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Experience Headphones: For the Fashion-Conscious Shopper


Experience Headphones opened on Saturday, November 30th on South Granville. This Vancouver’s first techie headphones boutique that’s geared toward the fashionista: their lines of headphones include leather-wrapped earbuds by Molami to a Rebecca Minkoff collection with FRENDS. Apparently fashion-forward headphones represent a $1.6 billion market, and continues to grow at 20% per year.


Experience Headphones Inc. was founded in July 2013 by Dean Horsfield, a former employee of Best Buy Corporate headquarters in Burnaby, Canada. He saw an opportunity to capitalize on the booming trend of fashion-forward headphones, and after unsuccessfully pitching the idea to Best Buy decided to build out the concept on his own. The company now has over 100 SKU’s from 11 different brands and is in talks with another three brands to be added early in the New Year. It also has a solid plan for expansion: 2 more stores are planned for the Vancouver market (at Metorotwn and YVR) before expanding to cities in other provinces.

The design of the store could easily remind your average consumer of an Apple store, but that’s a good thing since both brands cater toward a stylish shopper. Row upon row of listening stations line the store down both walls. The wooden floor and resting board for the headphones brings some nature into the store. The design could have went fully minialistic, clean, and white. But I feel that a touch of nature softens the look, and prevents the store from having an overly clinical atmosphere.


To be quite honest, I didn’t even know this segment of the market existed until fairly recently. But now that I know about it, I can’t help but think that the marketers behind these headphone brands, as well as Experience, did a great job with their products! I don’t think I want anything else other than stylish headphones!


“We started as an online shop but saw a gap in the market to open a storefront where customers can actually try on and experience the headphones, says CEO and Co-Founder, Dean Horsfield. He adds, “We are ushering in a new way of thinking about music marketing and consumer preferences by focusing on the experience. How you feel when you wear your headphones, how they sound when you plug them in, and how they look when you wear them on the street.”

I love that everything in the store is on display for shoppers to interact and play with. If Dean’s idea was given the green light by Best Buy execs, the headphones would likely be behind secured display cases.

What’s stopping you from experiencing stylish headphones?

Experience Headphone is located at 3057 Granville St.

Photos via Experience Headphones

Words by Miranda Sam

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Park Royal’s $150 Million Retail Expansion

Park Royal-08

So it has begun. Part of Park Royal‘s $150 million expansion and renovation was officially unveiled this past Saturday, November 30th, 2013. The expansion project includes 300,000 square feet of new retail space, some of which shoppers can experience as part of Park Royal South.

Style by Fire was there on the grand opening day, observing festivities such as opening remarks by the Mayor of West Vancouver, a speech by Rick Amantea, Park Royal’s VP of Community Partnerships & Development, and blessing ceremonies by Squamish Nation representatives as Park Royal sits on Native land. Two art pieces were unveiled during the ceremony, one of which is pictured above.

Stores opened in time for the launch included Ann Taylor’s LOFT, Sephora, Anthropologie, LUSH Cosmetics, J.Crew and Zara.


LOFT Park Royal Storefront 1

Photo via Edelman

According to Retail Insider, LOFT opened its first Vancouver-area store on November 15th. The younger sister line to Ann Taylor, LOFT opened its first store in Yorkdale in 2012. This one in Park Royal marks its 6th in a year’s time. We can see rapid expansion from this brand, which I’m sure has been very well received.

When we checked out the store, I was surprised to find the price points in a fantastic price range. Many items were under $100.

Sarah Bancroft, editor of Vitamin Daily, hosted the store opening. She had a rack of Editor’s Picks, which included the versatile black she’s seen wearing.


Anthropologie opened its 2nd location at Park Royal, the first being on South Granville. In other cities I’ve traveled to, I’ve always noticed there was an Anthropologie in the main downtown core. In Vancouver, it’s not quite the case. Both South Granville and West Vancouver are considered more destination shopping areas, as in most of the folks in Vancouver must make a special trip out there. I’m not certain whether this is simply a case of availability and timing in terms of real estate. But with the higher price points, a slower introduction to higher-traffic shopping areas, and building a solid fan base in premium markets might be a good bet.

As always, Anthropologie has unbeatable merchandising. We saw some of the nicest styled dining tables there! Shoppers here, however, do pay a premium for the extravagant decor. Picking up a simple printed greeting card, I thought might be something around $5; turned out to be $8. Just because I’m a budget shopper doesn’t mean everyone else is. On Park Royal’s opening day there was no shortage of shoppers flying through Anthropologie’s doors.


The 3rd J. Crew at Park Royal follows Vancouver’s first on Robson Street, and the second in Pacific Centre. A move to reach non-downtown residents makes total sense for this brand. Although I’m sure a huge portion of their fans are corporate workers, the relaxed casual styles the brand offers definitely fits the West Van demographic.

One shopping conundrum I always have is with winter coats. If it looks pretty, it’s not warm. Or vice versa. This orange jacket I tried on is seriously one of the best I’ve tried on in the past few years! It’s your standard double-breasted coat that comes in an intersting orange colour.

It’s no surprise when I looked at the tag inside, it read “Stadium Cloth by Nello Gori.” According to the J.Crew website, their stadium cloth is exclusively made by the famed Italian Nello Gori factory inspired by fabric used in old-school stadium blankets. It’s “a compact, high-density wool that adds tremendous warmth without the bulk.”

Warmth and style. I like.

Zara Man

Impressive army-like mannequins greet incoming customers

Impressive army-like mannequins greet incoming customers

This is one of the largest Zara locations in Vancouver, with the men’s section taking up as much real estate as the women’s. We walked in through Zara Man, and were greeted by an army of 6 mannequins. The rest of the store was equally impressive. For me, it was the first time seeing such a grand display of men’s clothing in compartments. Shoppers would go through various sections of the store, as if it were different closets to choose from.

Store design wise, I also loved the huge TV screen above the cash desk. What better way to keep a man entertained during the act of shopping. Although the stylish men who come through the store are likely more than willing to be there. Also loved the accessories section where scarves, bow ties, hats, and fragrances were neatly displayed in a much more organized and high-end manner. If you check out the Zara at Park Royal, I recommend going in through the men’s side first.

Zara Woman

Photos by Aurora Chan and Miranda Sam (unless otherwise noted)

Words by Miranda Sam

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Joe Fresh Opens 3rd Vancouver Location on Robson Street

Joe Fresh Robson-01

A third Joe Fresh store has arrived to keep its sister store on Granville Street and North Vancouver company, this time on the pivotal Robson shopping strip.  It officially opened on Black Friday, November 29th at 7am.  And to salute the adoption of the US version of Boxing Day, Joe Fresh is offering a buy one, get the second at 50% off special until Sunday December 1st (excluding jewellery, sunglasses, and cosmetics).

Joe Fresh Robson-02

The new Fresh on the block is basically a compact version of its Granville counterpart at 2000 square feet.  Taking up one loft style floor, a focused selection of all the main lines can be found, including women’s business, casual, and sleepwear, as well as men’s casual.

In anticipation of the impending holiday season, a significant portion of the current stock is blinged out with sequins, gold threading, and lace.  Even the puffy vests are sequined on the front!

Joe Fresh Robson-07

One curious note about the fitting rooms – the doors are completely mirrored on the outside which looks very sleek and modern; however, you need to squat down and reach under the door to open it.  Maybe this is a way to get the staff to get a bit of a workout while working?

Joe Fresh Robson-03

I’m a loyal Joe Fresh customer myself, or more accurately, my lips are.  They are loving the lip glosses which come as a wand in a tube.  Most glosses are just about glossiness, while Fresh’s contain equal parts pigment and gloss.  So your lips are not only shiny, they get a dash of colour as well.  Give them a try, they’re only $8!  Only available at the Granville store (perhaps the North Van location) and the Joe Fresh cosmetics section in Superstore.

Joe Fresh is located at 1164 Robson Street. Store hours Monday to Saturday are 9am – 9pm, Sunday 10am-8pm.

Photos + Words by Aurora Chan

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Retail Alert: Old Navy Opens New Store in Downtown Vancouver

Old Navy-16

Old Navy has finally arrived in Vancouver proper, and not only that, it has landed the prime real estate at the busy corner of Robson and Granville.  It’s been years since I’ve been in their store, a big reason being that it would take me 30 minutes to get to the nearest location at Metropolis Metrotown.  Now it’s a much too convenient 5 minute stroll from my office.

Historically, Old Navy has been known to me as the lower end version of The Gap.  Walking into their shiny huge two-level institution, I could see that although this may still be true, they’ve expanded and upscaled their branding over the years.  In a nutshell, they basically cover every spectrum of leisure activity one might engage in, from hiking up the Chief to couch surfing at home.  And what brand located in Vancouver doesn’t corner the yoga/active wear market as well.  Old Navy is all about the basics and providing multitudes of it in different colours, all at very reasonable prices.

The ground floor was dedicated to the women, starting with the very basic plain tank top, all the way to full winter coats.  The second floor was for the men and children.  The children’s line was where the fun really was, with adorable Ninja Turtles and Toy Story t-shirts with stuck-on googly eyes and tiny toques emblazoned with the Spiderman and Batman logos.  There was even a karaoke rocket ship catered for tots with retro 50’s bebop tunes playing inside with words you could sing along to.  How many stores offer the option for tired mothers and their brood to engage in a singing break in the middle of shopping?

An expedition to a clothing store isn’t complete without a bit of retail therapy.  My virgin purchase was a sand coloured long sleeved waffle top with a cute red fox on the front for $16.94 (see photo).  What does the fox say? Old Navy, duh.  I’ve always loved waffle tops – they’re a great alternative to a t-shirt for colder days with its slightly thicker material that adds substance and structure so it’s not clinging to your bulges and yet still outlines your form.  I love them so much that I bought two; the second one was off-white and plain on special for $6!

As I was wandering around, the countdown to the soft opening of the store was quickly approaching at just an hour away.  All the staff gathered around the ringleader for one last pep talk.  There was a lot of whooping and high fives; it was encouraging to see the morale was on high and the troop’s faces looked sincerely shiny and happy to serve the onslaught of eager shoppers.

Old Navy has its official grand opening this Friday, November 15th, with the first 500 shoppers receiving a free tote giveaway.  On Saturday the 16th, the first 500 lucky shoppers to make any purchase will receive a women’s puffy vest.  Just another incentive to check out the newest addition to hit the crucial Robson corridor!

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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