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Designing Our Vancouver Store: Creating a Unique Retail Experience

6-minute read

On May 5, 2023, we opened the doors to our first (highly anticipated!) store in Vancouver! Read on to learn about how we applied our design filter to create a unique retail experience.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to bring a retail experience to life? It’s an exciting endeavor that comes with a handful of challenging decisions and important considerations. We sat down with Poppy Barley’s Visual Brand Lead, Harley Wallace, to ask her about designing our W 4th store location in Vancouver.

How do you approach the design of a new store?

When designing our new Vancouver store, the Poppy Barley team is thinking through the entire customer journey from catching someone’s eye walking down the street, to the browsing and try-on experience to the checkout experience. Every decision we make is rooted in creating a memorable Poppy Barley brand experience from start to finish.

That’s a lot to consider. So then where does one begin the store design process?

We began the design process for our retail store by creating a list of operational requirements. This guides our initial layout concept, and helps us think through the amount of space we want to allocate to product display, storage in the backroom, and customer seating. The space itself also played a role early on in the design process, as the smaller footprint of about 1200 square feet limited the number layout options we had.

Floorplan of the West 4th store

1200 sq. ft. is pretty teeny for a shoe store! How are you optimizing the space?

It is teeny! This was one of the biggest challenges of our YVR store design. For reference, the YVR store is almost half the size of our current YEG and YYC stores!

As always, good design is problem-solving and understanding our constraints is a really important step early on to maximize space and create a layout that flows effectively. To start, we got creative with storage and identified new rolling solutions for shelving in our backroom. This allows us to fit the product we need in a small space.

We were also very intentional with our display designs both from a flexibility perspective and from a square footage perspective. For example, we integrated display areas into our “try-on stations,” so that our furniture was multi-functional. We’re also incorporating a modular shelving system that can be easily rearranged to best showcase the products we have available at that time.

What aspects of the customer experience are most important when designing a store?

Envisioning the store experience is a really fun phase, because we get to think about how we want our customers to feel in the space and how we want our brand to be reflected. To do this, we pulled core themes related to our brand (approachability, longevity, quality) and shared relevant inspiration with our architect to set the tone for the store.

We also thought through our displays and the flow of the space from a shopability perspective. Some important considerations being: is our display flexible as our product assortment grows or changes, does it encourage our customers to interact with the product, are we telling a cohesive story–the list goes on. It truly is a balancing act of creating a beautiful store that is also shoppable for the customer and functional for our retail teams.

Inspiring stores we loved (Coclico & Mansur Gavriel)

You mentioned some core brand themes. Can you elaborate a bit on how the brand impacts your process?

Similar to our products, the Poppy Barley store experience falls into what we call the Luxury Gap. The middle ground between a high end, luxury brand experience and a mainstream, mass market experience. For us, this means creating a beautiful store environment that feels special, while maintaining an inclusive and welcoming customer experience where everyone feels comfortable picking up and trying on our products.

From a more visual standpoint, we layered on some brand elements like materials and storytelling. This is where the design really starts to come to life! We worked on a materials board that incorporated our brand palette and thought through the visual merchandising elements that help tell the story of Poppy Barley. All of these details work together to create a unique store experience.

How do you balance design trends with longevity and the Poppy Barley brand story?

We apply a design filter to our stores in the same way we do for our products. Our goal is to create a beautifully designed store that feels relevant for years to come.

Materials board for the West 4th store

We reference design trends in our work but don’t lead with them in an effort to stay true to our brand. Staying within our colour palette and balancing trends with an abundance of natural materials all helps to create longevity in our space.

As a brand, Poppy Barley has evolved a lot since our last store opening (2019). How is this store design different from previous stores?

This is our first street front store, which is a very exciting evolution for our retail experience. We’re looking forward to an abundance of natural light and the ability to have live plants!

The look and feel of our brand has also evolved since our last store opening and this is reflected in our YVR store design. We’re leaning into more natural materials like stone and wood, while also keeping the design fresh and light. Our core brand colours still play a part in this space but we’re using colour selectively and mixing textures into the palette to create depth.

We think our customers are going to love this new store design, and we can’t wait to welcome them through the doors in May 2023.


Poppy Barley West 4th



Poppy Barley West 4th


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The Harley Heeled Sandal Ankle Size Guide

How To Measure:
The Harley Heeled Sandal: Take a tape measure and wrap it around your foot, right below your ankle bone as that is where the strap will sit (see product imagery and fit video for a visual demonstration). This measurement is based on the last adjustment point on the strap.

Size Strap length will accommodate an ankle measurement up to the size below
5 26 cm
5.5 26.5 cm
6 27 cm
6.5 27 cm
7 27.5 cm
7.5 27.5 cm
8 28 cm
8.5 28 cm
9 28 cm
9.5 28.5 cm
10 28.5 cm
10.5 29 cm
11 29 cm
11.5 30 cm
12 30 cm

The Esther Heeled Sandal Ankle Size Guide

How to Measure:
The Esther Heeled Sandal: take a tape measure and wrap it around your ankle, above the ankle bone, as that is where the strap will sit (see product imagery and fit video for a visual demonstration). This measurement is based on the last adjustment point on the strap.

Size Strap length will accommodate an ankle measurement up to the size below
5 23 cm
5.5 23 cm
6 23 cm
6.5 23 cm
7 24 cm
7.5 24 cm
8 24.5 cm
8.5 24.5 cm
9 24.5 cm
9.5 25 cm
10 25 cm
10.5 25.5 cm
11 26 cm
11.5 26 cm
12 26 cm

Belt Sizes

Natural Waist Measurement Typical Jean Size Belt Size for High‑rise Pant Belt Size for Mid‑rise Pant Infinite Belt Size
23-25" 23/24 26" 28" 1
25-26" 25 28" 30" 1
26-27" 26 30" 32" 1
27-28" 27 30" 32" 1
28-29" 28 32" 34" 2
29-30" 29 32" 34" 2
30-31" 30 34" 36" 2
31-32" 31 34" 36" 2
32-33" 32 36" 38" 3
33-34" 33 36" 38" 3
34-35" 34 38” 40" 3
36-37" 36 38" 40" 3
38-39" 38 40" 42" 4
40-41" 40 40" 42" 4
42-43" 42 44" 46" 4
43-44" 43 44" 46" 5
44-45" 44 46" - 5

Sizing Note: For the most accurate fit, measure around your body where you plan to wear the belt. Choose the closest belt size to that measurement.

Belt Diagram Accent Belt and Complement BeltThe Accent Belt, The Polished Belt and The Complement Belt size measurements start from the beginning of the leather to the middle hole.

Belt Diagram Infinite BeltThe Infinite Belt size measurements cover the entire length of the leather.

Belt Measuring Guide

Belt Measuring Guide

A - High-rise style:

If you plan to wear your belt around your natural waistline, wrap a measuring tape around the narrowest part of your midsection. Then, add 3” to determine your high-rise belt size.

B - Mid-rise style:

If you plan to wear your belt lower than your natural waistline, you will require a dierent size. If you have a particular pair of bottoms you intend to wear your belt with, wrap a measuring tape through the belt loops while in a relaxed position.

When wearing your belt in your preferred style, it should fasten in the middle hole. The belt will relax with wear allowing you to cinch it tighter, as needed.

If you plan to wear the belt in both the high and mid-rise styles, you have two options:

  1. Select your high-rise style and fasten it more loosely when worn in the mid-rise style.
  2. Select your mid-rise style and fasten it more tightly when worn in the high-rise style.