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Royal Oak’s Frentz & Sons Hardware: 87 Years of Having “Everything!”

Royal Oak’s Frentz & Sons Hardware: 87 Years of Having “Everything!”

Royal Oak’s Frentz & Sons Hardware: 87 Years of Having “Everything!”


MARCH 2019


LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

When repairmen from Clinton Township’s Hoover Plumbing need a special part for a Dishmaster faucet, they drive miles past the many large-chain home improvement outlets and head straight to Frentz & Sons Hardware in Royal Oak.

“We’d rather come here than the ‘big box’ stores for those parts,” they say. “Frentz & Sons has whatever we need.”



“We hear that all the time,” says Mike Frentz, who owns and runs, along with his brother, John Frentz, the iconic hardware store that was started by their father and grandfather and has been in Royal Oak for 87 years — and has been named Hour Magazine’s Best Hardware Store thirteen years in a row as well as one of the twelve best hardware stores in the country by Popular Mechanics magazine.

“We have 1.2 million items of inventory,” says Mike. “If someone comes in and asks for something and we don’t have it, we try to stock it. And we end up having what people in this area need.”

“And,” he continues, “though people expect our prices to be high because we are a single, small business, customers are always telling us that what they’re buying here actually often costs less than at the big-chain stores.”

“We don’t have a lot of just one thing,” John adds. “We have a few of just about everything.”

“I came in with my husband when he needed a special lightbulb,” says Ferndale resident Gretchen Salsby. “I hadn’t been here in a while, and I ended up staying for almost two hours! Walking up and down the aisles of linoleum tiles and wood and concrete floor, I found so many treasures: large pottery crocks, storage and kitchen tools and gadgets, books, and even craft supplies.”

“I bought an ‘old-school’ enamel Dutch oven,” she says, “in a perfect, small size that I didn’t even know existed! And everything is so neatly displayed.”

“I hadn’t been here in a while, and I ended up staying for almost two hours! Walking up and down the aisles of linoleum tiles and wood and concrete floor, I found so many treasures…”

Mike chuckles when he is complimented on the store’s orderliness.

“Well,” he smiles, “in 2010, we installed our first computer system.”

“From that time on,” he explains, “we no longer had to price items individually, but have prices on the actual shelves. I said, ‘If I have to go through and re-arrange everything anyway, I might as well really organize it!’”

One of those organized areas is the store’s displays of nuts, bolts, nails, and screws.

“We have one of the largest assortments, anywhere,” Mike says.

“Since a lot of it is metric, we have people come in from car dealerships and automotive stores needing a special nut or bolt for a vehicle.”

“We also get lots of woodworkers and flea market shoppers who can find the replacement nails and screws they need for knobs, cupboards, pictures, etc.,” John says. “And we can advise people about what exactly is best to use for their particular picture-hanging project.”

“People come in and sometimes look at the nuts, bolts, nails, and screws for hours. When we offer them help, quite often they say they are enjoying just looking on their own.”

For customers who do need help with products or projects, there is always an associate available.

“Our staff is great,” Mike says.

“When we hire them, we throw them right into the deep end of the pool,” John jokes.

“Since one of us is always here,” he adds, “when someone needs help, we say, ‘Stay with us while we explain, so you learn this.’ They learn as they’re doing.”

Recalling an outstanding past employees, John and Mike simultaneously begin sharing stories about “Mr. B.”

“We give all our employees nicknames,” John says. “We had a worker, ‘Mr. B.,’ whose mom would bring him here on Saturdays when he was just a young child. She’d take him up and down the aisles and pick up things to show him, explaining what they were.”

“Years later,” John continues, “some high school kids were in the store and this now-teenaged kid was asking for a job. When he left the store, his friend approached us and said, ‘You’d better hire him! He’s the smartest kid I know and has helped me get through all my math classes!”

“We did hire him,” Mike says. “Within two weeks, he knew where every single item was. He worked here through college and was hired directly from here, with an engineering degree, to be a steel plant manager. He’s a great guy and still keeps in touch.”

Generations of customers also keep in touch, bringing their children and grandchildren to run up and down the aisles’ small hills that are part of the building’s original floor.

“People have come in and told us, when they buy a new home and will be moving away, that the one thing they are going to miss is our store,” Mike says. “They will travel from Mt. Clemens or Plymouth – or anywhere – to come back to shop here.”

When customers purchase an older home, Frentz & Sons Hardware supplies the items and services they need for repairs and décor.

“We have lots of people who buy our glass doorknobs and skeleton keys for ‘vintage-style’ interior doors,” Mike says.

“And, in our warehouse, we are able to cut replacement glass for older windows — as well as for picture frames. We also have a pipe cutter to replace and thread steel pipes, including for gas lines.”

For older homes or businesses, they offer historic plaques with the building’s date, specially made in Rapid City.

“The plaques are beautiful,” Mike says, “and their sale benefits the Royal Oak Historical Commission.”

“We’ve been here for 87 years. And we’re happy to continue being part of this city’s history and part of the lives of so many customers.”

Frentz & Sons Hardware
1010 N. Main Street
Royal Oak, MI  48067












‘Dapper’ Plan Cuts Inroads in Royal Oak Hair Industry

‘Dapper’ Plan Cuts Inroads in Royal Oak Hair Industry

‘Dapper’ Plan Cuts Inroads in Royal Oak Hair Industry
MARCH 2019
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak
Sean Klosky always wanted to open his own business.

After teaching special-education at the Burger Center in Garden City and then following eight years working at a Royal Oak restaurant, Klosky decided it was time. After surveilling the neighborhood he was eyeing, Klosky launched his first-time business in an industry – hair care – about which he knew nothing.


Klosky opened Dapper House Barber Shop on Main Street in Royal Oak in May 2016. It wasn’t long before he was questioning the decision.

“If you asked me after (the first six months), I was like ‘Why did I do this?'” Klosky said, laughing. “Now I can sit here and say, ‘it changed my life.’ I couldn’t be in a better place right now.”

That’s because Dapper House is about to celebrate it’s third anniversary with a rate of growth that has the owner thinking about additional locations.

It’s difficult to estimate how much hair is actually being cut in the store, but in the three years Klosky has been in business, he’s gone from just three barbers to eight. Not bad for a barber shop you have to climb a huge staircase to reach.

“The first six months it was tough getting our name out…We’re upstairs, not everyone is seeing the bay window,” Klosky said.

“Through word of mouth and consistent cuts and consistent customer service, the word is really starting to get out there. We just keep growing.”

All of that was just a pipe dream when Klosky first started considering opening his own business. After all, he knew nothing about cutting hair, so the idea was a little out-there to begin with. But he’d worked eight years as a bartender at Monterrey Cantina, just a couple of doors down from where Dapper House is now, so he had the bedrock of small business success – customer service – covered.

As a Royal Oak resident, he knew he wanted to open in the area (in addition to Royal Oak, he considered Ferndale and Birmingham), and he knew about the upstairs space at 306 1/2 Main.

“It’s a really cool place. It’d be hard to find a good barbershop…This place feels very comfortable.”
The space previously had been leased as office space, but it had been vacant for a year, according to Klosky. After finding the space, it was a matter of convincing the landlord his business plan was sound.

“He was in need of a tenant, and I was in need of someone to trust me and my business idea,” Klosky said. “I gave him my business plan, I sat down and talked to him, and I guess I talked him into it. Not only was I a first-time business owner, but I’d never been in this industry. I sold him, and I’m grateful for him taking a chance on me.”

With a lease in hand, Klosky set about creating his vision. He hired his first three cutters and made sure they had an environment conducive to success.

“For the first six months, having the staff believe in your vision, and in you as the owner, especially when I don’t cut and I wasn’t in the trenches with them, was a big challenge,” Klosky said. “But when they see my passion, and they see what kind of person I am, and with us starting to get busy, has created an atmosphere where everyone believes in what we’re doing and in the brand.”

One of those who believes is cutter Paige Agostini, who has been with Klosky from the start.

“It’s a really accepting atmosphere,” Agostini said. “I work with all my friends. It’s like family here.”

Plymouth resident Chloe Sambrone recognizes the atmosphere created in Dapper House. She followed Agostini from a previous salon to Royal Oak.

I really like the atmosphere,” Sambrone said. “It’s a really cool place. It’d be hard to find a good barbershop…This place feels very comfortable.”

Klosky has no real interest in grabbing some scissors and joining his own staff. He’s quite content managing the place from behind the scenes.

“No, I’m going to stick with being the businessman,” he said, laughing again. “We’ve grown to be successful, so my energy and time is going into hopefully opening a second location, somewhere in metro Detroit. We’ll see, we have things in the works.”

The goal when he first leaped into his own business, Klosky said, was to have something “that could pay my bills.” He’s done better than that.

“I remember telling my family … if I can run a business that pays my bills I would feel good, because I’m doing something I want to do, it’s my own thing. It turned into something greater than that. It’s just more than I ever imagined. It really changed my life.”

306 1/2 S. Main Street
Royal Oak, MI 48067














Announcing the Grand Opening of Kaydense Galleria in Royal Oak

Announcing the Grand Opening of Kaydense Galleria in Royal Oak

Announcing the Grand Opening of Kaydense Galleria in Royal Oak
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak
On Feb. 1, Danielle Penson left her job as a high school counselor in her hometown of Detroit and followed her calling.


Penson has a doctorate degree in counseling and had been helping teenagers in high school.


“I kind of felt like, ‘What’s next?’ I’m making these little pennies, I have all this stuff going on, I’m making sacrifices,” she said. “I feel like we have jobs and they’re distracting us from our purpose. If we would just use the gifts and talents we have, everybody would be doing great things.”

And so, she created Kaydense Galleria in Royal Oak. The store is dedicated to the chic woman looking to up her fashion game. Penson had an online store for a while, but when the chance came to open a storefront on 4th Street, she jumped at it.

“My fashion is big on women empowerment and making sure women feel pretty inside and out,” Penson said. “The pieces are unique for the chic woman and they’re flexible, too. I shop really hard for pieces that people don’t have in other boutiques.”

Kaydense is full of clothing that can transition from work to going out to Saturday afternoon. Additionally, she carries sizes small through 3XL, giving women of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to look and feel their best.

The name of the store is a combination of her name as well as her husband two daughters: Danielle, Darren, Kaylee and Karynton Penson. The family lives in Oak Park.

“I’m excited. My goal is for this to expand and maintain the style for your story. Whatever we have to make you feel beautiful,” said Penson.

Tiffany M. Burnett has been a loyal customer of Penson’s for more than three years.

“Her clothes are different, very classy and you really don’t find too many of the same pieces that other people have. They definitely match your personality”
“Her clothes are different, very classy and you really don’t find too many of the same pieces that other people have. They definitely match your personality,” Burnett said.

As a curvy woman, Burnett appreciates the selection of highly fashionable clothes that fit a range of body types. However, when Penson is choosing clothes, Burnett says she takes you out of your comfort zone.

“I have to look at the clothes she chooses for me for a little bit because Danielle is the type to make you expand. I have to look at it for a minute. She has definitely broadened my horizons on fashion,” said Burnett.

But Kaydense Galleria isn’t just about helping women with their fashion. It’s also about supporting other women’s goals and giving others the opportunity to grow a business.

“I like to give women the opportunity to do pop ups,” said Penson. “I want to support other women. I went through a lot of the things in business. If I can help someone else not go through what I went through, I’m perfectly ok with that.”

During the winter months, Kaydense Galleria will be open Thursday through Sunday until the seasons change. Then, as foot traffic picks up in the warmer months, Penson said she’d consider expanding the store hours.

“We are here to serve the community and I’m looking forward to doing great things in Royal Oak and I’m real excited about what’s to come,” said Penson.

202 West 4th Street
Royal Oak, Michigan 48067














Super Car Wash: Keeping Metro Detroit Cars Sparkling Since 1977

Super Car Wash: Keeping Metro Detroit Cars Sparkling Since 1977

Super Car Wash:
Keeping Metro Detroit Cars Sparkling Since 1977
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

With apologies to William Shakespeare, if you prick Ryan Gesund, he might not bleed.

After more than two decades in the family car wash business, he may simply leak cleaning solvents.

Gesund, with his father and brother, is part of a family owned operation – Super Car Wash – that has run car washes around the metro Detroit area since 1977.


After spending a year after graduating with a degree in political science from Eastern Michigan University trying out other avenues, Ryan joined his dad and brother in the family business.

It’s a decision he hasn’t regretted.

“It was natural that we’d go into business with our father,” Ryan said. “I love the car wash business. It’s part of our blood. We’ve got wax and salt running through our veins.”

It’s been that way since 1977, when George Gesund went looking for another investment opportunity when he lost his previous business, Lucky Strike Lanes in Detroit, to a fire. According to Ryan, George had some friends in the car wash business and “he got started that way, with one car wash.”

That car was was at 11 Mile Road and Dequindre in Madison Heights. The business is still there, but the Gesunds sold it”in 1983 or 1984,” according to Ryan.

Since then, the family has bought and sold various car wash businesses, peaking out when they owned 10 at one time. Now, the Gesunds have nine Super Car Wash locations, including two in Commerce, two in Walled Lake and individual stores in Royal Oak, Eastpointe, Farmington Hills, Warren and Southfield.

CEO George Gesund is the “big picture” branch of the ownership tree. It was George’s idea, according to Ryan, to add the newest feature at the car wash: free self-serve vacuums at every location.

The other addition to the business – a $12 per month “unlimited club” that allows customers to purchase two washes a day for every day of a month – has become one of the biggest of its kind in the state, according to Ryan Gesund.

“It’s great … They take special care of you here. Unlike some places that are automatic where you get a mirror hit or some damage, these guys take great care of you.”
It’s similar to the company’s corporate/fleet service, a savings program for any business owner with a fleet of cars, trucks, or vans. Ryan sad the fleet program counts for some 20 percent of Super Car Wash’s business.

Todd Gesund, who serves as the company’s president, handles the operations aspect of the business. Todd came into the business about a year after earning a degree in finance from Grand Valley State University.

It was Todd, according to Ryan, who doubled the car washes in the business from two to four shortly after he joined his dad.

The fourth owner is Heath Stack, who handles the company’s east-side operations.

The addition of the brothers in the mid-1990s was no surprise.

“It was something my brother and I were always interested in,” Ryan said. “We worked up, as kids, every position in the car wash up until ownership. We learned it front-to-back and back-to-front.”

Ryan said he finds the daily challenges – from dealing with employee scheduling to handling individual customer issues – exciting.

“There’s always something for both of us,” Ryan said. “It’s fast-paced. We love our customers and we just love the business. We worked every position at the car wash, and now we’re owners.”

Unlike the Gesund brothers, the car wash hasn’t been a lifelong career for Phillip Officer. Now the manager of the Royal Oak location, Officer is a couple of years retired from General Motors.

He’s been at what he calls his “retirement job” for about 18 months now. And he’s having a good time.

“I like it,” said Officer. “My granddad told me, ‘You always have to keep moving.’ He always said ‘hard work never killed anybody.'”


After last week’s first big storm of the year, Officer and the owners are presiding over one of Super Car Wash’s busiest seasons. Winters, Ryan Gesund said, usually have drivers bringing their cars for cleaning at a brisk pace.

According to Ryan, the car wash sees anywhere from 300 to 1,400 cars in a typical winter day, particularly after a storm.

The business’ dependence on the weather, he said, can be a frustrating thing.

“That’s the one thing I don’t like about the business,” Ryan said with a smile. “It depends on something you can’t really depend on (the weather).”

Customers feel like they can depend on Super Car Wash though. Bloomfield resident Bob Storen said he’s a frequent customer because the staff does the one thing he counts on.

“It’s great … They take special care of you here,” Stored said. “Unlike some places that are automatic where you get a mirror hit or some damage, these guys take great care of you.”

Twenty-two years after deciding to come into the family business, Ryan Gesund – who handles the accounting and is the business’ in-house legal mind – has no regrets.

“I eventually decided this was in my blood,” Ryan said. “I found an area of the business I love and that I’m good at. I love it.”

Super Car Wash
31295 Woodward
Royal Oak, Michigan














Lifetime ‘Love Affair’ with Comedy: Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle Celebrates 40-Year Milestone

Lifetime ‘Love Affair’ with Comedy: Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle Celebrates 40-Year Milestone

Lifetime ‘Love Affair’ with Comedy: Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle Celebrates 40-Year Milestone
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak
Comedy Castle owner Mark Ridley settles into his office chair, chuckling at the sight of a sparkly 40th-anniversary banner someone snuck in and hung on a cabinet.

He and his staff are pulling out the stops to celebrate the milestone by bringing in big-name acts such as Louie Anderson and Preacher Lawson.


A club regular for 20 years, Derek Boczkowski, 47, of Rochester Hills will be seeing as many shows as he can this year.

“Mark books the best acts and he has a keen eye for talent,” says Boczkowski, who works in the sports and entertainment industry. “It’s a very enjoyable night out for me. And he has a well-run club so it’s a win-win situation.”

Boczkowski handles the “social coordinating” for his friends, he says. “We meet up at a (nearby) barbecue place and then walk over to the club. It’s easy to get to.”

The comedy club Ridley has nurtured over four decades began because of his own “love affair with the art of comedy,” he explains.

Ridley grew up in Walled Lake in a “showbizzy” family. “There was a cover charge to come to our family reunions,” he says, laughing.

He loved comedy even as a kid. “My parents used to give me a comedy album for birthdays, Christmas,” he says. “I had Don Rickles, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, quite a collection.”

Ridley graduated from Wayne State University with the idea of going into the film business.  He ventured out to Los Angeles hoping to “get in on the ground floor.”

At night he’d stop in at The Comedy Store and The Improv to catch rising comedians. “I got to see Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Robin Williams, all this fabulous live comedy,” he says.

“Mark books the best acts and he has a keen eye for talent. It’s a very enjoyable night out for me. And he has a well-run club so it’s a win-win situation.”
But the search for work didn’t pan out so he came back to the metro area and worked as a waiter. “But I kept that thought (about live comedy) in the back of my mind,” he says.

In 1979, he approached one of his restaurant connections with the idea of starting a club inside an existing restaurant, The Meating Place in Bloomfield Hills.

Ridley would get the door receipts, the owner would sell the food. “It was an immediate success,” he says.

The club moved six times over the years until landing a permanent 400-seat home in Royal Oak in 1991.

Tim Allen, one of Ridley’s early finds in comedy, was the headliner for that big night.

The club is open four nights for comedy, with Wednesdays devoted to newcomers trying out “Open Mic.”

Club regulars Steve and Patty Smith of Warren went to an Open Mic Night three years ago. “We fell in love with (the club),” Patty says. “It’s so much fun.”

Steve, a teacher, loves how affordable tickets are. “Mark does a remarkable job of getting talent there on a regular basis,” he says.

Patty, who handles purchasing for a small auto supplier, loves that tickets are easy to buy online and that she receives emails alerting her about upcoming comedians.

Comedy great Kathleen Madigan is one of Patty’s favorites. “I’ve seen her there six times,” she says. “Normally she plays larger venues but she is willing to come (to Ridley’s club). That tells you something about Mark as a person.”

The club offers comedy training, and also is the site of many charitable events. “We’ve got 25 events on the books already this year,” says Ridley.

Two walls in the club are covered with photos of the comedians who have stood onstage over the years. Everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Ellen Degeneres is up there.

Ridley, now 68, says he opened the club at “the right moment.” There wasn’t much competition and new young standup comics were just coming on the scene.

The club was remodeled a few years ago, and additional touches (carpeting, etc.)  are coming this year, says the boss.

Ridley is grooming his stepson Casey Cullen to take over one day, but not quite yet.

My wife Sara and I talked about who we’ll have here for the 50th anniversary,” he says. “I’m not quitting.”

Open Mic Nights cost $5 and start 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
90-minute comedy shows run Thursday-Saturday
Thursdays show 7:30 p.m., tickets $10-30
Fridays shows 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., $18-35
Saturdays shows 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., $18-35
Ample parking, menu includes burgers, fries, nachos, pretzel sticks, full bar. No smoking.

310 South Troy Street,
Royal Oak, MI 48067














Joe’s Army Navy: A Great Place for Stocking Stuffers

Joe’s Army Navy: A Great Place for Stocking Stuffers

Joe’s Army Navy: A Great Place for Stocking Stuffers




LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

Jeff Goldsmith has never met a gas mask he didn’t like. Good thing for him they fit right in at Joe’s Army Navy Surplus.

Jeff Goldsmith is now the owner of the store, which has been a Royal Oak mainstay since 1976.

“Dad bought the business with a partner in 1972 when it was in Pontiac,” said Goldsmith.



After Goldsmith’s dad, Herman, split with his business partner in the 1970s, he kept the Pontiac store, while the ex-partner opened a store in Royal Oak. Herman decided to move the store from Pontiac to Waterford, where they still do a brisk business.

Jeff Goldsmith joined his father in the business in 1985.

Three years later, Herman bought the inventory from the Royal Oak store in a bank auction from his ex-partner and re-opened Joe’s Army Navy in Royal Oak on Main Street. Then, in 2001, as parking became more and more of an issue, they moved the store north on Woodward Avenue.

Now, at 87, Herman is retired, but still comes in to the store every day. “He does the payables, but he’s not as active on the floor as he used to be,” said Jeff Goldsmith. “He makes my life easier.”

While the store carries family history for the Goldsmiths, it’s a virtual treasure trove for military enthusiasts, preppers, those who spend a lot of time outdoors and anyone who is serious about staying warm in the winter.

Joe’s carries all kinds of cold weather gear from authentic military pea coats, hats and gloves, to Carhartt brand apparel, boots that protect against the cold to minus 10 degrees and long johns.

Not what you’re looking for? Goldsmith said he has 200 kinds of pocket knives, 40 different tactical boots, 30 distinctive tent stakes, 12 brands of military and commercial blankets and a wall of bags.

“And year-round we sell thousands and thousands of socks,” said Goldsmith.

“If you’re looking for gear, they’ve got it from A to Z here.”

Not blind to the conveniences of online shopping, Goldsmith is proud to be able to offer those who need a break from the cold an excellent selection, without the wait for delivery.

Michael Stone, of Warren, is one of those people. “I was looking for a pair of boots,” he said. “I have construction boots on and sometimes they just don’t cut it. If you’re looking for gear, they’ve got it from A to Z here.”

Stone said that this purchase was his first at Joe’s Army Navy, but it won’t be his last. In fact, he plans on bringing his girlfriend to the store soon to do some shopping.

But Joe’s Army Navy has even more interesting things going for it. Take the military surplus items available. While the United States military no longer sells surplus items at auction, other countries still do. Shoppers can find coats from Germany, gas masks from Israel and blankets from Croatia. A wall of ammo cans in every size and camouflage tarping is at the back of the store. Military carry consignment items are also available, so those interested in U.S. military items can find a few gems, too.

“Army Navy stores have an aura of ‘You never know what you’ll find,’” said Goldsmith. “I don’t want them to find something they can get in a Dick’s or Dunham’s. We’re kind of a catch-all.”

Shoppers can also have personalized military dog tags made in the store for just one person, or a whole party. Morale patches, military pins, first aid supplies, flashlights and MREs—meals ready to eat—all make unique gift ideas.

“We’re like the kings of stocking stuffers,” said Goldsmith.

32302 Woodward Ave
Royal Oak, MI 48073

981 West Huron
Waterford, MI 48328