By Megan Harman
Eclectic Vancouver-based multi-brand women’s retailer The Latest Scoop is expanding into Toronto and planning a broader Canadian expansion as it continues to find success with its wide-ranging merchandise mix.
The Latest Scoop, which operates four stores in Vancouver and a Toronto location at 115 Ossington Avenue that opened in early September, carries a broad array of merchandise including fashion, accessories, gifts, home décor and furniture.
“We believe people shop brick and mortar stores for an experience and that is what we try to offer our customers,” says Deb Nichol, owner of The Latest Scoop. “With our product mix, visual displays, and ever changing product, we want our customers to feel comfortable to linger and discover what we have to offer.”
The Latest Scoop carries a broad range of labels from Canada, the U.S. and abroad, with the selection of brands changing as often as every week or two. Examples include Soia & Kyo, Matt & Nat, Dolce Vita, Chinese Laundry, Rains from Denmark and Rolla’s From Australia. The retailer targets primarily women in the 25-45 age bracket, however Nichol says the retailer’s diverse product selection attracts a very diverse demographic.
“It's a beautiful mix of age,” Nichol says. “It's very common to see both moms and daughters shopping together.”
The retailer first launched in Vancouver in 2004 as a pop-up retail concept. “I chose to open temporary pop-up stores that would not follow any retail rules. I would only open certain weeks or months in a year, sell a mix of eclectic ever-changing product, move about the city to draw in a client base and create visually exciting venues,” Nichol says.
The Latest Scoop treats each pop-up as an event, and puts considerable time and effort into designing each location—even if it’s temporary. The stores are designed to be inviting and appealing, with a sense of fun and discovery. The retailer has a visual merchandise team who works in tandem with local designers and architects, as needed, to ensure stores have the right flow and overall look.
“I believe it was successful from day one because we go all out on our temp stores while many other retailers that try it don't put in the same effort,” Nichol says. “I am out for a reaction—I want my customers, whether they buy or not, to feel excited and inspired.”
As demand steadily grew and customers became eager for the opportunity to shop year-round, Nichol decided to begin opening permanent locations. The stores close for short periods at the beginning of each year, to allow the retailer to revamp the look of each location. And through monthly trips to trendy destinations such as Los Angeles or New York, Nichol and her team are able to source new product ideas on a regular basis, in order to keep their offerings current
The Latest Scoop continues to rely on temporary locations as a way of exploring potential new markets. “Pop-up locations are now good ways for us to test market new cities and neighbourhoods. We'll definitely be hosting pop-up venues in the Toronto area over the next year or so,” Nichol says.
The retailer decided to embark on a permanent expansion to Toronto after finding that many of its customers were from Toronto. The inaugural Toronto store is located on Ossington Avenue—a trendy area with plenty of modern retailers, bars and restaurants.
“We appreciate mainstream locations, but there's something exciting about neighbourhoods such as Ossington—where locals live, shop and play,” Nichol says. “It's exciting to be part of a neighbourhood that is growing—but growing with character.”
The new store is approximately 2,900 square feet, which is the average size of The Latest Scoop stores. Given the retailer’s extensive experience in the pop-up realm, however, Nichol says the size of its stores has ranged considerably.
“We can do smaller with less product mix, or we can do larger which means more furniture,” she says. “Our pop-up history has taught us how to be flexible!”
A second Toronto location is already in the works, with plans to open a store at 700 Queen Street West in March 2019. Once The Latest Scoop’s Toronto presence has been firmly established, the retailer will consider expanding to Montreal and potentially other markets. The chain has also been testing the U.S. market, with an eight-month pop-up location in California.