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Lords of Gastown Opens New Showroom

Nik Dean & Tyler Hazelwood

Nik Dean & Tyler Hazelwood

Local lifestyle apparel brand Lords of Gastown (LG) held a soft opening of their brand new showroom on January 30 and 31 in East Van, and Style by Fire was there to check it out.  I was aware of LG but their target market falls outside my usual circles so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I ventured into their hidden lair.

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There was an intimate crowd of mostly guys in denim and black leather hanging out, chugging back beer and chatting on top of groovy tunes.  I felt like I had walked into someone’s house party.  Everyone turned around to look at me; it was obvious I was an outsider.  I introduced myself, and the next moment found myself being welcomed with open arms, my hand holding a pale ale, and being taken on a tour of the new digs.

Jill Kacic

Jill Kacic

The LG Compound is called a compound for good reason – the showroom is only one part of the space, and it seamlessly blends into the garage which is used to customize and repair motorcycles.  Right beside the garage is the production area with a screen printing machine and sewing machine where the Co-Designer/Head Seamstress Jill Kacic works.  Down the hallway from the showroom is a spacious bar and lounge area, as well as tattoo parlour.  It became clear that LG is about fostering the motorcycle lifestyle and community by building a one-stop home for its enthusiasts to socialize in and have both their personal style and that of their bikes taken care of.

Who are the Lords of Gastown?  Tyler Hazelwood and Nik Dean, both 34, are long-time friends and share a passion for motorcycles.  They both lived in Gastown and had their routine bars where they hung out on a regular basis, which is how they got the nickname Lords of Gastown.  As a joke, they started getting t-shirts made with this name emblazoned on them.  Before long, their friends also wanted to wear these t-shirts.  They started discussing clothes and what they wanted to see available to buy, which led to designing their signature ‘True OG’ jacket in 2009.  With the help of Kacic, they started producing this jacket which features leather sleeves, denim body and black patch on the back featuring the LG graphic.  Soon they started picking up vintage jackets and re-working them the LG way, sewing on patches and altering the sleeves, etc.  Their popularity grew rapidly, leading them to expand their repertoire of apparel to include hoodies, tank tops, toques, and vests.  They began collaborating with other brands and artists, including LA shoe brand Pskaufman with whom they co-produced a limited edition line of leather boots.  Hazelwood and Dean’s mothers have even jumped onboard to help with producing a side line of children’s wear with miniature versions of the adult apparel.

LG caught the eye of iconic motorcycle brand Harley Davidson, who has picked up the apparel line and now carries it in its Langley, Kamloops, and Edmonton dealerships, with plans to expand to eastern Canada and overseas.  The demand for stock and customized pieces has created the need for the LG Compound to showcase their products to potential buyers.  Kacic is now training a team of seamstresses to take over some of the production work.  What started out as a silly joke amongst drunken friends has grown into the beginnings of an empire – LG is a prime example of the ‘follow your passion and the money will follow’ school of thought.

Besides LG’s astuteness in tapping into a niche in the apparel market, it’s the team’s warm openness that impressed me.  These motorbiking aficionados are affable and laidback, care about aesthetics and design, and look stylish while cruising their Harleys around town.  They made me want to own a bike of my own just so I could hang out at their digs and talk shop with the boys.

The LG compound is located at 49 Dunlevy Avenue in East Van.  Their apparel can also be found locally at the Menu Skateboard Shop in Gastown, as well as online.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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Shoppers Drug Mart to open flagship Beauty Boutique in Downtown Vancouver

Shoppers Drug Mart BeautyBoutique Beauty Boutique Vancouver Burrard Street Colin Arber Retail Insider

This article was first posted on Retail Insider.

Sources tell us that Shoppers Drug Mart will open a 4,100 square foot standalone flagship BeautyBoutique in downtown Vancouver, next to the world’s second-largest Victoria’s Secret store. The street-level store will replace retailer ‘Off The Wall’ and will feature a Burrard Street frontage. It will compete with a new, massive Sephora store scheduled to open next winter on the 1000 block of Robson Street, only a couple hundred feet away.

BeautyBoutique layout

Shoppers first debuted its high-end enhanced BeautyBoutique concept last year at Toronto’s Bayview Village Shopping Centre; the second opened in the Toronto EatonCentre this past summer.

Downtown Vancouver has several major cosmetic retail competitors, including Sephora. In addition to its current location at Pacific Centre, Sephora will also be opening one of its largest Canadian locations on Robson Street in the winter of 2014. Other competitors have either been upping their game or preparing for their entry into the Vancouver market. Hudson’s Bay, for example, has been putting much effort into the ongoing revitalization of its Downtown Vancouver flagship store. Its expanded cosmetics floor is close to an acre in size and is now the largest in Western North America. Holt Renfrew continues to show strong cosmetics sales, and future Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenuestores will even further increase competition for Downtown Vancouver’s cosmetics dollar.

With all of these different cosmetics retailers in Downtown Vancouver, it’s hard to say whether BeautyBoutique will create any extra excitement for Vancouver shoppers. Competition will be fierce. Shoppers Drug Mart already has an existing higher-end concept, Murale, though it hasshuttered two of eight locations across Canada. Let’s take a look at the differences between Murale and the new enhanced BeautyBoutiques, and how the new concept might prove successful.

Shoppers 1

For those unfamiliar with Murale, it is an offshoot brand launched in 2008 by Shoppers Drug Mart to move into the high-end cosmetics category. Murale’s brands include Bobbi Brown, Anna Sui, Cargo, Caudalie, Nars and more. These brands make a distinct differentiation between drug store brands such as Maybelline and L’Oréal, but share some crossover brands like Clinique and Stila. The store design is clean and minimal, with a lot of white space, and merchandising isn’t structured in aisles as in the drug store BeautyBoutiques.

Introduced in 2003, the in-store Shoppers Drug Mart BeautyBoutiques occupy prominent real estate, many of which have separate entrances to create a different experience for cosmetics lovers. The South Granville location in Vancouver, in particular, takes up the majority of the second floor of the neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart.

Shoppers 2

The new “enhanced” BeautyBoutique takes the in-store concept one step further by bringing in higher end brands (Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, for example) and stepping up the store design, which was inspired by a gift box, and the unravelling of a ribbon to reveal a gift. According to Shoppers, “The ribbon concept can be seen in the elements of the store design including the digital signage wrapped around the boutique and the finishing elements extending over the fixtures to the ceiling.” In a nutshell, it’s a Sephora-like experience.

If one high-end Shoppers beauty concept (Murale) didn’t work out, why would the company repeat similar efforts? One reason could be because a new store like Murale might have required stronger branding support for customers to understand its relationship to Shoppers Drug Mart. On the other hand, the new high-end beauty concept is also located separately from Shoppers, and it was a great idea to leverage off the existing BeautyBoutique name instead of creating a whole new brand like Murale, even though the BeautyBoutique brand seems strong enough on its own. According to Sandra Sanderson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Shoppers, in a Chain Drug Review article, when consumers heard about BeautyBoutique they already had the impression it was a separate store. We don’t know whether they had done similar research with Murale.

Shoppers 3

There’s also a direct correlation between Shoppers’ BeautyBoutiques and its popular Shoppers Optimum rewards program. This may be a key difference between it and Murale. If consumers didn’t know Murale was a Shoppers concept, for example, there would have been less incentive to shop there. This is especially the case since Sephora has a strong Beauty Insiders loyalty program. Lastly, we’ll have to see whether the new enhanced BeautyBoutique will help drive online sales, as Amazon, Walmart, and Sephora’s e-commerce platforms are highly competitive whereas cosmetics sold at Shoppers Drug Mart concepts rely heavily on foot traffic.

If the enhanced concept proves successful, it might be in Shoppers’ best interest to shutter the Murale chain and concentrate on what’s working. Either way, it will be interesting to see another beauty giant enter Downtown Vancouver’s retail landscape.

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Experience Headphones: For the Fashion-Conscious Shopper

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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.

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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.

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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!

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“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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Gastown Boutiques Launch eCommerce Stores

Not sure if this a trend in Vancouver, but opening up an ecommerce store just before the impending holidays has been observed for a second year in a row. This time around, Gastown boutiques take the lead in the online retail scene.

One of a Few

one of a few online

The new One of a Few website officially launched on November 27th, 2013. The new site is a much simpler and cleaner departure from what I can remember of the former black background website. There  was very little information on it, and didn’t quite communicate the boutique’s personality too well.
one of a few estore

At the new One of a Few site, I’m captivated by the beautiful scrolling photography on the home page. Photographs of Repetto oxfords, cork jewelry, Lissu linens, and more create a very styling environment. Adding items to your cart is simple enough, and there are thumbnail images to remind you of what you’ve shopped.

One suggestion would be that the images of shoes should also have a side angle view. When scrolling through the footwear page, I would have easily bypassed the entire Rachel Comey line, had I not already known about her popular designs.

A very great start for One of a Few’s first ecommerce store, and I look forward to seeing more amazing brands.

Cavalier

cavalier shoppe
What we love about new Gastown jeweler, Cavalier, is that “a percentage of every piece sold goes towards a local charity.” And Cavalier is the only jewellery store in Canada to do this. And now you can shop and do good any time of the day, anywhere in the world with the launch of Keith Seabrook and Dave Stevens’ online shoppe.

I love the simplicity of the black and white website, with great product photgraphy. On the Designers’ page, there are short bios included to give shoppers context of the product they’re purchasing. Although there are product images on the Designers page, it would be nice if the shown products were linked to an ecommerce page so shoppers could directly add to their cart.

And on the ecommerce page, it would be great if shoppers didn’t have to click on a shopping cart to get to the detailed product page. Seeing that shopping cart increases my anxiety tenfold, thinking that I have to add it into my cart.

cavalier shoppe product

Not sure if this is a Shopify thing, but when I clicked into a product’s detailed page on my 11″ Macbook Air, half the length of the page was dedicated to the Cavalier logo. The image of the product wasn’t even above the fold! It’s little things like these that make a big impression to potential shoppers.

So far, so good at the Cavalier Shoppe. Can’t wait to see what exciting new lines, social initiatives, or ecommerce updates these guys have planned next.

Words by Miranda Sam

Photos: First One of a Few image taken via their Facebook page, first Cavalier image taken from their newsletter, the remaining are screenshots.

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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

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

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.

J.Crew

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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Tory Burch Opens First Standalone Store in Vancouver

Tory Burch-4

The third Canadian Tory Burch location officially opened in Vancouver on 1092 Alberni Street on Saturday, October 19th. Locations in Toronto and Calgary preceded our city’s store. (If you’re thinking “Calgary before Vancouver?!” you’re not alone. Apparently the Chinook Mall in Calgary is quite the hot spot.) Aprecursor to the public launch was a friends & family gathering on the night before. I was surprised to learn of such a low key opening for this coveted brand.

Photo c/o @toryburch

Photo c/o @toryburch

Photo c/o Dress to Kill Magazine

Photo c/o Dress to Kill Magazine

The store occupies 2 floors separated by type of product: the entrance level houses the latest clothing and accessories like gloves while merchandising in handbags. Up on the second floor you’ll find a beautifully ‘gold-plated’ handbag room with built-in shelving. According to Dress to Kill Magazine, “White-washed oak floors, gold leaf chandeliers and raffia walls serve as neutral backdrop for a one of a kind mix of furnishings in a vibrant palette – teal velvet sofas, seafoam taffeta drapes and green lacquer shelving.” Stepping into the shoe parlour, you’ll find a distinctly different feel: two face to face love seats anchor the room, creating an intimate shopping experience for the serious shopper. Row upon row of Reva ballet flats line the shoe section so you don’t have to worry about a lack of colour choices or running out of your size.

 

Tory Burch Robinson

The one thing I narrowed it down to was the Robinson mini shoulder bag. Given that most handbags I have are black with gold detailing, I tried to stay away from that colour combo. And the next best thing was the one in “Luggage.” But when it came down to it, my friend convinced me that this was too “daytime” of a colour if my goal was to get an evening clutch. Oh well, back to black and gold?!

Whenever you get the chance to pass through Alberni Street (aka Affluent Alley), leave us a comment below of what you think of the new store!

By Miranda Sam

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Jennyfleur Loves Farewell Shopping Party

Jennyfleur Closing Party-6

Jennyfleur Loves is a women’s fashion boutique that’s called Yaletown home over the past three years.  Owners Jennifer Gray and Shaughnessey Chow-Domos have decided to bid farewell to Yaletown and look for new digs. In the meantime, customers can still get their shopping fix via their online store.

JL held one last shopping party on October 24th to mark the end of a chapter and the beginning of the next with wine and appetizers, as well as major slashing of prices on most items in the store.  Browsing its intimate interior, it is apparent that JL specializes in unique funky pieces that bring out the rocker in you.  My friend Shay Lhea and I immediately noticed a pair of denim shorts by the UK brand Bitching and Junkfood which was covered in black straps and included a modified garter.  How often does one come across shorts that have their own built-in lingerie-like detailing?

Jennyfleur Closing Party-10

Shay tried on a two-piece dress, also by the same UK brand, which made her look like a slinky million bucks, and what do you know, the print on it consisted of rows of Japanese yen bills.  I bought a silver bustier by Nameless Apparel for a steal deal which will be featured in a future post.

Sorry to see JL leave but looking forward to see it pop up again in a new location!

Photos + Words by Aurora Chan

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Jennyfleur Loves Says Goodbye to Yaletown

Jennyfleur Final Party

Must all good things come to an end? For Jennifer Gray, owner of Jennyfleur Loves boutique in Yaletown, not so much. She says, “We have not found another location that is suitable for us yet, so for now we will remain online. You may see us in the future ‘popping up.'” Being located within a building in Yaletown without a window to the street to attract foot traffic can be hard for any retailer. We wish Jennifer and her daughter Shaughnessey the best of luck finding another retail location – especially because we’ve only stopped by the lovely boutique once!

STYLE SHEET

  • What | Jennyfleur Loves’ Last Shopping Party
  • Where | 110-1058 Mainland St
  • When | 5 – 9pm
  • Why | Drinks & in-store specials

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Joe’s Jeans to Open at Oakridge November 2013

Joe's jeans Oakridge-2

I stopped by Oakrdige Centre, and noticed that Joe’s Jeans will be arriving at the mall soon. Personally I don’t have that much experience with the brand, as there aren’t many places in the city that carry it. The only pair of Joe’s I have is a pair of knee-length crops I picked up from Nordstrom Rack. Hopefully Vancouverites will get to know the brand better through the first Canadian Joe’s Jeans location.

Joe's jeans Oakridge-1

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