Popular footwear and fashion retailer gravitypope is contemplating expansion, and is particularly interested to expand with a larger ‘lifestyle store’ concept. Opportunity could occur in existing markets that it serves, as well as eventual expansion into new Canadian cities. We interviewed gravitypope’s founder and owner, Louise Dirks, to learn more.
gravitypope (spelled lowercase) was founded in 1990 as a single shoe store on Edmonton’s trendy Whyte Avenue. In the mid 1990’s, it expanded its offerings to include designer ready-to-wear. gravitypope opened a location on Calgary’s fashionable 17th Avenue S.W. in the year 2000 and in 2004, a Vancouver location opened on West 4th Avenue in the popular Kitsilano area.
gravitypope’s well-curated designer clothing section became so popular that it soon warranted its own free-standing stores. In 2007, two ready-to-wear clothing boutiques, called gravitypope Tailored Goods, opened in Edmonton and Vancouver. Vancouver’s Tailored Goods is located next to gravitypope’s footwear boutique, while its Edmonton location is two blocks east of its footwear shop, on Gateway Boulevard.
In late 2012, gravitypope opened its largest location on Toronto’s hip West Queen West. Carrying footwear, clothing, accessories and apothecary, the store spans about 4,000 square feet of retail space, as well as an additional 2,500 square feet for storage. The two-level store features a 2,700 square foot ground floor devoted to footwear, and a 1,400 square foot mezzanine for men’s and women’s clothing.
We spoke with gravitypope founder and owner Louise Dirks, who gave insight into the retailer’s expansion plans. Ms. Dirks would like to eventually operate a collection of larger ‘lifestyle stores’, merging hard to find, quality collections of footwear, clothing, accessories, an apothecary and if the footprint permits, even on-site coffee shops. Each of these stores would ideally be in the 8,000 to 10,000 square foot range.
Ms. Dirks says that gravitypope could very well expand into other Canadian cities. The first city to possibly see a new store would be Montreal, as Ms. Dirks has received numerous email requests from locals. gravitypope will first focus its growth on current markets, however, merging footwear with fashion, and possibly coffee…
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