Upscale Detroit-based lifestyle brand Shinola has opened its first freestanding Canadian store on 'Canada's coolest street'. Located at 1000 Queen Street West (corner of Ossington Avenue), Toronto's Shinola is the first of potentially multiple Canadian stores, according to the brand's Creative Director, Daniel Caudill.
The new 1,800 square foot Toronto store features dramatic soaring ceilings of almost 20 feet, with a display of Shinola-branded bicycles hanging from the ceiling (see photo below). The store features light walnut fixtures which are characteristic of Shinola locations, as well as a fitting room in an old vault which was restored as part of the original building, which was once a bank. Mr. Caudill revealed that the new Toronto store features the brand's largest selection of women's leather goods and accessories, which are featured in a separate boutique area at the north end of the spacious store.
Product customization is a key feature to Shinola's Toronto boutique, explained Mr. Caudill. A 'watch bar' counter allows shoppers to pick out separate watch faces and watch bands, creating the desired timepiece look of the customer's choosing. An in-store monograming station is also available for leather goods as well as paper products.
The retail space was formerly occupied by youthful fashion retailer Stussy and a coffee shop, both of which closed last year. The building is owned by Toronto-based Hullmark Developments, which owns several nearby buildings on Ossington Avenue. The Toronto store is Shinola's 16th location worldwide, and only its second outside of the U.S. -- a London, U.K. store opened in the fall of 2014. Brokerage Think Retail's Tony Flanz represented Shinola in the Toronto deal.
Mr. Caudill explained that the Toronto store isn't likely the last for Canada, as Shinola looks to other markets for new stores. Although no retail spaces have been selected, a Vancouver location is likely at some point, he said, and Toronto could even see a second Shinola location depending on real estate opportunities. Shinola is looking to increase brand awareness in Canada prior to any major expansion, which it began doing last year with a Holt Renfrew shop-in-store at 50 Bloor Street West, which continues to operate today.
Shinola was founded in Detroit in 2011, and specializes in watches, bicycles, leather goods, pet accessories, and selected apparel. Its name is a nod to the former Shinola shoe polish company that operated in the early to mid 1900's. The company is now owned and operated by Bedrock Brands, a privately owned Texas investment group, and was launched by Tom Kartsotis, one of the founders of the Fossil Group retail conglomerate. Most products are made in the United States, though some watch parts come from Switzerland.
Think Retail represents Shinola as brokerage in Canada and according to its website, Shinola seeks retail space in the 1,250 square foot to 2,500 square foot range, ideally on high streets.
All photos in this article are by Scott Norsworthy.