InStore Spring 2024

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is an Everyday
A lovely pink door beckons passersby inside
charming gift
party-supply boutique
inStore inStyle FEATURES 48 Fashion Finds Freshen up your assortment with apparel and jewellery from Canadian suppliers 43 The Best of Canada Putting the spotlight on Canadian-made goods inSight DEPARTMENTS 8 Mailbox Letters to the editor. Have your say! 6 Hello! Unbalanced Playing Field 26 Shop Profile A lovely pink door beckons passersby inside Belle & Bespoke, a charming gift and party-supply boutique in Aurora, Ont., owned by Cynthia Martyn. inForm DEPARTMENTS 22 News & Notes New lines, launches and industry goings-on 54 Retail Visions Merchandising and store design expert Nickeisha Lewis walks us through improving the traffic flow throughout your store FEATURE 38 Runway the Real Way InStore got the lowdown from four Canadian independent fashion retailers on what’s trending, what to buy, where to source and how to sell fashion. THIS ISSUE Spring 2024 inStock DEPARTMENTS 11 Let’s Entertain! New tabletop and kitchenrelated goods 13 Gourmet Goods Canadian-made treats 15 Beach Combers The best beach gear for day tripping 17 Little Luxuries Candle and personal care launches from major brands 19 The Jet Set The latest in nifty travel gear 21 Seasonal Sneak Peek Top selects for the holiday season 26 37 48 contents VOL. 10/NO.03 Bag straps - VIEW THIS ITEM ON PAGE 50 4 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

Unbalanced Playing Field

The absence of effective pandemic support for small businesses is playing out in real time as we painfully watch store after store shutter the doors on their dreams. Not waiving the CEBA loans, while providing free financial aid to corporate giants through wage and rent subsidies underscores a massive imbalance of power.

Multiple governments have allowed entire industries to be gobbled up by foreign players and massive corporations. Thirty years ago, Wal-Mart entered our shores and decimated small businesses in many categories. Then there’s our grocery sector – three major players, no price competition and nada changing despite insane food prices and pleas from Canadians who can’t afford to feed their families.

Meanwhile, politicians are wooing Amazon to set up distribution centres in their towns, creating jobs in the short-term without considering the long-term economic impact on small businesses, not to mention the disastrous environmental impact.

In the business-to-business publishing sector, the largest corporations had rent and workers’ wages subsidized during the pandemic while hundreds of independent publishers, including InStore, were tossed a non-negotiable flat $20,000 regardless of the number of contractors kept fully employed. The result? These cash-flush private corporations are launching new print titles and aggressively competing against successful, independent magazines while having the costs associated with publishing these titles subsidized by government grant money. Talk about crony capitalism.

With free-and-clear cash injections from the government, our country’s richest corporations are more profitable, while the bank balances of small businesses have been decimated.

Anybody up for a protest?

THE DEFINITIVE RESOURCE FOR INDEPENDENT LIFESTYLE RETAILERS inSpire. inForm Editor & Publisher Erica Kirkland Design & Layout Gerry Wiebe Advertising & Production Coordinator Tina Nicholl Advertising Inquiries 905-690-0492 Mailing Address: 103 Niska Drive Waterdown, ON L8B 0M8 Contributors Castlerock Studios, Will Fournier, Leslie Groves, Nickeisha Lewis, Melanie Pugsley InStore Magazine™ was founded independently in 2014 by Erica Kirkland. The magazine is published four times a year and sent to 12,000 independent retailers in Canada selling giftware, home décor, fashion accessories and lifestyle items. © 2024 InStore Magazine™. The contents of this publication are the property of InStore Magazine Inc. Reproduction or use of the contents in whole or in part, for any reason, is strictly prohibited without the written consent of the copyright owner. The publisher is not responsible for product claims made by the companies mentioned herein. Printed in Winnipeg, Man. Publication mail #40841587. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: InStore Magazine™, 103 Niska Drive, Waterdown ON L8B 0M8. Email:
inSight Hello 6 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

inSight Mailbox


If you have something you’d like to share with the community, email owner and editor Erica Kirkland at

Let’s Talk;)

I was so touched by your message of living with PTSD. It was so generous of you to share that personal experience. It has been tough for so many, especially since the pandemic, and yet, as you so eloquently pointed out, that is nothing compared to the huge challenges so many face day to day. You are right - balanced mental health should be a priority for us all!

You showed so much courage and strength sharing your story and being the inspiration for so many struggling with difficult times. We are all struggling in the quickly changing and frightening world we live in. We need to join hands and support one another. You are not alone. We all need one another! Sending much love.

Jacqueline Blackwell, Chief Elf

I found your letter most interesting. You are a very brave, determined and accomplished woman!

Advancing The Industry

Thanks for all you do to advance our trade. It’s so important, and especially so valuable to the strong retail community in Canada, not to mention all your Giftbeat readers everywhere.

Chip Owen, Executive Vice President AvantiPress

I’m a big fan of InStore! I started my store in 2015 with a focus on local and Canadian-made homewares and gifts. We’ve grown and evolved, and survived through Covid, and now represent over 250 makers. We’ve learned about trends and found new makers through your magazine. Thank you for keeping local retail going strong!

Retailers as Rockstars

Product is a big part of retail, but retailers bring that to life. Glad to see the change with retailers on the cover. Keep up the great work.

Small Business Support

Thank you so, so much for including us in so many amazing things. We appreciate you taking the time to promote our family business and help us grow this incredible product!

Bag Source

What are people doing for bags in their stores? I have always had beautiful reuseable bags from L’Emballage Tout, but we can’t get them anymore. What is available now that is classy but suitable for a variety of sizes and items?

Do you have a packaging and bag source you could share? Email editor Erica Kirkland at and we’ll share the source(s) in our next issue.

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is proud to expand our partnership with SAGEBROOK HOME with the launch of ELEVARRE in Canada!

Please visit for sales reps, showroom details, to book an appointment, or to access Shopzio.

Let’s Entertain!

New tabletop and goods for the kitchen


Bee napkins from Sophie Allport, $35 retail for four, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

Versatile cutting/ charcuterie board crafted from solid mango wood by skilled artisans, $64.90 retail, Aesthetic Living,

Infusion drink mixes from One Part Co., $12.99 retail each, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

No More Wine Headaches, $36 retail for pack of eight, Canada Distributor Corp., 905-706-9463

Floral melamine plate from Demdaco, $31.50 for four, Canfloyd, 800-263-3551,

Scratch-off beer bucket list, $24.99 retail, Bella Flor, 800-667-1902,

inStock What We’re Loving
of two rectangular trays handcrafted from solid mango wood, $89.90 retail, Aesthetic Living,
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ANDMORE offers the only sourcing opportunity that curates the best of the East and West Coast, giving you more—no matter where you are.


Showrooms: July 16–22, 2024

Temporaries: July 17–21, 2024

Learn More At


Showrooms: July 28 – August 1, 2024

Temporaries: July 28 – July 31, 2024

Learn More At


Canadian-made treats we love Gourmet Goods

Jar of 42 assorted shortbread cookies

$80 retail, Mary Macleod’s Shortbread, 416-461-4576,

Canadian-made sleep tonic tea, $12 retail, The Lovely Tea Company, 705333-6587,

Culinary lavender, $18 retail, Hereward Farms, 226-779-4973,

Cocktail infusion kits from Maiden Voyage, $28 retail each, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

Detox and wellness tea set, $39.95 retail, The Lovely Tea Company, 705-333-6587,

Spicy maple syrup from Zoe Olive Oil, $22 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

inStock What We’re Loving
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Beach Combers

The best for the beach!

Capleton Road women’s t-shirt dress Hatley Little Blue House, 514-272-8444,

Elastic waistband skirt made in Ontario, $100 retail, Tangente Clothing,

Turkish cotton one-size shorts $130 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656,

Super-cushioned slippers from $21 retail, Snoozies,

Hand-woven Otomi clutch influenced by the traditional Mexican Otomi artwork style, $120 retail, Caravan and Company,

Linen-cotton blend bandeau top from $108 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656,

Capleton Road cover-up Hatley Little Blue House, 514-272-8444,

Becky cover-up made from Turkish cotton, $72 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656,

inStock What We’re Loving inStore. Spring 2024 15

Spascentional inStock

New candles and personal care

Patterned candle scented with honey and orange from Greenleaf, $70 retail, Candym Enterprises, 800-263-3551,

Horizon Meadows candle in glass jar

$15 retail, Nostalgia Import Canada, 800-785-7855,

Rosemary bath soak from Baudelaire $14.99 retail, Bella Flor, 800-667-1902,

Goats milk and honey soap

from Baudelaire, $9.49 retail, Bella Flor, 800-667-1902,

Ollie & Co. Gin & Tonic candle

Canada Distributor Corp., 905-706-9463,

What We’re Loving

Petite jar candle from Capri Blue scented in Havana Vanilla, $38 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

Lightweight, fast-absorbing rejuvenating body oil

from Inis, $40 retail, 888-543-6320,

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Jet Set Supplies

The latest in travel gear

Travel mug

$28.95 retail, Jannex Enterprises, 905-284-8484,

Canadian-made lip butters

$12 retail each, Sarah’s Soaps, 905-246-5652,

Vegan leather artist bag in tan

$65 retail, ESPE Vegan Corp., 905-881-3829,

Tropical notebook

$6 retail, Nostalgia Import Canada, 800-785-7855,

Tortoiseshell phone charm from Ellie Rose, $15 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

We’re Loving
Travel organizer from Legami $29.95 retail, Jannex Enterprises, 905-284-8484,
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Seasonal Sneak Peek

Top selects for the season

Textured ceramic mug

$15 retail, Harman Imports, 800-363-7608,

Pinecone dishtowel set from Tag, $25 retail for two, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950,

Wooden trees

$12.99 and $19.99 retail, Koppers Home, 866-604-0490,

Stoneware nutcracker cannister

$50 retail, Harman Imports, 800-363-7608,


$74.99 retail, Koppers Home, 866-604-0490,

Winterberry flour sack dishtowels

Now Designs by Danica, $24 for three, 888-632-6422,

Wooden crates from $39.90 retail, Bacon Basketware, 800-665-1525,

We’re Loving
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New Line of Children’s Furniture the goods

Little Big Friends

Distributed by PJM Distributions, Little Big Friends is a French brand that offers a variety of soft baby toys, including musical versions, for various stages of growth. The newest additions to the line include dooballs, pull-along toys and educational balls. Shown here is Tim the Tiger, a soft-textured musical animal which retails for $39.99. 604-940-9990,

Eco-Friendly Snack Bags

Colibri snack bags are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bags, and are now being distributed by Fenigo. Made in Canada, the reusable bags retail from $9 to $10 each and are available in three different sizes. In addition to bags, the company offers bowl covers for $32 retail. 519-571-8827,

Tea-Flavoured Candies

Natural Moose has launched a new collection of tea-flavoured candies to complement its Canadianblended teas. Packaged in clear cube boxes, the candies retail for $5.99 with various tea flavours including mocha, sea buckthorn, lemongrass, and green tea and apple. 780-918-0883,

Instant Drink Powders

Superfun! is a new collection of instant beverage powders from Tealish. The sugar-free concoctions feature popular beverage flavours like Chocolate Mint and Orange Creamsicle. These beverage powders are filled with superfoods and functional ingredients. $12.95 retail for a box with eight singleserve pouches.

BBL’s new furniture and home décor collection for children features handmade macrame mobiles and wall hangings from Bali, mini rattan furniture sets and an arched rattan mirror, all made from neutral and natural materials. 905-841 1525,

Artisanal Bath and Body Collection

Handcrafted in Calgary, Alta., the owner-operated business Surf Scents specialises in creating all-natural bath and body products. The items don’t contain harsh chemicals, parabens or artificial colours and perfumes, and they use low-waste packaging. Stores can choose from a wide variety of handmade soaps, shower steamers, bath soaks and body treatment products. 825-801-5053,

inForm News & Notes
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Postpartum Underwear

Like most new moms, the founder of Moon Mama, Lexie Cappuccitti, had never given mesh underwear a second thought until she needed them. “In 2019 I gave birth to twins. The mesh underwear they gave me at the hospital was what my body needed at the time but they were visually underwhelming.” Also, the hospital-issued pair is meant to be disposable, yet Lexie shares, “Every mom I talked to has stories of trying to wash and re-wear their rationed pair for days if not weeks after giving birth.” With a background in fashion, having worked for Preloved, Anthropologie, Indigo, Holt Renfrew and Roots, Lexie sources high-quality knit underwear and hand-dyes each pair for a truly unique pattern. Three pair retail for $39.50. 416-885-5950,

Perfect Fit

After selling out of her first limited-edition collection of adult puzzles this past fall, Kelly Striemer, the founder of B.C.-based Villager Puzzles, has a launched a second limited-edition collection featuring six new designs created by six talented Canadian female artists. The puzzles are all designed by Canadian artists and are made from premium recycled paper board with a matte finish for less glare. The 1000-piece and 500-piece puzzles retail for $30 to $32.

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News & Notes

New Chapter for Independent Retailer

After co-owning James Street Home Décor, a boutique located in Port Stanley, Ont., from 2012 to 2023, Cassandra Kirby worked in the corporate retail world for a scant seven months before realising she wasn’t happy. “I missed the small business world, and everything that came with it, even the ups and downs and the struggles.”

To scratch that insatiable itch, Cassandra is launching Lake & London Home and Lifestyle, which will offer consumers a variety of home décor accents, textiles and lighting options.

Lake & London will run as an e-commerce brand, at least for the time being, offering shipping across Canada and the United States along with in-person styling services for local clients with virtual styling services launching in the future.

All For Knot Celebrates 10 Years

From a one-woman passion project with the aim of keeping traditional Maritime history alive, All For Knot Rope Weaving has grown over the past decade to include a dedicated team of professionals with an extensive wholesale collection.

Based in central Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy, the company is a leading provider of traditional, hand-woven, knot products crafted from highquality rope using traditional finishes.

To celebrate their milestone the company has created framed mirrors inspired by a wall-art installation they created for a Halifax restaurant. 902-641-5668,

The Best Booths at TGHM

InStore had the pleasure of sponsoring and judging the best booth awards at the January 2024 Toronto Gift + Home Market.

The winners were: Hereward Farms for best new and best overall, Nostalgia Imports for best large, V & L Associates for best medium and Deb’s Dips for best small.

Danica: 60 Years Young with New Leadership

Founded in 1964 by Jeremy Braude and Rodney Benson, Danica is commemorating 60 years in business this year and recently announced a “significant step forward in its leadership journey.”

Jonathan Braude, Jeremy’s son, has been promoted to chief product officer after “demonstrating exceptional leadership in previous roles” while Gary Benson, Rodney’s son, a “seasoned leader within the company”, has been named president and COO after leading various departments including sales, marketing and operations.

Bumpas Now Available in Canada

Weighted plush Bumpas are perfectly sized to give realistic hugs with a hands-free hold. Made from high-quality polyester with fine stitching, Bumpas are filled with patented plastic pellets. The weight of the Bumpas helps promote a sense of security to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and create a sense of calm. Distributed in Canada by Bella Flor, 800-667-1902,


In the Winter 2024 issue of InStore, the product here was incorrectly identified. The product description below is correct.

Unbleached cotton tea towel from British artist Julia Gash, available through Lifestyle Market,

inForm News & Notes
Inside Track IN THE NEWS 24 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
A Kaleidoscope of Artistry by


inSight Shop Profile 26 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

Everyday is an Occasion

A lovely pink door beckons passersby inside this charming gift and party-supply boutique

Cynthia Martyn has created a one-stop shop for all of life’s littlest and grandest events. At Belle & Bespoke their logo is, “Everyday is an occasion.”

What makes your store unique?

Belle & Bespoke has become a haven for women in our community. We pride ourselves on being very intentional with the lines we bring into the store – they’re colourful, luxurious eye candy. We want to bring colour back into peoples lives and create a happy place that stands out amongst the rest.

How would you describe your store and its atmosphere?

This is a place intended to bring joy to your day. It’s a hit of dopamine for our customers. With a local focus and a national scope, we want to inspire others with all we have to offer. The visual of it all is eye catching and beautiful and draws people back in time and time again.

What is your background, and why did you get into retail?

I am a serial entrepreneur. Prior to this, I owned a bridal boutique that I sold to my employees. When this space became

JUST THE STATS Store: Belle & Bespoke Location: Aurora, Ont Square Footage: 900 Employees: Three Website: inStore. Spring 2024 27

available in the historic downtown part of Aurora, I saw an opportunity to open a store that would help get the street going again after all the damage the pandemic did to our local retail. The community needed fun shops, and that was what I intended to provide.

To what do you attribute your success?

Honestly, social media is one of our best sources for advertising. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok can be utilized very inexpensively. We are methodical in using white walls and display pieces to showcase our bright colour palettes of products, which helps us stand out from the rest. This is also esthetically pleasing in our social media feeds, creating a cohesive look from what we show online to what you’ll see in store.

How do you promote your store and what are your most successful promotions or marketing mediums?

Again, social media is a huge source of promotion for us and we like to be as community focused and driven as possible. We are involved in our local markets, which we see as more of a promotional opportunity over sales. We also joined our local chamber of commerce which has proven to be a huge support for our business. It has been a valuable tool, constantly promoting us and spreading the word about our shop and getting us involved with street festivals and so much more.

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What has been your most successful recent event?

We launched mystery bags. This created a ton of foot traffic and we were able to move out-of-season inventory which we would have otherwise sat on for too long. It created excitement and enticed so many people to come in for the unexpected.

Do you have a favourite product line?

As the sole buyer, I personally love to use or to gift everything I bring into the store, but my favourite would have to be our Meri Meri party line. It is super high quality, with a variety of themes – this line is closest to my heart.

Looking back, what is the biggest lesson you have learned?

Specifically, when launching, learning to budget was my biggest challenge. You need to know your numbers so you don’t overbuy, and spend your budget wisely. I learned very quickly to be

more methodical on quarterly purchases.

What do you see for the future?

I would like to see our online sales grow - time is our challenge there. We are a small boutique in a small market but have been approached numerous times, as early as three weeks after opening our doors, about possible expansions. This could mean expanding into other markets in other towns. Something we certainly see happening is product development with our own branding and our own designs.

Finally, how do you stay inspired?

Travelling keeps me inspired, checking out shops in other parts of the country and the world. Also, social media can introduce us to beautiful artists’ creations, which may be open to collaborating. This gives small lines and hidden gems the opportunity to be sold in retail environments and in turn, gives retailers exclusive items to offer our customers.

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inStore | Shopping Guide FINE FOODS & GIFTS ALCOHOL-FREE LOW CALORIE ALL NATURAL @TOSTBEVERAGES Toxin-free candles; made from Canadian Beeswax & Coconut Wax, 100% Essential Oils, natural crackling wooden wicks; Handcrafted in Dundas, Ontario The candle that’s good for you & the planet! 30 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

Stationery 2024

Holding true to our belief that handmade things are the best, our hands have printed, folded and packaged each card we send out from our studio to your hands. | contact your DYA rep to order

Shopping Guide | inStore
Spark joy in your everyday.
NEW AROMATHERAPY BLENDS UNWIND lavender | cedarwood INTUNE UPLIFT orange | Beeswax & Essential Oils Available in Canada from Cheeky Bee Candle Co., 23 Main St., P.O.Box 99, Warkworth, ON K0K 3K0 1-866-243-3592 ECO-FRIENDLY • NO FRAGRANCE VISIT OUR BOOTH #1131 FOR A FREE SAMPLE Counter Display Available geranium peppermint eucalyptus inStore. Spring 2024 31
inStore | Shopping Guide 32 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
Shopping Guide | inStore
Unique Earthy Jewellery We ship Canada wide! P L A N T T H E S O A P L A B E L + I T W I L L G R O W I N T O W I L D F L O W E R S W W W C K S O A K B A T H C O C O M C A N A D I A N | H A N D M A D E | A L L N A T U R A L | W O M A N O W N E D I N S T A G R A M @ C K S O A K B A T H C O inStore. Spring 2024 33
St. Catharines, Ontario | (905) 684-7209 | Cell (905) 321-1061 |
inStore | Shopping Guide
pottery that makes you smile 306-867-8011 34 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
Susan Robertson pottery

Shopping Guide | inStore
Products Designed to Practice Mindful Moments & Create Healthy Habits V O D A Natural, Eco-Friendly European Toys & Gifts 905-910-1558 WITH Get Noticed in the summer SUMMER 2024 DEADLINES Submit Products: May 17 Reserve Ad: June 7 Submit Ad Material: June 14 • Gourmet Food • Baby & Kid’s Gift Guide Entertaining • Spa & Personal Care • Fragrances • Fashion Accessories • Jewellery
Stationery WITH inStore. Spring 2024 35
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Steep Dreams

Brew one-of-a-kind experiences in your specialty boutique with products and advice blended just for you

Styling by Leslie Groves Photography by Will Fournier inStore. Spring 2024 37

Runway the Real Way

What’s Trending in Fashion?

Forget the experts. Nobody knows what’s selling better than an actual store owner so we asked four retailers across Canada to give us the lowdown on what to buy and how to sell fashion.

STORE: Bonita Clothing & Co.

LOCATION: Lindsay, Ont.

OWNER: Emma Scully

FAVE FASHION BRANDS: Steve Madden, Dolce Vita, RD Style, YAYA, Rylee & Cru, Levis, Sadie & Sage

During the height of the pandemic, Emma Scully saw the need in her small town for a store that sold trendy clothing. “So, I opened online with a small collection.” By the fall of 2022, Emma had secured a storefront in beautiful Lindsay, across from the town’s historic fire hall.

Where do you source fashion products from?

“When I started, it was from Faire, but now I’ve built relationships with showrooms and reps. I reach out to brands that fit our vibes and vice versa. Instagram has really changed the game in terms of exposure of brands.” As far as shows go, Emma says, “I went to Threadz show in Toronto and was underwhelmed. There were two brands there that we had in our store so it was nice to make personal connections but there was nothing there for my clientele which range in age from 20 to 40ish.”

What styles do you have in store for spring and summer?

“We focus on offering classic and timeless pieces. Rylee & Cru has a lot of functional dresses that we will always order. We have a lot of beach dresses right now, t-shirt dresses and coverups. Lots of brands have a classic collection of items they’ll always have in their line, and we find a lot of good pieces that way. YAYA is a new brand we brought in with a bit of a higher price point but with lots of classics.”

What’s trending right now?

“Everything is very 2000s-based on the runway. Our store will never be ‘runway’, but we take the runway look and make it timeless. There are a lot of silver metallic shoes and pants. My customer base might not be ready for pants, but I’m going to bring in shoes for the fall. Denim on denim is very popular right now – that Britney Spears look. I also see baggy denim tucked in with cowboy boots.”

What are you bringing in for fall and winter?

“I’m pretty much done buying for fall and winter. For footwear, we bought darker browns and blacks. We saw silver and red as statement pieces. We just went for silver. We bought a lot of neutral basic sweaters that you can wear with anything and some with embellishments like a contrasting stitch around the collar. When we transition from summer to

fall, we put out a lot of cardigans, the coastal grandma style, so customers can have a cute dress with cute sweater over top. Fits and shades for denim are lightwashed and trendy gals are looking for a high waist and wider legs. Dark denim is coming back, but it will be a few years before it picks up again.”

What advice can you share with retailers new to selling fashion?

“Follow what your customers want –follow your demographics. Listen to your customers and keep your ear to the ground. When in doubt, look online. Just type in ‘fall outfit and trendy’ on Pinterest or Instagram.” With regards to what to buy and how much, she says, “Most fashion brands have pre-packaged sets and they’re pretty much in line with what sells.”

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STORE: Merry’s Mercantile LOCATION: Bently, Alta. OWNER: Merry Kuchle FAVE FASHION BRANDS: Tribal, Papillon, Liverpool, Wanakome, Linen Luve

This August will mark Merry Kuchle’s fifth anniversary as the owner of Merry’s Mercantile. In a town of just 1000 people, the store carries a bit of everything – antique furniture, apparel, gifts and décor – to appeal to the locals and all the tourists. “We pretty much rely on tourists from other areas throughout the year,” she explains.

Where do you source fashion and find inspiration?

“We do the Trendz show in Edmonton which is okay. I generally don’t find new vendors; I just have appointments with my current vendors. I buy some things online, but mostly in person at the show because I need to touch and feel the fabric because the fabric and how it feels is such an integral reason behind why people buy. Papillon comes to my store and brings their racks for us to shop through in our store.” As for trends, “I have a 24-year-old stepdaughter so I’m always looking at what she’s wearing and imagine how that could work in my store. I look at what people are wearing when I’m out and about and always note what my customers are wearing.”

What do you have in store now for spring and summer?

Since Covid, people aren’t going back to the office or they aren’t wearing the same clothes to the office as they did before. It’s more business casual and customers are looking for clothes that they can wear on the weekend and at work. We buy a lot of pieces with stretch and less structure. For spring, we have a lot of green and navy. Linen is a big thing for us in summer and Linen Luve has a stretchable panel in the back of their linen dresses which our

customers love. We also have shorts, summer dresses, cover-ups, swimsuits, jeans in fun summer colours and cropped pants. And the Vionic runner is a big footwear brand for us in the summer.”

What are you bringing in for fall and winter?

“Again, upscale casual. One thing I did do differently was bring in more formal pieces for Christmas. Having holiday parties is trending again – people are getting dressed up for the holidays. I also brought in a great selection of outerwear because we live in Canada and we wear jackets eight months of the year. Jeans, coloured jeans, a bit of trousers, coats, jackets, tunics, sweater dresses,

sweaters, a light-weight shacket. For fall and winter, we’re bringing in Taxi for footwear.

What are the differences between buying and selling fashion vs. gift? “Gift is a bit easier because you can look around and follow trends which are mainstream. With clothing, it’s so dependent on what the customer does for work, their age and how much disposable income they have.” Also, in fashion the buying patterns are different and the ability to reorder bestsellers in season is not the norm. “You must order six months in advance. Part of the reason I love Papillon is because they always have fill. Tribal sometimes does because they have a huge line, but it might not be the style that sold or ones you want.”

Like most buyers, Merry has learned that it’s important to not just buy pieces she likes. “I keep notes on what sold well and what didn’t so I don’t bring it in again. It’s easy to forget because you might like it. Don’t just buy things that you like. Look at what your customers like too.”

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What’s Trending in Fashion?

STORES: Coriander Life & Coriander Style

LOCATION: Collingwood, Ont.

OWNER: Sarah Harrison

FAVE FASHION BRANDS: Saxx, Free People, Liverpool, French Dressing, Duer

This spring, Sarah Harrison will celebrate 25 years running her retail businesses - and before that she spent years as a wholesaler, travelling the world sourcing products for independents. You could say that retail is in her blood –her mother had seven lingerie stores and retail was talked about around the dinner table most nights.

Where do you source fashion products from?

“Since January, I’ve been to so many shows. The reason I have this business is because I love to travel. I went to Magic in Miami and then Top Drawer in London. I did the Toronto shows and then Coterie, Magic and Brand Assembly in New York. Each season, I either go to New York or Atlanta – it’s important.

What’s trending right now?

“Oversized coats. Grandpa and grandma cardigans. The androgynous look - there was nothing feminine about any of the lines I saw in New York. Long satin skirts

in taupe, cream, black and chocolate that pair well with a jean jacket. Everything is about layering – not a super dressy look. Maxi skirts in denim with cargo pockets or a front slit are everywhere, and sneakers with everything; that’s a trend that’s not going away.

What are the differences between buying and selling fashion vs. gift?

“People who walk into fashion and gift stores are looking for different experiences. My fashion store gets way less traffic than the gift store because the gift store attracts families, couples, and men and women of all ages that the fashion store doesn’t. However, the average transaction in the gift store is way, way lower. In clothing, it’s a very different selling situation. You could spend two hours with somebody helping them pick out a new wardrobe and they’ll spend $1000. It’s about offering the girlfriend experience. What we’re selling in clothing is confidence. The gift store is quirky and fresh – there we are selling fun! When I’m training new staff, I tell them working

in the gift store is like hosting a cocktail party – your eyes are everywhere and you’re always anticipating needs. I need a young team because there’s a lot of energy expended by that level of service. One of my stores takes a lot of stamina and the other takes compassion and empathy.”

What advice can you share with retailers new to selling fashion?

“You’ve got to be very selective with your product selection. For example, I would never suggest that a gift store put denim in because of the inventory you must carry – all the washes, sizes and lengths. It’s expensive to sell denim. People like to try on 10 pairs before they buy. I’d start with hats, scarves, mitts, gloves, jewellery and move into clothing. The prices should be in line with the other products you carry. Obviously apparel is a little higher price point. The one-size-fits-all is what’s pitched to stores new to fashion, but I think stores could do better than that. Search out a great sweatshirt line and a line of cute little wrap skirts or some fun sweaters and go from there.”

“People who walk into fashion and gift stores are looking for different experiences. My fashion store gets way less traffic than the gift store. However, the average transaction in the gift store is way,way lower.”
40 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

What’s Trending in Fashion?

The Plum Tree Gift Shoppe is celebrating its 16th anniversary this spring and Nicole MacGillivray is the store’s third owner.

“Before this, I worked at Central Supplies (like a Home Hardware) and I was the buyer for home décor. When Kent bought out Central Supplies, this store came up for sale and I took the leap. I knew the previous owners because it’s a small town, and I have one employee who’s been here the entire 16 years.”

What do you have in store now for spring and summer?

“This spring it’s all about crocheted sweaters. Also, vibrant colours and pastels. Sometimes it’s either or but this season it’s both. Wide-legged pants are still a big deal. Satin silky skirts and denim skirts. Dresses are still big. Business casual, boho-chic and then more formal dresses.”

What are you bringing in for fall and winter?

“Easy-to-wear, comfy, wide-legged lounge pieces you can wear to work in rich colours plus more denim, skirts and day-to-night type outfits. We like to buy

“With clothing, you’re basically booking six months or more in advance. A lot of things sell out right away, but most companies only order what’s been booked. We do have some opportunities to refill, but I find that once it’s gone, we’re done. We don’t want a dozen people walking through town with the same coat.”

things that are versatile; something you can wear to work and in the evening. We also like to buy items that transition into different seasons.”

What are the differences between buying and selling fashion vs. gift?

“The thing about gift, is that we buy almost weekly – reordering to fill in and we’re always on board with new things. With clothing, you’re basically booking six months or more in advance. A lot of things sell out right away, but most companies only order what’s been booked. We do have some opportunities to refill, but I find that once it’s gone, we’re done. We don’t want a dozen people walking through town with the same coat.”

Did you make any mistakes when you first started carrying fashion?

“When I first started buying, I bought too much and too much of one thing. Be cognisant that one-size-fits-all is not always the case. There’s a lot of trial and error in terms of sizing. With some lines, their clothing runs a bit smaller, so we get to know what size runs work best for our clientele depending on the brand. You get to know your brands well.”

STORE: The Plum Tree Gift Shoppe

LOCATION: Antigonish, N.S.

OWNER: Nicole MacGillivray

FAVE FASHION BRANDS: Dex, Blacktape, Steve Madden, I Love Taylor Madison

inStore. Spring 2024 41

Are you ready to spark meaningful connections with fellow store owners?

Exclusively for Retailers INSPIRING CONVERSATIONS

AUGUST 13 @ 6:30 PM


InStore Magazine Presents: Inspiring Conversations

Join InStore Magazine founder, Erica Kirkland, this August for an unparalleled evening tailored *exclusively* for retailers to engage and connect. After the shows close, gather at the Delta with your badge and immerse yourself in directed roundtable discussions with retailers from across the country. Depart with a network of peers to support you year-round!

DATE: Tuesday, August 13

VENUE: Delta Toronto Airport 655 Dixon Rd

TIME: 6:30 p.m

TICKETS: $60 (Limited to 120)

Includes delectable sweet and savory delights, a cash bar, and a swag bag brimming with goodies


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Help make this evening even more unforgettable for attendees by sponsoring this event. Contact Erica at for more details.

The of

Best Canada

Our Favourite Products from the Great North

Styling by Leslie Groves Photography by Will Fournier
inStore. Spring 2024 43

The Best of Canada

Our Favourite Products from the Great North

Canvas plant pot cover

made in Barrie, Ont., $19.99 retail, Leaf & Root Co., 705-715-2287,

Made-to-order framed map print

$45 retail, Red Door Maps,

Handmade rectangular dish

$25.50 retail, Susan Robertson Pottery, 306-867-8011,

Enamel pins

Mini embroidery kit

$30 retail, Maidenwood Embroidery Designs,

$12 retail each, Crystal Driedger, 780-667-0503,

44 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

Buffalo-hide leather coaster set

$40 retail, Hides in Hand, 519- 856-4505,

Magnetic bookmarks

$10 retail, Maylay Co.,

Mini canvas plant pot cover

in Barrie, Ont., $6.99 retail, Leaf & Root Co., 705-715-2287,

made Sunflowers Gratitude greeting card $8.50 retail,
inStore. Spring 2024 45
Connection and self-care cards, $25 retail each, Voda Retreats,

The Best of Canada

Our Favourite Products from the Great North

Soy candle

hand-poured in Digby, N.S. scented with grapefruit, pink tangerine and aloe vera, $28 retail,,

Be Lush Summer

Mix stovetop potpourri handmade in Lethbridge, Alta., $16.99 retail, Simmer and Co.,

Wooden-wick candle

handmade in Ontario, delicately scented with lavender, zesty lemon and invigorating mint, $38 retail, Ukiyo Candle Co., 437-882-6565,

Certified all-natural, wooden-wick soy candle handmade in Kentville, N.S. scented with Palo Santo and cedar, $34 retail, Noel & Co.,

Shower steamers handmade in Okotoks, Alta., scented with grapefruit and Yuzu, $22 retail, 403-995-3745,

Sustainably-crafted wooden-wick soy candles

handmade in Airdrie, Alta., $27 retail, Farmhouse Charm Candles, 403-401-8970,

Wooden-wick candle in reusable ceramic jar handmade in Dundas, Ont., from Canadan beeswax and coconut oil, $29.99 to $49.99, Green Ash, hello@greenashdecor,

46 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

New from Wind River®

We’re thrilled to introduce the latest offerings from Wind River® — our gorgeous new meditation chimes (available in 2 convenient sizes), a striking new black version of our popular Festival® chimes, and of course, the lively new color from our best selling Corinthian Bells®, Sky Blue.

All are in stock and ready to ship. Order yours today to bring them to your store.

Wind River®


NO BORING SOCKS. ® Morning Glory Ankle inStore. Spring 2024 47

Fashion Finds

48 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
Styling by Leslie Groves
inStore. Spring 2024 49
Photography by Will Fournier
New Picks to Freshen Up Your Store

Fashion Finds

New Picks to Freshen Up Your Store

Large cosmetic pouch in dusty rose $40 retail, Lover’s Tempo, 604-871-3302,

Citron Messenger bag in sage $95 retail, ESPE Vegan Corp., 905-881-3829,

Small pink bag from $58 retail, Bella Accessories, 613-676-1293,

Grace Mini crossbody in yellow $58 retail, ESPE Vegan Corp., 905-881-3829,

Catbloom embroidered pouch from Danica Studio, from $30, 888-632-6422,

Bag straps

$25 retail each, Bella Accessories, 613-676-1293,

Bamboo ribbed tank top in celery

Made in Ontario, $75 retail, Tangente Clothing,

Elastic waistband short in linen blend

Made in Ontario, $100 retail, Tangente Clothing,

50 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
ONLY AT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE MISSISSAUGA, ON Canada’s fastest growing B2B tradeshow in the gift, home, and fashion industries Interested in exhibiting? Contact us today In partnership with Jewelry Footwear Accessories Beauty + Wellness Toys, Baby + Child Home Handbags + Luggage Gift Apparel Food Paper Goods + Stationery Made in Canada AT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE August 11 – 13 Exhibits August 8 - 15 Show T.O. Showrooms

Fashion Finds

New Picks to Freshen Up Your Store

Celeste necklace made in Canada

$32.50 retail, Little Lotus Designs,,

Vibes bracelet stack

$65 for set of three, Little Lotus Designs,

Lotus ring

$21.50 retail; Boho ring, $26.50 retail. Handmade in Canada. Little Lotus Designs,,

Flower earrings handmade in Canada from salvaged copper, $45, David Stepan, 782-234-0486,

Earrings handmade in St. Albert Alta. from 4-karat gold vermeil., $108 retail, Haiku Lane Jewelry,,

52 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.

Hammered flower earrings

$25 retail, Suzie Blue,

Mazie Mae necklace

$21.95 retail, Axicon World Imports, 800-465-5587,

Necklace handmade in St. Albert, Alta. from 4-karat gold vermeil, $118 retail, Haiku Lane Jewelry,,

Necklace cast from lace using solid sterling silver handcrafted in Canada, $70 retail, Sarah Ana Designs 416-300-3956,

inStore. Spring 2024 53

Improve Customer Flow W

hen the seasons shift and the air becomes crisp, that’s the signal that your store is ready for another seasonal transformation. During the fall/winter season, infuse your store with a warm and cosy feel while ensuring the flow of your space affords for a relaxing and enjoyable shopping experience at peak times.


Pay close attention to how customers shop your store including their favourite spots. Identify any areas that might need a little TLC.


Ensure there’s ample space for people to move comfortably around your entire store, particularly if you’ll be carrying bulkier clothing.


Position seasonal displays and items in places where they can be easily viewed to attract attention.


During the holiday rush, introduce a queuing system that leads customers through the line with strategically placed displays. Transform their wait times into opportunities for them to discover delightful items they hadn’t previously seen.


As the holiday season approaches, anticipate an influx of early shoppers and empower your staff to manage this increased activity. Equip them with the information they need to field inquiries about products and promotions, and inspire them to exceed

expectations by creating a welcoming and hospitable atmosphere.


Stay agile while the season’s traffic flow fluctuates. Adapt staffing schedules which account for times when your foot traffic is the heaviest.


As the days grow shorter, create a cozy atmosphere by illuminating your store with warm, inviting lighting.


Identify opportunities to grow by analyzing your sales trends and customer behaviour. Create visually exciting displays that ignite curiosity, enticing customers to touch and explore the display.


Your customers’ experience begins at the outside of your store. Create an inviting exterior with seasonalthemed decorations. Seasonal displays, foliage and window decals all help to evoke a cozy ambiance.

Mastering customer flow during the holiday rush is an ongoing process as products sell out and displays need to be adjusted. Good luck and cheers to a successful season!

Nickeisha Lewis is the founder of Nola Designs, a retail interior design firm based out of Kitchener, Ont. Nickeisha and her team focus on helping female-owned businesses take their retail stores to the next level.

inSight Retail Visions 54 inStore. Spring 2024 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
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