Hamilton Ontario-based luxury multi-brand women's fashion retailer Milli is revamping its operations, including opening a replacement location in Toronto's posh Yorkville area. We spoke with Milli’s Vice President to gain insight into how the small, independent retailer is beating competition through exceptional designer product curation and personalized customer service.
Retail store Milli was founded by Milli Gould in 1964 in Hamilton. Ms. Gould traveled to Europe to get the best brands possible, fostering relationships with some of the world’s top fashion houses. Milli’s taste and brand selection soon caught the attention of affluent Toronto women, who would make the 45-minute drive to Hamilton to shop at Ms. Gould’s store. Lunch would be served in the Hamilton store, and women would spend the afternoon shopping for unique pieces from top international brands.
As traffic congestion became increasingly worse in Southern Ontario, however, the trip from Toronto to Hamilton became increasingly arduous. In order to better serve her Toronto clients, Ms. Gould opened a boutique in 2002 at 100 Bloor Street West in the city’s upscale Yorkville area. The 100 Bloor space faces north onto Village of Yorkville Park, with exposure onto Cumberland Street.
We spoke with Milli’s Vice President (and son of the founder) Ben Gould, who revealed that Milli has purchased a nearby property to relocate its Toronto operations. Some clients complained that parking and accessibility was a challenge at 100 Bloor, and the new store will feature on-site parking. Located at 231 Avenue Road (corner of Roxborough Street), the new 2,200 square foot two-level Milli location will open this fall. The new store is especially strategic, as it is even closer to affluent clients who live in nearby areas such as South Hill/Casa Loma, Forest Hill and Rosedale. Renderings of the new store in this article are courtesy of STAMP Architecture.
Mr. Gould revealed that Milli’s 5,000 square foot Hamilton store will see changes by the fall of 2016 as the retailer refreshes its existing operations, though details have yet to be finalized. Some new brands may be added to both locations, though Milli's roster of designers is already impressive. Labels such as Valentino, Alberta Ferretti, Brunello Cucinelli, Erdem, Etro, Lanvin, Missoni and others are carried, with a selection catering to Milli’s fashionable clients. Adding to this is Milli’s exceptionally personalized customer service, resulting in tremendously loyal customer base. Although expansion outside of Toronto and Hamilton is a possibility at some point in the future, Mr. Gould said that his company will first focus on making Milli’s two locations the best that they can be.