Gamache & Lessard: Part of what makes LA great
Written by Dan Marois Photography by Heidi Sawyer
While Gamache & Lessard has decorated area homes since 1945, it has been proudly family owned since 1983.
Ron and Janine Peyser purchased the business that year and continued the tradition of excellence in all things related to window decoration. Whether it be window blinds, shades, curtains, draperies, motorization, valances, interior design and decorating, the Peysers have done it all. And through the years, the business has provided customers with outstanding service, high quality products and excellent prices on all types of window treatments.
At six years of age, their daughter, Amy (married name Bilodeau) remembers going to the family business.
“I remember playing in the store back then,” said Bilodeau, who with her husband, Chris, purchased the business from her parents in January of 2015. “I have officially been working here since 1998 and my husband has been here since 1995.”
“100% of what we sell is custom made to fit the customer’s preferences.”
Amy’s official title is President while her husband is Secretary/Owner of the business. “Of course, we both end up doing a bit of everything to keep the business going,” admits Bilodeau.
Today, Gamache & Lessard is one of the largest window decorating suppliers in the state of Maine. The family members work at the 995 Center Street location with an extensive showroom filled with samples of shades, blinds and other window related products. There are also large work tables where shades and blinds are cut to size and where custom made products are produced.
“100% of what we sell is custom made to fit the customer’s preferences,” said Bilodeau, noting that she has hundreds of cloth sample books from which custom made curtains are fabricated. “We are one of the few places where the manufacturing and sewing is done right here.” Employees at Gamache & Lessard include Meagan Charest who is a seamstress and Paul Chabot who Bilodeau affectionately calls “the shade man.” Ron Peyser continues to work part-time while Donna Harrington is a contractor that does upholstery work.
“We are always running around and busy,” said Bilodeau, who manages a huge volume of business with very few people. “We all know our jobs and responsibilities and we all work together to get the job done.”
Bilodeau’s husband handles much of the commercial sales while Amy is involved in sales, customer service, fabrication and installations.
“We both have our business degrees but we’ve gained our experience from on the job training,” said Bilodeau. She admits that she has always been artistic but has learned the most from taking apart and putting together colors and fabrics.
Gamache & Lessard provides everything that is needed in a window decorating project from start to finish. While many customers shop in the spacious show room, Bilodeau gains most insight by a personal visit to their homes.
“In their homes, I can see the space that they are working with and I can ask them questions about the project,” said Bilodeau. “I can find out what they like, what colors they have in mind, what will work best for them, and what will make the customer the happiest.”
Bilodeau and her team, work with existing properties as well as with new construction that is just being designed. About half of their business is residential and the other half is working in commercial spaces.
“We do work in places like hospitals and schools,” adds Bilodeau.
The business is not limited to just the Lewiston Auburn area. In fact, they will travel to about a three-hour drive radius to service customers which encompasses most of New England.
“Today we have a crew in North Conway, New Hampshire and this week we will be in Corinth, Maine,” said Bilodeau.“We sometimes travel into Massachusetts.”
While the bulk of their business is supplying new products, Gamache & Lessard is also well known for their repair services.
“If an item can be repaired, we can do it,” said Bilodeau. Current repair services cover blinds, mini blinds, roller shade, pleated shade, draperies and valances, Roman shades, traverse rods and vertical blinds. They even repair pleated shades in RV motor homes.
“If an item is beyond repair because of age or wear and tear, we will help customers find a comparable product to replace it.”
“Customers want products that are simple, clean and easy to care for with no fussing needed.”
The business is well known for keeping current on upcoming trends and meeting the needs of today’s savvy customers.
“We are doing lots more with motorization of window treatments,” said Bilodeau, citing that customers like the convenience of motor powered devices and remote control access to change the window décor. Demand for this has increased in recent years with lower prices and more user friendly options for the devices.
Interest in sustainable products has increased in the market and Gamache & Lessard is committed to sourcing products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.
Energy savings is also another area where business is skyrocketing.
“Customers want products that are simple, clean and easy to care for with no fussing needed,” said Bilodeau. “And they are interested in reducing their energy costs.”
A current popular item is a cellular shade with a honey-comb structure that traps the air within the shade.
“In the summer, it keeps out the heat and in the winter, it keeps in the heat,” said Bilodeau. “Customers find significant savings in their energy costs.”
Bilodeau says that business used to be a bit seasonal in nature, but that is not true any longer.
“People are doing projects year round and we are busy all the time,” said Bilodeau, noting that it simply increases her commitment to service excellence.
“We are service oriented and work to satisfy the customer,” Bilodeau said. “You can buy similar products many other places but you can’t get the customer service installation and follow up like we do here.”
Gamache & Lessard is located at 995 Center Street in Auburn. They can be reached at 207-782-0052, 877-671-1941 or www.windowdecorators.com.