By Maggie Gordon The Stamford Advocate, Conn.
Reality television is coming to The Ave this week as CNBC's "The Profit" takes on floundering Greenwich clothing store COURAGE.b in its season premiere.
"The process was incredible," said Stephanie Menkin, who owns COURAGE.b, at 85 Greenwich Ave., with her brother, Nicolas Goureau, and her mother, Noemie Goureau. "Just the actual process of making a reality show is nerve-wracking and difficult, but when it's also about your business and your livelihood is being scrutinized and ripped up and looked at from every angle, that's really hard."
The show, which airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. on CNBC, follows the same formula each episode. Self-made millionaire and serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis heads into the struggling store to offer to help them out of a tight spot, offering a large check in exchange for a percentage of the business and the control to turn the ship around.
Menkin said she could not disclose the specifics of Lemonis' offer, or even whether it was accepted, until after the episode airs. But she did say the experience was life-changing.
"We've been in Greenwich for nearly six years now, and it's been great. But we needed to grow in the sense that we wanted to bring a more cohesive product line and collection in for our customers," Menkin said. "We wanted to bring the quality up, bring the design up and just cater to a wider range of clients, and we were having a little trouble doing that on our own, which is why we called in Marcus."
There are seven COURAGE.b locations across the country, but the episode focuses mainly on the Greenwich shop and the corporate headquarters in New York City, a decision that Menkin said was made because of the ease of zipping between those two spots. But keeping the lid on the top-secret operation wasn't easy.
"No one knew we were doing this. It was pretty secret. No one knows if we've made a deal or not, and we can't say anything until the show airs," she said.
On the first morning of filming, back in the beginning of summer, Menkin was told to report to her Greenwich store at 9 a.m. to meet Lemonis for the beginning of the taping.
"He closed our store, just like that," she said. "I had customers with things on hold. I had customers with things at alteration, and that day he just closed the store. I had no idea we were going to do that. I was in shock."
Other local business leaders reached out to her, leaving phone messages to ask why the storefront was closed. She couldn't answer. When Lemonis was spotted on the street, she had to keep mum about why.
"Marcus shoots this show all over America, and he's traveling all over the place, but it's not like he's Donald Trump. He's not recognized everywhere," she said. "But Greenwich is such a financial community that he couldn't even walk down the street.
Everyone stopped him. Everyone knew who he was in Greenwich."
Keeping the secret has been tough on Menkin, who said she is excited for everyone to see the results of the months-long process. "I can't wait for everyone to watch and see what happens," Menkin said.