BRIEF: Pier 1 Imports to Exit Quebec, Lawrence & Chico's Surreal Retail Space, Nordstrom Launches Innovative Promo

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By Helen Siwak, Retail Insider Brief Editor

Pier 1 Imports to Jump Ship in Quebec: Fort Worth Texas-based Pier 1 Imports, a publicly traded company which specializes in imported home furnishings and decor (particularly furniture, table-top items, decorative accessories, and seasonal decor), has announced that it will close six Canadian stores by August 4 of this year. The Montreal Gazette reports that all six of these locations are in Quebec, and that the retailer is pulling out of the province due to poor sales numbers. 

Most of Pier 1’s Quebec Stores are in the Greater Montreal area, with units in Montreal, Laval, Point Claire and Boucherville. There’s also a store in suburban Quebec City. Pier 1 would not confirm details of the store closures, nor how many people would be losing their jobs, though the company says that employees who stay with the company through the closures will receive a retention bonus or severance based on years of service.

Pier 1 will continue to operate about 65 store locations coast-to-coast in Canada, according to the company. The Quebec store closures are part of a bigger announcement in April that Pier 1 would be closing 25 stores in North America this year. Pier 1 has a unique history — the company was founded in 1962 in San Mateo, California, with products catering to hippy baby boomers with products such as love beads and incense. It went public in 1970 and now boasts more than 1,000 stores in North America. The company has been closing some stores over the past year or so, according to financial statements.

The Laurence & Chico Cafe Creeping Out with Birth of Monster-realism Cafe in downtown Vancouver: When Vancouver-based luxury fashion designers Laurence & Chico set up their 2-day Trunk Show at The Leisure Center in Yaletown earlier this year, they alluded to a concept café they planned to launch in the West End. They promised it would be immensely over-the-top and filled with everything ‘Laurence & Chico’ and a place where everything you saw, you could buy. Sounded a bit pie-in-the-sky but now the proverbial pie is on the counter at 833 Bute Street, a former location of Jethro’s Fine Grub.

Opened on June 29th after a set of invite-only launch parties, the cafe is swarming with dessert lovers, followers of their celebrity-wearing fashion line (think Cardi B, Solange Knowles, Björk, and Meghan Trainer), and fans of their quirky homewares.

The 2,082-square-foot coffee/tea/sweet spot was created inch-by-inch by the duo who consider world-domination a future possibility and believe that there is no such thing as over-designing.

Serving up pastries and puffy things from local faves Yaletown’s Small Victory, Temper Pastry, coffee from 49th Parallel, and soon a $46/person high-tea program by Edible Canada’s Tobias Grignon, The Laurence & Chico Café sells accessories, illustrated postcards, scarves, and fluffy Monster Chairs. Open 7 days a week from 11 am to 11 pm.

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*Photos by Leila Kwok

Meanwhile, Back in Moscow, IKEA Launches 64,584-square-foot ‘Underline’ to Lure Fashionable Millennials (Could we see something like this in Canada?) IKEA Centres, the shopping centre company owned by IKEA Group, has launched Underline, a brand new nearly 65,000-square-foot concept space for fashionable millennials at its MEGA Teply Stan mall in Moscow. This new fashion and lifestyle space is designed for modern brands that have developed online via channels such as Instagram to establish a physical presence. It also includes space for pop-ups and co-working space. It will enable fashionistas to experience the latest trends and city lifestyle concepts all in one place, supporting IKEA Centres' vision to create unique meeting places.

Underline is a genuine example of traditional retail space being reconfigured to create a truly experiential new retail environment for the more omnichannel world. Based on three core zones of fashion, lifestyle, wellness & beauty, Underline includes a mix of over 30 brands in an edgy warehouse style basement location within MEGA Teply Stan.

Interestingly, only about a third of Underline’s premises is dedicated to retail space. The remaining 43,000-square-feet is comprised of popular lifestyle services where like-minded young people can work, practice yoga, drink coffee, have beauty treatments, visit the barber, shop at an IKEA pop-up, or attend lectures.

While it is hip to hate-on ‘the millennials,’ and the thought of capturing them all in one giant shopping mall is enticing, what are your ideas on this concept?

Expect to see more of this at IKEA centres internationally — the concept is expanding globally and there are said to be plenty of opportunities in their centres for North American retailers looking to expand abroad. 

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Vancouverites to Get Their KNIX Fix at West Coast Pop-Up: Diane’s Lingerie on South Granville Street will welcome the Toronto-based KNIX from July 4th-July 8th. The fast-growing underwear brand is known for their fun pop-up shops and holding events with great titles like ‘Prosecco & Pelvic Floor” and “Spin In Your Skin Ride.’”

KNIX is also community conscious and donates to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, a charity that fights for health, economic justice, and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.

After a crowd-funding campaign, the brand was launched in 2013 by Joanna Griffiths, a former music and film industry publicist. Now KNIX is stocked in almost 100 stores worldwide and is causing competitors to get their panties in a bunch! With the reinvention of intimates using advanced fabrics, seamless design, no underwires, and quick drying fabric that is leak resistance, anti-odour, and 4-way stretch, KNIX is giving women the comfort and style they have been missing for far too long.

Four Fashion-Savvy Comedians Partner with Nordstrom for Promotion: Leading fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom has partnered with four fashion-savvy comedians for a one-of-a-kind sale, which takes place from July 20 through August 5. 

The campaign includes actress Liza Koshy (Double Dare host and star of Liza on Demand); Daniel Levy, writer, producer and Schitt’s Creek actor; Phoebe Robinson, comedian and NY Times bestselling author; and New Girl actress Hannah Simone. The campaign was shot by Mary Ellen Matthews, who is best known for her portraits of celebrity guests and the cast of Saturday Night Live.

The comedians also filmed short videos promoting the retailer’s “Show Us How You #NSALE” sweepstakes, where customers can submit an Anniversary Sale photo or video via social media or online to express their enthusiasm for the sale and win a $500 Nordstrom Gift Card. Current Nordstrom cardholders have the exclusive ability to shop Anniversary Sale before everyone else during Early Access, starting July 17th in Canada. 

The Anniversary Sale originated in the 1960s and is the company’s biggest event of the year. This one-of-a-kind event offers brand-new arrivals at super-sale prices for a limited time – then prices go back up after two weeks.

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Forêt Noire Patisserie – Parisian in Name Only: At 236 West Broadway in Vancouver, a little slice of Parisian heaven will be opening soon. Touting themselves as a ‘modern version of a French patisserie’, Forêt Noire has plans to cater to the most discerning taste buds in an ultra-modern location.

Executive Chef Christian Lai Chun, the former pâtisserie & chocolatier artisan from Ritz-Carlton Hotel and instructor of Pacific Institution Culinary Arts in Canada, has joined the management team and will be creating a variety of treats.

With offerings that will be created daily, to be unique and appeal to the widest audience, Mazen Jaridly, the Vancouver-based founder and CEO, hopes to capture not only walk-by sweet-lovers but also those throughout metro Vancouver who can click a mouse. Through the company’s website, dessert lovers will be able to shop and have their purchases delivered with the convenience of FedEx. 

A launch date has not been announced, but the curious can peruse their Instagram page for details on chocolate creations, beverages, and savoury sandwich options that will be available.

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Yoobi and Indigo Partner to Encourage Kids to ‘Express Yourself’ with Glitter+: Known and loved by kids and parents for its fun, colourful, and trendy products, Yoobi, is launching in Canada on July 1st via a partnership with Indigo and their Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

The innovative stationery and school supply company with a “Buy One, Give One” business model is already available in the U.S. and Australia. Yoobi believes that school supplies should be available to every child in every classroom and teachers should not have to spend out of their pockets to make this happen. To address this, the company has adopted a “Buy One, Give One” model where, for every item purchased, another is donated to a classroom in need. To date, Yoobi has donated over 50-million school supplies reaching more than 3.5-million kids in the U.S. alone!

In Canada, for every Yoobi item purchased at Indigo, a Yoobi school supply item will be donated to a classroom in need right here in Canada.

Hysteria at the Steam Clock as 604 and Def Leppard Drop New Kicks: Six Hundred Four, the award-winning luxury sneaker boutique, located in Gastown behind the infamous Steam Clock, has been creating limited edition shoes based off art pieces, has launched a limited-edition collaboration with iconic rock band Def Leppard. Only 604 individually numbered pairs will be produced and exclusively available to purchase at the location or online.

Consisting of 4 styles sized 36-47EU, the premium collection draws inspiration from the album art of Def Leppard's three most iconic albums (which kept us all rocking in the 80s, 90s, and will live-in on classic radio forevah!), On Through the Night, Pyromania, and Hysteria, along with a style dedicated to their highly recognizable Def Leppard logo. They will retail for a little under $350 and are expected to ship to customers in October.

The cool collaboration happened when James Leep, founder of Six Hundred Four, met Phil Collen, the lead guitarist in the boutique. That meeting resulted in a 30-pair exclusive collaboration with him, which now has led to full collaboration with Def Leppard. Each limited-edition pair is individually engraved with a unique pair number, making every shoe one-of-a-kind which makes wearing them worth another rock’n’roll notch in your belt. 

Helen Siwak is the publisher of EcoLuxLuv.com Magazine, a freelance content creator specializing in retail and luxury lifestyle. She is a regular content contributor to Boulevard Vancouver (English & Chinese), Retail-InsiderBLUSH Vancouver, and has lifestyle blogged for StyleDemocracy and Daily Hive. When not writing, she is attending fashion events, traveling, and advocating for animal/human rights. helensiwak@yahoo.com.

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