Must Read: How Shinola Went From Shoe Polish to the Coolest Brand in America

September 16, 2015

At Think Retail we are always interested in talking about and getting to know cool and exciting brands. These days, Shinola is on our radar.  Founded in 2011, Shinola designs and manufactures a range of luxury products, including watches, belts, bicycles, pocket knives, clothing and leather accessories.

The Shinola name, which comes from an old shoe polish label, has become a cultural phenomenon, with mentions on late-night television and plenty of unsolicited celebrity endorsements.

Shinola is already diversifying into new categories and securing its reputation as a full lifestyle brand.Products are sold internationally online and via a select group of retail partners, however it also has nine stand-alone stores in the U.S. The company does an amazing job of making its stores true destination spaces, where people gather for community events, such as whiskey tasting.

What’s most exciting (at least in our business) is Shinola has big plans for expansion. In the U.S., the aim is to have 16 stores by year’s end, with plans for up to a dozen more each year thereafter: Shinola already has a shop in London and is eying other international markets.

I encourage you to check out Robert Klara’s great piece, published in AdWeek, which celebrates the rise of Shinola by delving into its backstory and discussing what’s next for this fascinating brand: “How Shinola went from shoe polish to the coolest brand in America, Nobody’s confusing shit with Shinola anymore.”

Drop me an email and let me know that you think.

Le Creuset Turns Up Heat in Ottawa and Edmonton

September 15, 2015

 It’s an exciting time for the iconic Le Creuset brand in Canada, as the company announces two new market entry deals that will see it debuting its signature colourful cookware stores in Ottawa and Edmonton.
In October, Le Creuset will open an 1,100 sq. ft. store at Southgate Centre, south Edmonton’s largest shopping centre.  The mall, which opened in 1970 and has since undergone three major renovations and expansions, is a premier shopping destination with more than 165 stores and services that bring what owners Ivanhoe Cambridge describe as: “an unmatched level of refinement to the retail experience in the city.” The centre is the perfect fit for Le Creuset’s debut in Edmonton.
Next week, Le Creuset will open its first Ottawa location—and its third in Ontario—at 517 Sussex Drive. The sophisticated brand will be right at home in its new 1,130 sq. ft. space, strategically situated in the heart of this bustling high-end shopping strip in the city’s downtown core.
In addition, Le Creuset is gearing up for its previously announced debut in British Columbia. A 2,200 sq. ft. store to open on South Granville Street in Vancouver the first week of November.
The Vancouver and Ottawa stores are particularly exciting because they mark Le Creuset’s first high street locations in Canada.
Le Creuset will have eight stores in Canada by the end of 2015—the brand is hot, hot, hot. Last month, Le Creuset opened a 1,050 sq. ft. store opened at Bayview Village in Toronto and a 800 sq. ft. relocated store at Place Ste. Foy in Quebec City.
Le Creuset continues to expand and an area of particular interest is downtown Montreal, where it would like to open a flagship high street store in the next year—ideal spaces are 750 to 1,250 sq. ft. The company is also looking to make its mark in the Halifax market, where it will consider super regional malls, as well as major street locations.
The brand—founded in Northern France in 1925—is very popular among Canadian consumers, who appreciate its signature combination of quality, functionality and colorful aesthetics. In Canada, Le Creuset is the No. 1 bridal registry brand and it’s consistently the No. 1 or No. 2 cookware supplier to all the company’s trading partners.While its products are distributed in more than 30 countries via its partnerships with specialty retailers and high-end department stores, Le Creuset also has more than 250 of its own brand name stores in 25 countries—these stores carry a bolstered selection of its diverse products that aren’t available elsewhere.
At Think Retail, we are thrilled to work with this marquee brand to expand its presence in top-tier locations across the country.
For more about this Le Creuset, please visit or contact the Think Retail Team.

Lolë Puts the ‘OM’ in the Canadian Retail Market

September 14, 2015

At Think Retail, we are thrilled to work with some of the world’s marquee brands and Lolë is one such player. Founded in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002, Lolë has evolved into a phenomenal brand that seems to do everything right, from design to marketing to customer relations and expansion.
In July, Lolë opened a 1,350 sq. ft. store at The Core in Calgary, marking the retailer’s first in the city and fifth in the province of Alberta. In addition to the 2,476 sq. ft. marquee flagship store to open next week at 954 Rue Ste-Catherine West in Montreal, the company is now sharing plans to open two new Ontario stores in Q4, just in time for the busy holiday shopping season.
An 1,800 sq. ft. store is under construction at Vaughan Mills, a destination shopping centre bristling with top brands in the world of fashion and dining. It’s the activewear brand’s third outlet location in Canada (another opened in July at Vancouver’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet). 
Lolë will also take its place in another destination shopping mecca—The Toronto Eaton Centre. This 1,500 sq. ft. store will open later this year in the mall’s newly renovated north section, which is in the midst of welcoming more than 25 high-profile brands. 
Simply put, Lolë is hitting it out of the park with major flagship deals—more exciting plans are in the works and we will share details soon.
Lolë is owned by Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which operates in the U.S., France and Hong Kong. Lolë has licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. Lolë is sold in 200 “shop-in-shops” and is available at 1,600 retail outlets worldwide. 
Lolë also has close to 50 of its own-brand stores in major cities around the world, including flagships in the prestigious Marais area in Paris and Soho neighbourhood in New York. In Canada, Lolë has 24 stand-alone locations, including two airport stores and two outlets.
As part of its annual White Tour, Lolë this summer touched down in several of these cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Paris and New York (a record 10,000 people gathered in Central Park for a grand-scale community yoga session). This White Tour is a phenomenon sight to behold, with more than 50,000 people participating so far this year: I encourage you to check out the video links, which are very inspiring. Participants are required to wear white (a symbol of peace) and each is given a yellow yoga mat (Lolë’s brand colour) to use during the session. Another is slated for LA in November.
Lolë is the embodiment of a true lifestyle brand and has really proven itself a master at engaging with its customers, both on a grand scale, as with the White Tour, and at the retail level.  
Its stores, which the company refers to as ateliers, are always a joy to visit. They offer a refreshing take on the traditional storefront, providing a place to not only shop, but also connect with the brand and other like-minded community members. Lolë cultivates its target audience by organizing free twice-weekly exercise meet-ups at local parks, as well as onsite lectures by yoga\pilates specialists and nutrition experts.  
Lolë continues to grow its footprint, with plans to open 75 stores worldwide in the next three years.
At Think Retail, we’ve partnered with Lolë as its exclusive Canadian real estate broker since 2011 and we excited to work on growing this great brand in well-positioned strategic spaces of 1,250 to 2,000 sq. ft. on downtown high streets, in super regional shopping centres and select outlets.
To learn more about Lolë’s and its expansion plans in Canada, visit or contact the Think Retail Team.

Expansion on the menu at Marcello’s Market & Deli

August 20, 2015

Think Retail is pleased to partner with Marcello’s Market & Deli to help facilitate the company’s expansion in Eastern Canada. 
Founded in Ottawa in 1997, Marcello’s is a well-established and brand with more than 25 locations in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. We are looking forward to working with company president, Fadi Kachi, as he and his team build the brand in new markets: It’s an exciting time for growth. 
Marcello’s prides itself in being an affordable marketplace for busy professionals, offering on-the-go nourishment, value, variety and service. Its locations have a European feel and offer great food in a warm, modern atmosphere. 
Stores feature fresh produce, deli items, grocery items and freshly prepared take-out food, as well as a hot and cold buffet with more than 20 dishes cooked daily. There’s something for every taste, from veal parmesan to beef bourguignon, tacos, chicken curry salad, seafood chowder, pastas and a wide range of vegetarian options. Its tagline definitely delivers: “Discover a World of Taste at Marcello’s.”
Marcello’s is an ideal tenant because it appeals to a varied audience, from those popping in for a quick coffee and biscotti in the morning, to individuals looking for a freshly made nutritious meal, or a catered lunch for the office.
As Marcello’s ramps up its plans for Canada-wide expansion, our immediate focus is on securing sites in downtown Toronto and Montreal.     
Targetted areas include the financial core and optimal spaces are in office buildings, mixed-use towers and shopping centres with an office tower component. Street-front access is preferable, but Marcello’s will consider going inline for the right opportunity.  Size is somewhat flexible, ranging from 1,500 sq. ft. to as much as 4,000 sq. ft., depending on the location. 
For more about this fresh brand and its plans for expansion, please visit or contact the Think Retail Team. 

Merrell steps into the Canadian market with two new outlets

August 03, 2015

We are thrilled to welcome Merrell to the Canadian market and to the Think Retail client-partner team, as the company has named us as their exclusive Canadian broker.

Merrell is a marquee brand that’s built a strong and dedicated following for its quality outdoor footwear and clothing.

The company dates back to 1981 when two executives for the Rosignol ski company joined forces with shoemaker Randy Merrell to create an affordable high-performance boot, which customers soon dubbed ‘the best boots ever made.’

Next up, Backpacker Magazine named them "the most comfortable and functional boots in North America" and word soon spread. During the next couple of decades, the company built it following and its collection, which grew to encompass several designs and lines, including footwear for women and children, as well as Merrell Apparel, which launched in 2006.

Today Merrell is owned by Wolverine World Wide, one of the largest footwear manufacturers in the world and the powerhouse behind a slew of high-profile quality brands, including its namesake, as well as Sperry, Saucony, Stride Rite, Hush Puppies, Keds, Sebago, Chaco and more.

With headquarters in Rockford, Michigan, Merrell is an international success story, with its products sold in more than 150 countries and its retail stores operating around the globe.

Merrell will open its first two in Canada on August 7. Merrell stores typically range from 3,000 to 3,500 sq. ft.: A 3,150 sq. ft. store will open at Tanger Outlets Ottawa and a 3,500 sq. ft. store at Tanger Outlets Cookstown, just south of Barrie, Ont. and ideally situated 45 minutes north of Toronto, en route to cottage country.

Thus far, no further stores are planned for 2015. However, we look forward to watching Merrell further build its following and its fan base in Canada with these two exciting new stores.

For more information about this all-encompassing lifestyle and performance brand, visit or contact the Think Retail team.

Le Creuset serves up plans for three new stores

July 29, 2015

The iconic Le Creuset brand is bringing its signature pop of colourful sophistication to more Canadian tables and retail centres, with the opening of a fresh selection of new stores. 
Two weeks ago, Le Creuset opened a 1,050 sq. ft. store opened at Bayview Village in Toronto; and just last week, the company opened an 800 sq. ft. at Place Ste. Foy in Quebec City.
In addition, the company is to make its debut in British Columbia with a 2,200 sq. ft. store on South Granville Street, which scheduled to open December 1st. This is particularly exciting because it marks Le Creuset’s first high street location in Canada.
This will bring to six the number of Le Creuset stores in Canada by the end of 2015. 
Le Creuset continues to expand and several exciting announcements are in the works. In the meantime, areas of particular interest include, downtown Montreal and downtown Vancouver—ideal spaces are 750 to 1,250 sq. ft. on major street fronts. The company is also considering the Halifax market.
The brand has proven very popular among Canadian consumers, who appreciate the combination of quality, functionality and aesthetics. In Canada, Le Creuset is the No. 1 bridal registry brand and it’s consistently the No. 1 or No. 2 cookware supplier to all the company’s trading partners.
Since its launch in 1925 in Fresnoy Le Grand in Northern France, Le Creuset has built a strong reputation for its highest quality Enameled Cast Iron cookware. The company celebrates tradition, manufacturing its cast iron in the original foundry and ensuring unparalleled quality control, with each piece passing through the hands of 15 skilled artisans to ensure perfection.
Products are distributed in more than 30 countries, via its partnerships with specialty retailers and high-end department stores, however Le Creuset is also a retail success story, with more than 250 of its own brand name stores operating in 25 countries—it’s own stores carry an exclusive selection of its diverse products, some of which can’t be found anywhere else. 
As a company, Le Creuset is fully self- financed and delivers consistently strong financial results, bolstered strategic efforts to branch into new markets and categories. It also owns Hallen International Inc., a maker of popular wine accessories under the Screwpull trademark. Le Creuset also offers an evolving collections of exciting kitchen tools and gadgets, dinnerware, professional stainless steel cookware, textiles and related accessories. 
This is a premium brand with a wonderful vibe that appeals to a wide audience. The Times of London includes Le Creuset on its respected list of the “Top 100 Worldwide Brands.” As well, it’s popular among celebrity chefs and has the honour of being one of Oprah’s ‘Favourite Things’. In addition, Le Creuset is the most searched housewares brand in North America, according to AOL, Google and Yahoo.
Here in Canada, Think Retail works with Le Creuset on expanding its presence in top-tier locations across the country. Its stores are destination spaces, designed to tell a brand and product story that takes retail to a higher level. The ambiance truly reflects the brand’s sophisticated, yet playful, essence and each location is customized based on the store specifics. The retailer further drives excitement and traffic with key in-store events combined with regular cooking demos. As a result, Le Creuset continues to generate considerable recognition and cache with affluent households in Canada.
For more information about this best-in-class brand, please visit or contact the Think Retail Team.