Italian Bag Brand ‘O bag’ Launches Aggressive Canadian Standalone Store Expansion

By Mario Toneguzzi

Over the last few years Carmine Di Fruscia has expanded the Mr. Pretzels brand across the country in a very aggressive and successful way.

Now, the president of Mr. Pretzels in Canada, is taking his retail experience and skills to another offering - customizable Italian hand and shoulder bags.

Di Fruscia, who has the Canadian rights to O bag and plans to introduce the concept nationally, said the potential is there for about 50 stores across Canada over the next five years for the retail brand that began a few years ago in Padua, Italy.

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“I saw it about four years ago. I was very intrigued because my wife wanted to buy a purse at the time. In Italy you can buy purses anywhere you want. So when she told me she wanted this O bag I put it on my GPS and it was two and a half hours of driving. I said ‘oh my God, I’ve got to go out driving two and half hours to buy a purse in Italy when you can find Gucci, any purse you want within walking distance?’,” said Di Fruscia.

“Anyway, the good husband that I am I drove two and a half hours, I went into the store and I found the store to be okay, intriguing because you buy the purse, the base of the purse, and then you buy accessories. You personalize it. You make it yours by changing the strap, by changing the inside. The inside is a cover that goes out a bit so it decorates it. It can become a winter purse or back and it can become a summer purse. All by changing the strap in the inside.”

After buying the purse, Di Fruscia was walking in a mall with his wife, who was carrying the new purse, and strangers were stopping her and asking her where she bought the bag. It was so beautiful.

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“This happened a few times and it just so happens that the following year I was going back to Italy and now my wife had a list of people that wanted this O bag. My daughter. Her friends. It appealed to different generations,” he said.

The company has been expanding all over Europe, United States, Mexico and elsewhere, said Di Fruscia.

“When I started talking to them they were excited about Canada. They hadn’t reached Canada yet. They had nobody. I fell in love with the brand. I fell in love with the concept. And I have the rights now. We are going to be expanding.”

He said the first store will be opening in the Rockland shopping centre in Montreal within a couple of weeks, he said. The second store will open at CF Carrefour Laval in the spring of 2019.

“We’re going to be working very closely with all landlords to expand the brand across Canad. We want it to expand pretty rapidly,” said Di Fruscia.

“It appeals to pretty well everybody.”

Shanghai opening. Photo: O bag Facebook

Shanghai opening. Photo: O bag Facebook

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According to the company’s online store, “O bags are beautifully simple, stylish and practical. The bodies are made of a lightweight foam called XL Extralight®, which is soft and warm to touch, waterproof, strong, flexible and anti-microbial. O bags are available in our online store in numerous colours and with various interchangeable handle choices in high-quality leather, faux leather and rope.

“You can create your own bespoke O bag Italian handbag with a wide range of accessories; inner zip-up bags for added functionality, privacy and security; then add a finishing touch with trims in faux fur, wool or cotton. Build a collection of bag parts and interchange at will. You may never meet someone else with the same looking O bag as yours!”

“Numerous colours and mix and match handles and accessories allow customisation to suit your style, outfit and taste. The brand aim is to give our customers greater freedom to express themselves sartorially and to accessorise in a distinctive and ever-changing way. The perfect marriage of form and function explains our cult following amongst those appreciative of practical and aesthetic design.”

For any landlords interested in having O bag as a tenant, contact Carmine Di Fruscia at: 514-349-3911 or email: carmine@ptg.ca

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: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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