By Mario Toneguzzi
New Canadian home goods store WYRTH has officially opened its first location - a flagship retail store in Toronto - offering unique products, an immersive shopping experience and an in-store cafe and ice-cream bar.
The 5,000-square-foot flagship store is located at 98 Orfus Road.
“We have full intention to be across the country,” said Joey Benitah, the company’s chief operating officer while Rachel’s role is as general merchandise manager. “We’re focusing on each of part of the multiple base of the business. Once we feel that we have the store, ecommerce and (a future) restaurant (beside the store) up and running, running smooth, established, within their respective locations and throughout Toronto, we are going to quickly have our next focus on where’s the next location. I can’t give you a specific timeline but definitely we will be in every major city across the country in due time.
“WRYTH is a houseware store where we sell table top product, we sell kitchenware primarily, a smaller percentage of our business is home decor. Originally in terms of product mix, we’re initially starting primarily focused in the kitchenware and a little bit of home decor and as our business develops and grows over time we’re going to evolve into additional categories such as furniture and soft home and bedding and bath and all those types of categories.”
The store is stocked with premier brands including OXO, Joseph Joseph, Molly Hatch, and Bia Cordon Bleu. The store features a wide collection of thoughtful home goods, ranging from trendy flatware and barware to inventive kitchen gadgets, to a bespoke line of locally-sourced signature candles.
“When it comes to ecommerce, our focus initially was to really focus on our first brick and mortar store. It’s a new business, a new brand. We really want to do everything right. We don’t want to rush into (ecommerce). Launching ecommerce is a big project and it’s fantastic. My background is ecommerce. So I’m very familiar with that business and how it works,” said Joey Benitah.
“But we really wanted to focus on making sure that we can establish our brand in the city through our brick and mortar store, build up our social media following, really get the word out about the store, and have customers come see it and visit, and ecommerce is our phase two focus. Myself having the ecommerce background believe me I’m very excited and very anxious to get it up and running. As of now, we’re hoping to have our ecommerce website fully operational, selling online, before the holiday season. That’s our goal.”
He said the whole concept behind WYRTH, and what motivated him and his sister Rachel to start the company, comes from their own personal experiences. Joey Benitah moved into his first apartment a few years ago and when he was shopping around to fill his new place he found it frustrating to find kitchenware and small home decor items. There was the expensive high end and the lower quality more affordable products.
“But there really isn’t that in-between. From that experience, we decided to make it our mission to fill the gap in the market that we felt was missing, which is what led to WYRTH,” explained Joey.
“What we really set out to do with WYRTH is establish a concept where we sold similar categories to cater to someone like myself and Rachel - mid20s, first apartment, not a lot of disposable income, need to stick to a relatively strict budget - but want to be proud of where we bought it, want to have great looking product, want it to last, be of good quality, and also shop at a store with a great, memorable shopping experience. And when you check off all those boxes, there really wasn’t anything there.”
“We want to make the experience of decorating your home more enjoyable,'' said Rachel Benitah. “WYRTH is all about good old-fashioned hospitality for our customers, something that we think is missing in a lot of retail stores today. We hope to build a community around the brand that will celebrate a curated lifestyle experience.”
The Benitahs were focused initially on building an element to their store where the shopping experience is memorable, interactive and much more enjoyable than your typical traditional retail store.
That includes a significant and prominent coffee, espresso and ice cream bar within the store. The ice cream is unique. It’s not just traditional scoop ice cream. Along the back wall of the bar, it has about 15 different cereals and a number of traditional toppings. The customer has the option to pick whatever cereal they like, plus the toppings, and then that’s blended into the ice cream with its ice cream blender machine, coming out as a soft ice cream completely blended together.
The brand has plans to unveil a full-service café and restaurant next door likely to open in the spring of next year. Joey Benitah said it hasn’t been decided yet if the restaurant will also have an entrance attached within the WYRTH store.
“Potentially yes. Part of the reason we are actually leaning towards that is I do think it would create a great added benefit as well to our store having the walk through traffic between the restaurant and the store,” he said. “We don’t have a hard-set date right now.
“We’re thinking more spring of next year. I’d really like to focus on the ecommerce. Getting the ecommerce fully developed and established is a higher priority for us right now than opening a restaurant.”
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: email@example.com.