The changing landscape of retail has led to a local store owner to think outside the box when it comes to drawing a crowd to her business on Hurontario Street.
Heather Favalaro, owner of Homme | Femme in Collingwood’s downtown, brought a unique idea to Collingwood council last week: to partner with local eateries to create a patio in front of her retail store. The request – which was backed by the Downtown Collingwood BIA as a one-year pilot project – was unanimously approved at council on June 24.
“Retail is drastically changing. It’s a lot harder to rely on on bricks-and-mortar (storefronts) alone with online, so it’s really important to try to create an experience,” said Favalaro. “I thought with the addition of a patio it would create a little bit more of that experience for people who want to stick around downtown instead of just popping in.”
Favalaro is collaborating with a few local food businesses on the patio project, including Bent Taco, Gibson & Co., Tremont Cafe and Pom Pom Treat Hut.
“What I hope is, passersby will come in, check out what I have, and either before or after shopping they enjoy the space and take a look around the downtown that they wouldn’t normally see if they were just walking by,” she said.
Visitors will also be encouraged to post about their experiences on social media.
“I hope the experience will create a situation where even more people are drawn in,” said Favalaro. “It’s a destination spot. I want people to be telling other visitors coming into town that they have to stop at this store.”
The Stayner Collegiate Institute grad opened Homme | Femme in July 2018. The store sells men and women’s clothing, accessories, and personal-care items.
“I always wanted to have my own business. I grew up in this area, but moved away for about 20 years to work in fashion wholesale between Toronto and Vancouver,” said Favalaro.
As Favalaro says she was spending every weekend in the Collingwood area anyway, she opted to take the leap.
“I always saw a little bit of a void in this area for the fashion I enjoy. I saw this area growing as well so I decided to come back to my stomping ground with this business on the other side of fashion,” she said. “I had always wanted to come back to this area at some point.”
Favalaro describes the style of clothes in her store as casual contemporary.
“I, personally, really love Scandinavian fashion. I like to bring in a lot of Danish brands as well as brands from Stockholm,” she said.
After council voted in support of her patio this week, Favalaro says she felt grateful.
“I’m just kind of proud of myself for being able to get the support,” she said.
The patio is anticipated to be open by mid-summer. After the summer is over, Favalaro intends to bring the concept fully into the store by creating a lounge in the front.
“I’m hoping it will help grow my online business, and it should help to put Collingwood on the map,” she said.