40-Love Lifestyle store a Manhasset smash

40-Love Lifestyle store a Manhasset smash
Shauna Devardo (left) and Fiona Branchinelli opened 40-Love Lifestyle 18 months ago in Manhasset. Photo credit: Michael J. Lewis

Like so many great business partnerships do, this one began at a bar, with two people discussing a shared problem.

Fiona Branchinelli was a longtime tennis player and fan, and her friend and neighbor, Shauna Devardo, was new to the game but loving it.

The two Manhassetites had come off the court at their country club in 2021 and, over drinks, were talking about how the area didn’t have any good women’s apparel stores.

“Shauna was saying how we really need a place to buy cute tennis outfits and actually try them on, a good place to try rackets, and not just order online and then you don’t know exactly if you’re going to like it,” Branchinelli said.

“And the more we talked and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like something we should do, and could do,” Devardo said.

That conversation was the brainchild that became 40-Love Lifestyle, located at 439 Plandome Road in Manhasset. Opened in June 2022, the store sells athletic leisurewear, along with tennis and pickleball rackets and equipment, and more.

The partners said that almost from the start, the strong tennis communities of Port Washington and Manhasset have responded positively, and business is booming to the point where they’re discussing expanding to another location.

It’s all been kind of a whirlwind for Devardo and Branchinelli; neither had experience in retail; Devardo said she owned some bakeries in her 20’s, while Branchinelli said she went to school for fashion merchandise marketing.

“It has been exciting and overwhelming, just everything we had to learn and how we had to earn the trust of (manufacturers) and customers,” Branchinelli said.

“And we’re one of the only women-owned businesses on Plandome Road, and we’re very proud of that,” Devardo added.

Once the idea was hatched and a shop location was found, there were many obstacles to overcome. The biggest was getting major tennis equipment and apparel manufacturers to believe in them, and allow their merch to be sold.

“We got so many ‘no’s and so many ‘what are you crazy? We’re in the middle of Covid and you guys want to open a store now?” Branchinelli said. “So much negativity. But we basically stalked sales reps for the big companies, and wore them down.”

Their results are apparent in the store; Major tennis companies like Babolat, Wilson, and Head are all prominently displayed.

But the women said they made sure to also offer higher-end tennis merchandise; things like Swarovski crystal racket dampeners are also available at 40-Love.

In addition to clashes with manufacturers, the partners had to learn the tennis world, and spent many nights “on the phone at 3 a.m. with China” getting the business up and running,” Devardo said.

But the results have been worth the work. The women said that their clients range from kids and parents learning the junior tennis circuit, who come in asking about string tension and the best racquet to use to get a competitive edge, to older tennis players who want a re-stock on their gear, to women seeking skirts and other leisure wear.

And they’ve grown to nine employees besides themselves, plus a large number of online orders come in through their website, 40lovelifestyle.com.

“It was important to us that we had the lifestyle part in the name, because we cater to people who want a certain color bag to go with their racket, and a lot of other individualized stuff,” Branchinelli said. “We want people to have fun with their equipment.”

The 40 Love owners said that if things continue well, they’d like to expand to another city.
But they’re not quite on the same page there.

“Maybe Greenwich, Conn.,” Branchinelli offered.

“How about someplace warm?” Devardo added, with a laugh.

“But honestly it’s important to us that if we were to expand, that the people (running) another store were as invested as we are,” Devardo said. “We’re a couple of local Moms, we’ve tried something, and it’s been working. So that’s been really exciting and rewarding.”


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