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John Levy has fifty two years executive experience in retail merchandising.. Twenty years with a family owned Department Store (Levy Brothers), after which he founded and built his own specialty store business (The Better Half) over a thirty-two year span. He also conceptualized and organized the formation of a nationwide trade organization (The LLAMA Group) and served as it president.
At Levy Brothers where he was a 4th generation family member, he rose through successively more responsible merchandising positions to become company President. He had close and continuing contacts with the principals of major manufacturers such as Estee Lauder Cosmetics and Pendleton Woolen Mills as well as many others of similar renown. He was a member of two major resident buying offices servicing department stores across the nation. (Independent Retailers Syndicate) and (Mutual Buying Office). Levy ran store principal meetings for both offices and had ongoing contacts with the CEO's of both large (100 Million Plus) as well as smaller stores. In 1975 he experienced the trials and tribulations of a bank orchestrated Chapter Eleven proceeding..
In 1976 he founded a woman's apparel specialty store catering exclusively to large sizes and named it The Better Half. He successfully expanded to a four store operation and in January 2008 sold the company to an employee. In the fall of 2008 Levy will begin teaching courses in fashion merchandising and retail buying at Kean University, one of New Jersey's largest institutions of higher learning with a population of over 13,000 students.
Levy founded and established a nationwide trade organization consisting of homogenous, non-competing specialty stores across the country all specializing in better large size womens apparel. (The LLAMA Group). The concept was to use the buying power of the group to accomplish that which could not be done at the individual store level. So with a "ten million dollar pencil" the group: (1) utilized group purchasing to negotiate price; (2) secured exclusive styles with the LLAMA label; (3) established a figure exchange program which tabulated merchandising and expense figures for comparison purposes; (4) produced two 4-color fashion catalogs each year with individual footprint capabilities; (5) published a monthly newsletter; and (6) planned two member meetings each year in New York and at a member store location. The group hired a product development manager and rented a New York office. Levy was elected chairman and ran the group for the first four years after which he served as chairman emeritus. This group became a "force in the market" and established a precedent proving that small companies banding together could compete with much larger competitors. Levy was skilled at overcoming the ego's of individual owners and molding them into a viable business unit. This prototype organization was then emulated by other groups of retailers.
Levy shoots competitively in the sport known as "sporting clays" (a shotgun target sport). He is a life member of the NSCA (National Sporting Clays Association) and the CTSCA (Connecticut Travelers Sporting Clays Association).
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University in business administration with a major in retailing. Levy is a member of Mensa International, open only to individuals with IQ's in the 98th percentile.
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