By Craig Patterson
Popular upscale furniture and housewares retailer West Elm is expanding its Canadian footprint with a new location in Toronto that opens to the public on the morning of Thursday, February 15. The store is West Elm’s sixth in Canada, and second in Toronto, and includes several unique features not found in its other locations.
The two-level, 16,295 square foot store is located at 2434 Yonge Street, about two blocks north of the busy Yonge-Eglinton intersection. The area is seeing several new residential towers being built as thousands more people move into the rapidly changing area. Some of Canada’s wealthiest postal codes are located nearby, in neighbourhoods such as Forest Hill and Lawrence Park.
The store features a range of home furnishings from designers for every room in the home, and also offers Williams-Sonoma’s cross-brand design consultation program Design Crew, which pairs customers with experts who can provide design and installation services.
The new Toronto West Elm includes considerable ‘localization’ in terms of both its product offerings as well as interior design. The store supports seven Toronto-based makers and designers, offering customers an array of locally made products alongside the brand’s assortment of home furnishings and décor. The store’s main-floor cash-wrap area includes a hand-painted art panel of the Toronto skyline as seen from the water, including modern as well as historical buildings. A mirror image of the skyline sits beneath it in front of the cash-wrap, paying homage to Lake Ontario.
West Elm has partnered with American sleep brand Leesa, which now supplies mattresses and related products to West Elm’s Canadian stores. Leesa mattresses include a three-layer construction including memory foam — and the company donates one mattress to a non-profit for every 10 mattresses sold (West Elm also says that they’re very comfortable).
The new West Elm replaces another furniture retailer that previously occupied the site — Restoration Hardware, aka ‘RH’, which operated one of several Toronto locations at 2434 Yonge Street. RH closed the Yonge Street store as well as two other locations when it unveiled a 70,000 square foot, four-level flagship RH Gallery at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre in the fall of 2017.
West Elm was founded by parent company Williams-Sonoma in New York City in 2002. It retails a variety of housewares, from large furniture pieces to small gift items. It currently operates more than 100 stores as well as e-commerce websites in the United States as well as in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada— as well as unaffiliated franchisees that operate stores in the Middle East, Philippines and South Korea, and stores and e-commerce websites in Mexico.
In Canada, West Elm operates a large location in Toronto's Shops at King Liberty, a store at 995 Rue Wellington in Montreal, and separate West Elm and West Elm Market locations on Vancouver's tony South Granville strip. The Toronto store opened in October of 2008, Vancouver in September of 2012, and Montreal in June of 2013. Most recently, in the summer of 2015, West Elm opened at Calgary’s Mount Royal Village shopping centre.