By Craig Patterson
Upscale Toronto-based lifestyle and giftware retailer Hopson Grace has expanded its Rosedale storefront by adding a unique ‘shoppable apartment’ to its second level. The retailer is looking to revolutionize the wedding and gift registry business in Canada with a curated selection of products in the bricks-and-mortar space, as well as a website with product delivery available to customers across North America.
Hopson Grace was launched in April of 2015 in a ground-floor retail space at 1120 Yonge Street in Toronto. Two seasoned professionals launched the brand — Andrea Hopson (former vice president of Tiffany & Co. Canada) and business partner Martha Grace McKimm (a seasoned public relations executive) who both were seeking career changes and had worked together in the past. Their passion for finer things led to a business partnership and when a strategically located corner retail space at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Macpherson Avenue became available, they jumped on the opportunity.
Hopson Grace (the store's name derives from Andrea's surname 'Hopson' and Martha's middle name 'Grace') features a highly curated merchandise offering with many products that are not only exclusive to Toronto, but in some instances are unavailable elsewhere in North America. The Rosedale location is ideal, being a short distance from some of Toronto's wealthiest residential areas, including Rosedale, Moore Park, Summerhill, South Hill, and Forest Hill. Customers from those areas continue to frequent the business and as the store’s awareness has grown, customers are now coming in from other parts of southern Ontario and beyond.
Ms. Grace and Ms. McKimm also leased the roughly 1,200 square foot second level which was originally used for private events. Customers began requesting an expanded range of products which led the duo to decide to convert the second floor to a unique retail space housing an edited assortment of products in a tasteful ‘one bedroom’ apartment that includes a kitchen, living and dining areas, bedroom and washroom.
The upper level showroom is called ‘Hopson Grace Home’. “Our second floor allows both our customers and those setting up a wedding and gift registry the opportunity to shop in an intimate setting with lots of context,” said Ms. Hopson. “We’re offering a highly personal shopping experience, designed to inspire every room in your house.”
Hopson Grace Home’s expanded assortment includes bedding, bath linens and related accessories as well as decorative accessories, dog bowls & beds, cookware, cooks’ tools and kitchen electrics. The space includes new brands and products, such as dog bowls from Brooklyn-based Mr. Dog, monogrammed towels by Matouk, Alpaca throws from Peru, tables by Notre Monde, and lamps by France’s Objet Insolite. Nearly everything in the showroom space is for sale, including artwork throughout.
At the back of the space is a custom kitchen from Scavolini (a contemporary Italian kitchen manufacturer) which acts as a backdrop for the carefully selected kitchen products such as David Mellor’s Rosewood Kitchen Knives, Dualit Toasters, STAUB and Skeppshult cast iron Dutch Ovens and cookware from Mauviel, All-Clad, Zwilling JA Henckels and Cuisinart. The retailer has partnered with local Toronto interior designers on some of the store’s larger pieces.
Customers are also able to purchase furniture and rugs directly from J Gibson Interiors, Kate Thornley-Hall and the McGill Design Group’s Plum Furniture Collection.
“Our store concept is constantly evolving to reflect our commitment to products that speak to us for their beauty, craftsmanship, sustainability and exclusivity – combined with an exceptional customer experience,” said Ms. Grace-McKimm. “With this expansion, we’ll continue to bring value and intimacy to the shopping experience, something our customers have come to expect from us, and at the same time offer couples a one-stop, highly curated wedding and gift registry experience.”
The co-founders explained how the curated concept provides tasteful product suggestions — rather than overwhelm visitors with thousands of items, hand-picked products at a range of price points create a ‘Hopson Grace edit’ that is unique to the retailer. Customers have also been asking for an expanded product assortment for Hopson Grace’s expansive wedding and gift registry business, which is also expanding online with delivery both in Canada and the United States.
Ultimately, the shoppable apartment is meant to create a home-like experience that is different from a typical retail showroom. Such product edits are becoming increasingly common in retailers that may otherwise carry the same brands, but are seeking differentiation. Hopson Grace is unlike any retailer in Canada both because of its new second floor as well as its product offerings, many of which can only be found in Canada or even in some instances in North America.
Hopson Grace’s main floor also continues to sell tableware and other items suitable for elegant entertaining — that includes tableware, serveware, drinkware, flatware, barware and decorative accessories sourced both locally and abroad.
The retail stretch along Yonge Street near the Rosedale TTC subway station is becoming a refined address housing upscale home furnishings, beauty and fashion retailers. Aussie skincare brand Aesop has a store a couple doors south of Hopson Grace, and a block away the highly tasteful Want Apothecary carries a range of fashions and accessories from Montreal (last year it added a second floor). To the north is the popular ‘Five Thieves’ retail building anchored by a Terroni restaurant and Harvest Wagon grocery market, and north of the Summerhill LCBO store and train tracks is a row of shops and restaurants that include unique rug and home furnishings retailer Thirty Six Knots, which we profiled in an article last year.