By Mario Toneguzzi
Upscale furniture store Avenue Road is expanding from its Toronto base and is launching a new store in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood, anticipated to open in February or March of this year.
Stephan Weishaupt, president of Avenue Road, said Vancouver is a strong market for the company and there is a high design consciousness there.
“We have many exclusive brands to Canada and North America and this helps us expand their profile not only to Vancouver, but the whole of the West Coast,” he said.
“We’ll be launching e-commerce in the Spring. We’ll also continue to explore other retail concepts like our concept apartment 8A in New York and showhome in Miami as we think the future isn’t just one experience, it’s many.”
Avenue Road started as a small gallery space on Booth street in Toronto in 2007. In 2009, it moved into its flagship Toronto showroom at 415 Eastern Avenue with 15,000 square feet of space.
“Today we have flagship showrooms in Toronto, New York and now Vancouver (Gastown). We also have residential concept spaces in New York and Miami,” said Weishaupt.
“We are always exploring interesting ways to connect with a design-minded audience.”
He said the company’s philosophy is not really a question of one concept or type of store. There is potential for many more but of different concepts that respond to the market.
“We have curated contexts that mix all our products together in true to life environments and don’t present things as a typical department or furniture store would as monobrand blocks,” said Weishaupt. “We are total concept that allows clients to fulfill the whole design story from architectural lighting to bespoke kitchens to accessories, rugs and textiles along with our core furniture collection."
“Our industry tends to operate in much the same way for the last half century. We’ve invested heavily in behind the scenes systems and in our team so we deliver items made in the old world traditional craftsmanship but with service that people expect in 2018.”
While Avenue Road always aims to be elevated, people shouldn’t be intimidated to come visit, he added. The company loves to engage with design lovers or anyone who is just intrigued with what it does.
Abraham Chan, founder, owner and creative director of the Toronto-based firm, said he is very excited about working on the Vancouver Avenue Road store.
“Working with Stephan, we conceived that the shop can be part gallery and part residence and it involves the transformation of the 12,000-square-foot warehouse into something more curated to display Avenue Road’s collection,” said Chan. “The building itself is an interesting one. It’s a four-story heritage building which has been in Gastown for almost 100 years. It was originally a newspaper printing factory which is interesting because the Toronto store was also previously a newspaper printing factory.
“We converted the store into something that would be a little bit more personal, with spaces that would really encourage customers to explore and enjoy the process of discovery.”
The store takes up two floors of the building.
Chan said a goal was to create a store that would fit into Vancouver’s culture and character.
“It was important for us to design a store that would retain the ambiance that would be appropriate to display the international curated items that Avenue Road is known for,” he said. “When we were trying to think what it was that is so beautiful about Vancouver, we started thinking about a lot of its raw nature. That was really inspirational for us.
“We also collaborated with a lot of artists to make sure that the space would be unique to Vancouver.”
One of those artists is Moss & Lam, a boutique art studio led by founder and creative director Deborah Moss. The company – whose work appears in luxury environments around the world – designed and hand-produced a feature wall within the new Vancouver Avenue Road store, and the store also carries their line of award-winning W1 side tables.
In today’s competitive retail market, it has become increasingly more important to create spaces and experiences that are more tailored and personalized and enhanced for customers.
According to Chan, it’s all in the details. All the elements in the new Avenue Road Vancouver store celebrate the products in the store.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.