IN by Surplus debuts at CF Markville Mall

March 22, 2016

The inaugural IN by Surplus opened its doors at CF Markville Mall in Markham, Ont., marking the first full-price premium brand boutique by the innovative team who founded the popular off-price retail concept, Surplus Clothing.
Surplus Clothing was born in Montreal in 1999 when its first bricks and mortar boutique opened on trendy St.-Laurent Street in the city’s Mile End neighbourhood.  
The focus was, and continues to be, on affordable luxury brands—including Diesel, Scotch & Soda, Fred Perry, and more—at discount prices. Today there are four off-price outlets—two in Quebec (downtown Montreal and Tanger Outlets Saint-Sauveur) and two in Ontario (Outlet Collection at Niagara and Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga), as well as a strong online presence. 
Now the entrepreneurs are taking on a new and exciting challenge. At Think Retail we’re thrilled to again partner with the Surplus team, this time on their latest retail vision, an in-mall shop featuring a curated collection of marque brands.
IN opened last week to great acclaim and this new concept is no doubt the start of something big. 
“We wanted to do a full-price store in mall and this is a testing ground,” says Jones Liang, one of the retailer’s partners, adding if IN by Surplus is well received, he’d like to expand the concept in more enclosed malls. 
CF Markville is the ideal location for the brand’s launch. It’s a shopping mecca that is home to more than 160 premium retailers from Aritzia to Coach, Fossil, Michael Kors, J. Crew and more. Cadillac Fairview recently completed a $110 million redevelopment of the property, transforming it into a world-class shopping destination and perfect launch space for IN by Surplus.
Already the new store is attracting a strong following of fashion-forward consumers drawn to the retailer’s curated selection of top-quality on-trend merchandise. 
IN is a multi-brand concept with a strong focus on denim and footwear, with more than 10 different high-profile footwear fashion brands.
The 3,000 sq. ft. space is well designed, reflecting the company’s signature vision. It’s hip and sleek, with dark woods and muted colours offering the perfect backdrop to an array of brands that are displayed in a welcoming and consumer-savvy way, with the feel of a boutique, but a vast selection nonetheless—it’s skilled merchandizing at its best. In addition to racks and tables of unisex apparel, footwear and accessories are showcased on metal and glass cubed shelves for easy browsing with an upscale feel. 
We are excited by this new concept and anticipate that IN will be a great success. At the moment, no new stores are planned, however the team is watching closely and after a few months (with the right feedback) is committed to moving forward and introducing the concept in more enclosed malls. 
For more about the Surplus Clothing and its new In by Surplus, visit or contact the Think Retail Team

MAC teams up with Think Retail for flagship deal

March 14, 2016

At Think Retail we always welcome the opportunity to work in tandem with a retailer’s in-house realty expert to help secure an ideal property.
Such was the case when Michael Riney, Director of Real Estate for MAC Cosmetics, hired us to find the perfect spot to open a flagship store to replace the company’s concession in La Maison Ogilvy. 
The goal was to find a marquee Montreal location for this iconic Canadian-born brand. 
Founded in Toronto in 1984, MAC is now headquartered in New York City as part of the Estee Lauder Companies. It all started when makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo became frustrated by the lack of makeup that photographed well, so they decided to create their own. At first, they made the cosmetics in their kitchen and sold them straight from the salon to fellow makeup artists, as well as models and photographers. Word soon spread and the brand gained recognition around the globe: Today MAC is sold in more than 105 countries and operates more than 500 independent stores. MAC is one of the world’s top three makeup brands, delivering annual sales in excess of US$ 1 billion. 
As a global beauty phenomenon, not just any location would do. The company was looking for something special. 
By tapping in to our extensive contacts and relationships, we were able to identify an ideal off-market location in the heart of Montreal’s shopping district. (The space was home to footwear retailer Spring) 
Located at Saint Catherine Street West and McGill College Avenue, this high-profile corner location is ideal for MAC in every way. 
The Confederation Building at 1253 McGill College Avenue is an 11-storey building owned by Polaris Realty. The first two floors feature retail, while the others house offices, including Google. The space is home to several complimentary and high-profile tenants, including Keihl’s and Les 3 Brasseurs. 
The neoclassical building has a European feel, with a classic exterior and modern renovated interior.
It’s a marquee building in a marquee location, perfect for a marquee brand like MAC Cosmetics—mission accomplished. 
For more on how we can use our extensive industry and market knowledge to help your company find the right location, contact the Think Retail Team.

Change of Scandinavia unveils Montreal flagship

March 11, 2016

Change of Scandinavia unveils Montreal flagship
Leading lingerie retail brand Change of Scandinavia is celebrating the opening of its 15th store in Canada, an impressive flagship space in downtown Montreal.
We were delighted to officially partner with this exciting brand last summer and in December announced the deal for Change to open this new 1,200 sq. ft. store at Place Montreal Trust. 
This trendy shopping centre is a synergistic fit for the Change brand. Owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge, the 320,000 sq. ft. fashion centre is strategically situated at the corner of famed Sainte Catherine Street and McGill College Avenue. It features more than 60 shops and services, including top-tier retailers, Fossil, Jack Jones, Little Burgundy, Urban Behaviour, Vero Moda, Zara and many more. 
As a fresh and exciting brand with a strong following around the globe, Change is the ideal tenant with a well-defined visual identity. Its boutiques are beautifully designed, with an intimate upscale feel. Its stores are a destination space for its loyal fanbase, which comprises a variety of age groups made up of people who shop for lingerie several times a year. Its Club Change loyalty program is a popular sales tool because members love its very generous bonus scheme. 
About 75% of revenue is derived from the sale of underwear and bras, which are designed in Denmark and manufactured at Change’s own factories. Research confirms women are fiercely loyal to the brand because of its vast selection in more than 100 different sizes (up to K cup) in 10 different models, offering a perfect fit for all shapes and sizes. 
The company is also drawing in customers who admire its loungewear, swimwear, nightwear, stockings and men’s underwear lines. 
Change of Scandinavia has become a worldwide phenomenon. The company launched in Denmark 1995, first as a private label brand before opening its first stand-alone retail store in Copenhagen in 2001. The popular concept soon grew across Europe, and then into Asia and North America—today it has more than 200 corporate and franchise stores around the globe. 
Change debuted in Canada in 2006 and today has five stores open in British Columbia, one in Saskatchewan, five in Ontario and four in Quebec. Most locations are about 950 sq. ft. and generate average sales of $550 psf in major shopping centres—Park Royal, Metropolis at Metrotown, Oakville Place, Rockland, Coquitlam Centre and The Promenade Shopping Centre to name a few—as well as high streets, including Toronto’s Queen West.
We are excited to work with Change is it ramps up growth in Canada. The focus is on securing spaces of 500 to 1,000 sq. ft. in super regional malls in Montreal and Toronto.
For more about the brand and its growth plans in Canada, visit or contact the Think Retail Team.

Must Read: Without Losing Its Heritage, Filson Finds The Cool Crowd

February 17, 2016

It’s always fascinating to watch a traditional retail brand reinvent itself, while remaining true to is heritage. Filson is doing this beautifully. 
The 120-year-old Seattle outdoor clothing and luggage maker has gone from simply stalwart to somewhat sexy in the hands of its new owners, Dallas-based private equity firm Bedrock Manufacturing. 
The brand—the faithful go-to for hunters, ranchers and fishermen—is fine-tuning its collections and expanding its customer base to include a new generation of cultural players, drawn to the retail brand’s authenticity.
In an insightful piece in The Seattle Times, writer Hugo Kugiya explores “the company’s attempt to gently toe that fine line between honoring its history and the need to adapt to the marketplace.”
He talks about how the new tastemakers, from designers to indie-band members, are drawn to the Filson brand: “As they have embraced hog butchery, single-gear bicycles, backyard chicken coops, Mumford & Sons, and Appalachian beards, so have they embraced brands like Filson that trade on a sense of shared heritage. This is a demographic that covets Filson garments the way they might value raw, selvedge denim jeans, another early 20th-century product recently rediscovered.”
Bedrock is well aware of the appeal and fueling the fire with simple updates to its collections, including a more modern cut for its popular cruiser jacket. Dubbed the “Seattle” it sells alongside the traditional “Alaska fit” (so as not to alienate the retailer’s loyal customer base). 
Bedrock is good at this. It also owns Detroit-based Shinola, which we wrote about earlier this fall, and seems to really understand how to take a brand’s history and make it a huge asset.
Like Shinola, Filson has a great “Amercian-dream” backstory with its strong working-class roots in the Seattle area. Former train conductor Clinton Filson opened his retail outpost in 1891. He went on to patented the iconic cruiser jacket in 1914 and today the company sells everything from long underwear to a vast assortment of quality leather bags for men and women—bags can cost up to $900, but are guaranteed for life. 
In a world of fast fashion, Filson is proving itself an heirloom brand with staying power. I look forward to watching how the brand takes advantage of this moment in its long history and I encourage you to read The Seattle Times piece: “Without losing its heritage, Filson finds the cool crowd.”
Drop me an email and let me know that you think.

Lolë rolls out plans for 10 to 12 pop-up shops

January 19, 2016

At Think Retail, we’re excited to work alongside Lolë as it announces groundbreaking plans to open 10 to 12 pop-up shops.It’s a strategic move for the company, one that’s designed to elevate brand awareness and test markets where the company is interested.

In the initial phase, Lolë is interested in six to eight month terms. It’s a fast turnaround, with the company aiming to open stores across Canada this spring.

Lolë is ready to hit the ground running with a unique store prototype. With that in mind, it prefers clean shells of 900 to 1,500 sq. ft. in outlets malls; regional and super regional shopping centres; large open-air centres; and along high streets. Preference will be given to locations with strong fashion and athletic co-tenants.

Lolë is focusing on the Toronto and Vancouver areas; however, the scope is national, with the exception of the Province of Quebec.Lolë is a true lifestyle brand, which has built a loyal following for it bold and beautiful activewear clothing for women. Conceived in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002, it is now part of Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which boasts an impressive team with offices around the globe.
Lolë had a banner year in 2015, accomplishing all of its objectives and positioning itself for major growth. It opened high-profile locations in Canada, while also expanding on the global front and connecting with audiences via its unique White Tour, which targets healthy lifestyle enthusiasts.

We’d love to share more about this vibrant Canadian brand and its pop-up plans: Please contact the Think Retail Team.

U.S. Retailers Invade Canada: Are you next?

January 14, 2016

It’s an extraordinarily exciting time for retail in Canada! The industry is thriving and attracting retailers from around the world who want to capitalize on the opportunities to grow and prosper.  
At Think Retail, we are excited to be part of the action, having worked in recent years with a number of amazing retailers on their Canadian market entry. That list includes everyone from Fossil to Pinkberry, Shinola, Le Crueset, American Apparel, Crabtree & Evelyn, Sarah Pacini, Filson and many others. 
Retail Insider recently published an interesting list of 28 high-profile brands that made their Canadian debut in 2015. From Aesop to Alex & Ani, COS, Christian Dior, F21 Red, Gerry Weber, Longchamp, Reiss and Torrid, it was a stellar year for international retailers entering Canada. (CLICK HERE for the full list.)
We have been saying for years that Canada’s retail scene was ripe for a major evolution and it’s happening. 
In recent years, the market has gone from strength to strength, with the opening of new outlet centres, the redevelopment of high-end shopping centres and the market entry of high-profile U.S. and international retailers, including Loft, J. Crew, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Uniqlo, Moncler and Muji to name a few.
Still, consumers want more and the market remains undersaturated. The University of Alberta School of Retailing just published a study that reveals a new crop of international brands and retailers that are confirmed to be entering Canada over the next several years. 
In addition to how this will affect the market and competition, the study discusses the challenges international retailers may face when entering Canada and navigating its diverse geographical and cultural landscape. 
With that in mind, it’s more important than ever that international retailers have an expert on the ground with the right insight and contacts.
With more than 25 years experience in retail real estate, we believe that Think Retail team is that partner. 
We focus exclusively on retail real estate services for tenants, offering a hands-on, personalized approach that encompasses developing and implementing Canadian market entries from planning to touring, introductions, meeting facilitation and managing lease negotiations. We have extensive industry knowledge and relationships with landlords coast to coast, which ensure international clients enjoy a smooth transition. 
Now is the perfect time to make a move and join the growing number of international retailers finding huge success and capitalizing on growth opportunities here in Canada. 
I am always happy to make the time to discuss with interested retailers a potential Canadian market entry. I invite you to contact the Think Retail Team to set up a phone call or in-person meeting at your convenience.