Well, folks, the Poppy Barley Southgate Flagship at Southgate Centre in Edmonton has opened and it’s in full swing! We started flirting with the idea of opening a retail store a couple years ago. Our original vision for Poppy Barley was a pure play e-commerce store. While sitting at two rented desks at Startup Edmonton, we quickly discovered people wanted to shop in person. People would drop in all the time to “see the boots”. This lead to pop-up sales in Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon and Toronto, a showroom on Whyte Avenue and, finally, THIS retail store.
The Poppy Barley team is creative and confident when it comes to design—from footwear to handbags to web design and packaging—and we felt strongly about hiring a commercial interior design professional for the store. That’s where Sarah Ward Interiors came in. Sarah is the mastermind behind some of Calgary’s best interiors: The Nash, Proof Cocktail Bar and Corbeaux Bakehouse. Sarah was also one of our earliest customers. Sarah understood our brand, and most importantly—our budget!
Let’s talk budget. Ours was small, but sufficient enough to design a space reflective of our brand. Truly living our value of #LuxuryForThePeople meant a few splurges. And sticking to a budget meant saying goodbye to some of our really great ideas. With everything we do at Poppy Barley, we try to start small. If the concept proves successful, we invest more confidently. The same philosophy applied to our retail store. Southgate Centre is one of the top malls in Canada. If thousands of people are going to walk by our store each day, we needed to be damn proud of it.
While we had preliminary conversations with Sarah as early as November, we started working together in full-force in March (exactly 5-months before store opening). We started with Pinterest boards and a kickoff meeting to identify our goals, objectives, budget and scope of work. We imagined the Poppy Barley brand brought to life—shoes! Swinging chairs! Plants (apparently they need sunlight and thus die in malls)! Interactive screens! Shoe-selfie area! Beautiful, intricate rugs to protect soles of shoes! Then the reality of a 1,000 sq ft space and our budget set-in. We narrowed down our design requirements. Sarah then presented us with an inspiration board and floor plan. From there, it was a lot of back-and-forth (so many creative people!). Finally, we had a master design plan and floorplan. Together, we found contractors and started sourcing furnishings and fixtures.
Our budget made us say goodbye to Sarah at this time. The Poppy Barley team took over. Kate, our incredible store manager, stepped into role of general contractor. Kate practically became an expert on electrical, flooring and painting. Our designer, Monica, imagined and created all the visuals to tell the Poppy Barley brand story—from our Leather Gallery and Sustainability Report to our Measurement Lounge. Vanessa, our junior graphic designer, created the most stunning illustration of a street in Mexico to celebrate our Mexico people and factories. (You can meet some of our team here.)
We discovered exactly how exorbitantly pricey large format printing is. We scoured online and drove all over town to find the right furniture and fixtures. And we relied heavily on our friends; let me highlight a few:
Oliver Apt.: Landon and his team did all the millwork for us, including handcrafted baltic birch shelving, shoe displays and display tables (their iconic High Level Tables and Strathcona Tables). Oliver Apt shares our love of handcrafted, quality product. We can’t recommend them enough!
River City Tile Company: The drama of the store is our checkout desk. The desk is wrapped in encaustic cement tile in a traditional clover and star pattern. Encaustic cement tiles are cool because they're all made by hand - no kiln firing - making them very eco-friendly. It also preserves a way of making tiles that is hundreds of years old. And the owners of River City Tile Company are rad and young.
Tonic Living: The brightly coloured textiles and ottoman cubes are from Tonic Living in Toronto. The owner, Janine, is another Poppy Barley fan. She spreads PB love all over Ontario. We’re sharing the Tonic Living love in Edmonton.
Article: The caramel coloured benches are from Article. Originally, we wanted to design our own benches, crafted in our leather, but budget, budget, budget! We love the Canadian company, Article, and love the look of the daybeds in our space.
Titanium Painting—you were awesome … and we love that you salsa dance in your spare time. KBM Flooring, thanks for your patience when we ran out of flooring (rookie mistake!). Brite-view, thanks for sending the owner to install the mirrors to meet our store opening deadline. And Eric, you’re likely the nicest electrician we’ve ever met. Thank you!
We’re all ready for you, so please come visit Poppy Barley at Southgate.