By Mario Toneguzzi
The unique KARE furniture brand will look at expanding in Canada, and perhaps into the United States, after recently completing renovations to a flagship Toronto showroom which was the Munich-based retailer’s first location in North America.
Edilka Anderson, owner of KARE Toronto on Queen Street West, said the store has been newly-renovated with a stunning assortment of unique and beautifully-crafted accessories, lighting, furniture, and textiles to suit any home and style.
Anderson bought the 2,200-square-foot showroom at 553 Queen Street West in Toronto in May from the original owners who opened in the summer of 2017. The showroom was closed for about two weeks during the recent renovations.
“I created a concept in a way where we created small rooms. We can sort of showcase a living room, and then a dining room and so forth. In the way that it’s set up it’s almost the way you walk into an IKEA where you go into kind of like a maze,” explained Anderson. “I sort of made that concept so we could showcase the pieces. It’s not just a furniture store. It’s a design company."
“My goal is to expand the showroom because we’re on Queen Street West and you don’t have the bigger stores here. But I do have a very large basement so I can double up my square footage by renovating my basement which is my goal. I plan on doing that hopefully by next Spring, next Summer. I would like to be able to double up the square footage of the showroom to be able to showcase more pieces.”
KARE was founded in 1981 in Munich by two designers, Jurgen Reiter and Peter Schonhofen. Over the years, it has become an international brand with a presence in more than 50 countries and more than 100 stores worldwide, mainly in Europe.
“The brand is really inspirational. They pride themselves in being inspirational instead of conventional. It’s everything but ordinary,” said Anderson. “And we have some really fun and unique designs. We have everything from accessories to furnishings to lighting. So we can basically do an entire home."
“We have over 5,000 items on our website. We can’t carry everything (in the showroom). So we do sort of try to keep things fresh. And most of our orders from furnishings are through special orders.”
Customers receive a design and style magazine that showcases some of the new pieces the company gets in and twice a year KARE has a new collection.
“It’s always innovating and doing new things. We also have a couture book. It’s basically a coffee table book and it’s done every year. It’s a beautiful book and it has all of our items in it. It’s really well done. We use those a lot in working with our designers so they can have marketing material and things to offer their clients so that they can see,” said Anderson.
That includes a unique retail, in-store experience with augmented reality glasses.
“When we do a design project, we do a 3D design. So we do it on any type of software that you can use. We can use our furniture. Pieces are in that software. We have 3D glasses . . . You can view your room that we designed for you in 3D and you can literally walk in the room,” said Anderson. “They tested this in a market in Munich in some of the larger stores and the results that came from it was excellent in terms of selling more of the room because the person felt like they were walking in their own space and could see themselves in it. It’s very innovative.”
The Toronto KARE location is the only one currently in North America but Anderson said the company definitely wants to expand the brand in the future.
“With us being the only store in North America currently, everybody’s watching us. All eyes are on us. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to have something a little bit different. This brand and this store is not like any other store - furniture store - that you walk into. You definitely get variety and something completely unique,” said Anderson.
“I know that my plan is to expand here in Toronto and once we see the market respond really well I believe that there will be other stores opening in Canada and even in the U.S.”
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