By, Raquel Salaysay
Walk into Lenny’s Copy Center & More, and you immediately grasp the “& More” part of their sign. Obama glasses, business card holders, key chains and trophies are among the unexpected items you will find here, as well as an impressive display on the back wall of custom printed throw rugs, suitable for hanging. Their inventory also includes Red Hat Society paraphernalia (called Red H’attitude), tie dye kits, and various versions of Monopoly games for sale.
Of course, owners Bob and Mary Lenaway provide the usual copying services and custom printed T-shirts. But since they brought their business to Ferndale from their Detroit location in July of 2006, they soon realized that responding to emerging market trends was the best strategy for survival. For example, when they first started they mainly focused on transfers for t-shirts, but soon discovered a need for blank t-shirts and hoodies which they promptly added to their shelves. They also decided to become what Mary calls an “office supply convenience store”, offering just a few kinds of office and computer necessities, but also the advantage of purchasing just a few items instead of in bulk like the more well known stores.
Along with this, the Lenaways also strive to be aware of upcoming events or occasions they can build business around, such as Black History Month in February. To help celebrate African-American history and its important contributions to the world, they are offering special transfers of famous individuals in art, politics and pop music, as well as a variety of T-shirts displaying the likes of Malcolm X and the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots who fought during World War II. And if you’re an avid Obama supporter, they definitely got your stuff: mugs, t-shirts, watches and probably anything else you can think of.
But there is another interesting dimension to the Lenaways lives. For the last 35 years, they have fostered over 100 children, an amazing amount for this couple who have been residents of Ferndale for over two decades.
“It’s something I was introduced to as a child by a relative of mine who fostered,” says Mary. For her, it was a very positive experience. And when she met Bob, she found out they already had something in common – he was a foster child himself.
As their business grew, so did their family. They now have 12 children, a combination of birth, step and adopted kids. They have worked exclusively with Orchard Children Services, which is based in Southfield but also have offices in Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne County. According to Mary, the adoption process is long, but not necessarily complicated, and the agency is pretty familiar with them by now. Clearly, they love kids, and have successfully provided a loving and supportive environment for many who would otherwise have landed in a less than fortunate situation.
With the current economy, a big family and a company to run, the Bob and Mary Lenaway certainly have a lot on their plate. They do, however, consider themselves lucky- they have managed to avoid hiring employees and continue to handle operations with the just the two of them. “Bob handles the initial meetings and order taking, and I do the rest,” says Mary while her husband assists a customer. “It’s a struggle, but we’re hanging in there. Our doors still open every day, and we just keep looking for the best buys and try to give the best deals.” On the plus side, they are starting to build some notoriety beyond Ferndale. The other day, a caller surprised Mary by saying he was from Canton and that a friend had recommended them. A good sign, as far as the Lenaways are concerned.
With their diverse and numerous services, Lenny’s Copy Center & More isn’t exactly unprepared for the future. And if by some small chance they don’t offer a particular item someone is interested in, they’ll find a means to procure the product. After all, Bob does have his motto to stick to: “If we don’t have it, we’ll get it for you. Period.”
You can find Lenny’s Copy Center & More at 2103 Hilton Road, and if you have a question regarding their wide range of services, you can contact Bob or Mary at 248-544-6313.