Angela Puzzella
When walking into Blum's Swimwear and Intimate Apparel, one is immediately taken aback at the size and expansive selection. At the front entrance, your eyes are met by the biggest selection of swimsuits you have probably ever seen, and at the back entrance the selection of intimate apparel makes your average department store or big name store's selection pale in comparison.
Blum's prides itself on two things: having something for every body and excellent customer service provided by a knowledgeable staff.
I sat down with owner Lynn Siegel to discuss what sets her store apart and why readers should pay the Williamsville specialty store a visit.
Q: So Lynn, not many people know that the original Blum's is located in Long Island. What made you decide to open a second store?
A: Well, I had a change in my life. I needed to find something to support myself and my children, and after working for a short period of time in a cubicle setting, I realized that I was really cut out to work with people. So I approached my father, and asked him if the other store would back me to open a store here.
Q: As we all know, swimsuit and bra shopping often causes a lot of stress and dread to women. Why should a woman come into Blum's?
A: What motivates a woman to come in here are multiple reasons. The first is that so many of our customers tell us that they have heard about us and our customer service; that other family members or friends have said this is a place you have to go to. Those people say that because we have great customer service. We really sincerely care about our customers getting the best fit to fit their bodies.
It is very different than going to a mall setting where the employees working there are just working there. Their consideration, their interest, their motivation is not for the customer. Whereas when you come into Blum's, we truly care about every customer that walks in. We want to make sure that they are in the best-fitting bra so that they look good and feel good about it, and the same thing goes for a swimsuit. So many women are so self-conscious about their bodies that our staff here, their main motivation is to empower women. They empower the woman they are working with and, in turn, they empower themselves by the kindness and care they are showing them.
Other reasons to come in are that we have a great selection; we have specialty suits, so that we are specializing in cup size and plus size, so that those customers who can't readily walk into another store and pick something off the rack can come to us.
Our customers feel and look great when they walk out - and what else does a woman want but that honest assistance and that great feel at the end of a shopping experience? Oftentimes, a customer will be checking out, and she will look at us and say, "This was the least painful torture." For a woman to say that when it comes to her undergarments or swimwear, that to me is like hitting the nail on the head.
Q: What would you say to a woman who is very shy or body conscious in order to help her feel more acclimated?
A: Putting aside some of those feelings will get you results that you will love. If that woman expresses that from the very start, our staff will be considerate of that. We will make sure that we make that customer feel comfortable in any way that we can. We really need to see how the undergarments are fitting so that we can give a professional opinion that it is the right fit. The people who work here really care about the end result - the people who work here, who serve the customer that create a positive experience for women.
Q: Some big brand-name stores cater to a specific size or age group. That doesn't appear to be the feel at Blum's. Can you explain?
A: Because we have a large selection, we don't focus on a small age group. Blum's spans from when a girl first needs a bra, to literally end of life. A woman comes here because she wants customer service.
Q: There have been several statistics showing that the vast majority of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Could you expand on that a little?
A: What we hear from so many women is that they walk in and they may say they are a certain size, but when you come to Blum's, we even have one particular associate who always says, "I changed a life today." So many women go into a mall or a big box store, they pick something off the rack, put it on, and think that it looks good, but they don't really know what a proper fit should be. We have a lot of women coming in thinking their size is large; we carry to an extremely large size. In life there is a bell curve. We get someone who walks in and may be a very small band and a small cup, the opposite being a very big band and a very big cup, and everything in between. We carry to an N cup. We carry to about a 48 in the band. But we can mix and match that, somewhat. We can do a big band with a smaller cup, or a smaller band with a bigger cup. We have lots of different products and companies that we carry, but it's the people who work here that make the difference.
Q: Do you have any tips that would help a woman find a better fit for herself?
A: Yes, come to Blum's. I'd have to say things that are logical: the band, the part that goes around you, should not be too loose or too tight. Same with the straps: too tight it will ride up; too loose they will slide off your shoulders. You should be comfortable in your bra. You should not have any breast tissue bubbling up over the bra, and you shouldn't have any of the bra have a large emptiness. It is nice if the middle part of the bra, known as the gore, sits flat on your chest, because you're separating and getting support rather than using a bra as a sling and holding everything in place.
Come visit Blum's, centrally located in the Village of Williamsville at 5727 Main St. The hours are Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sundays from February to Sept. 1, noon to 5 p.m.
Lynn Siegel stands in front of Blum's Swimwear and Intimate Apparel.