By Megan Harman
A new fashion boutique in Laval, Quebec aims to provide a high-end shopping experience for young men and women, with merchandise straight from the world’s premiere fashion destinations.
The new store, called Fashion House, MC2520, launched in mid-April. It’s the latest venture from fashion entrepreneurs Mary Bitzilou and Chris Paras, who also own MC2520’s neighbouring shops: Boutique Rococo, a women’s fashion boutique; and children’s retailer Kid Biz. All of the shops cater to affluent customers seeking premium brands.
Having been in the children’s fashion business for 25 years, Bitzilou and Paras saw an opportunity to cater to a slightly older demographic.
“We realized that our clientele was getting older,” Bitzilou says. “They couldn’t find what they were looking for in the commercial market, therefore we decided to expand and make a big store called MC2520, which caters to a young women’s and young men’s market.”
MC2520 is geared to customers between the ages of 13 and 35 seeking the latest fashion trends. That adds a large new demographic to the customer base that Bitzilou and Paras have previously served.
Since all three of their boutiques are located within the same 17,000-square-foot complex in Laval, the new retail outlet creates a convenient shopping experience for families, Paras says.
“Now, we are pretty much catering to the whole family,” he says, “from kids all the way up to adult women.”
Compared to Bitzilou and Paras’ other boutiques, MC2520 offers a slightly lower price point, which reflects the trendiness of the styles in store. Many customers, Bitzilou says, are looking for new items to wear each week.
“It’s more affordable fashion, because it’s faster fashion,” she says.
The merchandise is selected and curated by Bitzilou and Paras, with an emphasis on styles from international trend centres such as Los Angels and Australia. Some of the brands available in the store include LVL XIII (an exclusive to MC2520), Blank-NYC, E7- Armani, Nana Judy (Australia) and Eleven Paris.
In a competitive retail environment, Bitzilou says offering the latest styles that customers are seeking is key to success.
“Product mix is very important,” she says. “When customers come to our shops and they see that what they just saw in Milan is hanging on our racks, they’re very impressed.”
Also critically important, she adds, is customer service. Bitzilou and Paras have high standards for the staff they hire, and expect their sales representatives to maintain a close rapport with their clientele.
“Customer service is key here,” Bitzilou says. “It comes down to knowing your client, knowing what they want, and being able to always come through for them.”
The design of the new retail space aims to reflect the trendy and high-end labels within it. The store boasts a contemporary look that combines bold marble with rustic wood, dramatic custom-made chandeliers and a variety of other eccentric accents.
Bitzilou and Paras have no immediate plans to expand their boutiques outside of Quebec, however branching into new markets is something they intend to explore in the future.
Megan Harman is a business reporter based in Toronto. She writes about topics including retail, financial services and technology. Megan covers Toronto’s retail industry through her blog Retail Realm (torontoretail.wordpress.com). Follow her on Twitter at @meganmharman.