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When the sun goes down, Collingwood’s downtown comes alive

For this week’s What’s Up Wednesday we spoke with Carolina D’Andrea, owner of One Love Eco Boutique on Hurontario Street
2019-07-18 OneLove JO-001
Carolina D'Andrea is the owner of One Love Eco Boutique. Jessica Owen/CollingwoodToday

Carolina D'Andrea, owner of One Love Eco Boutique is not only busy with her own business, she's overseeing events and activities as chairperson of the Collingwood’s downtown BIA. One of her latest ideas – Come Alive at 5 – is shaking up the way downtown shops do business.

“I think Collingwood has been progressing amazingly well since I started my business, but maybe there weren’t enough creative events. It wasn’t as exciting as it could be,” she said.

D’Andrea moved to Collingwood about eight years ago, and started her first business not long after.

Her first store – called Store 54 that specialized in hand crafts and fair trade, but later changed their name to Hearts and Crafts – was started through TRACKS Employment Services.

“It was a great opportunity for someone like me who had never been in business before,” she said. “A number of people who are now established entrepreneurs in the area started through that.”

When D’Andrea started evolving her business more toward eco-friendly clothing, she said she found her niche.

“There’s not a lot of ethical options or fair trade certification in clothing. When we realized the clothing was really the main thing for a retail space, the name no longer worked,” said D’Andrea. “We also had a lot of people thinking we were a craft supply store. It was confusing.”

D’Andrea decided then to change the name of the store to One Love in 2015.

“It’s global, local and eco. We have global fair trade and imports. We have locally produced items or Canadian made lines, and we try to do as many eco-friendly clothes as possible,” she said. “I wanted to make sure this store was accessible to anyone on any budget.”

D’Andrea is active in the Collingwood’s downtown BIA, serving as chair of events and activities, communications and member services.

“It’s like the next level of community involvement for me,” she said. “As a person in this community, I was a little bit frustrated with certain aspects. I felt there wasn’t enough for a younger demographic. I felt there wasn’t enough engagement of different populations happening.

“When I got on the BIA, I wanted to make it more inclusive and engaging. I also wanted to bring more to the retail sector,” she said.

D’Andrea brought forward the idea for the Come Alive at 5 event, which sees many downtown businesses staying open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays in July and August.

“Sue Nicholson (general manager of the BIA) and I worked on it together. I’ve always been trying to create more opportunities to stay open later. When I was younger, I lived in Ireland and over there, it was just a thing that shops were open late on Thursday,” she said.

As people in Ireland were paid on Thursdays, D’Andrea said residents would take their paychecks and go downtown to shop, explore and dine.

“It was very successful, but it was part of the culture,” she said.

D’Andrea said after coming to Collingwood, she found it frustrating when most businesses downtown locked their doors at 5 p.m.

“When I worked in restaurants, people would ask me why everything was closed after 5... it was a ghost town,” she said.

Peterborough and Kingston’s downtown business associations already work under a similar model, said D’Andrea. Both cities have their downtown businesses open until 8 p.m.

“We’re trying to do a light version, only asking businesses to stay open until 7 p.m. in the early days, and we’ll see how it goes,” she said.

D’Andrea hopes the culture in Collingwood will shift through the idea.

“Maybe if this is successful, we, as a community, could look at doing a one-week event. It’s also about building a community and improving the communication between stores and getting everyone to think as a team and collective, and how, as a whole, we can boost each other,” she said.

“By nature, I’m not a competitive person. I’m more of a collaborative person,” she added with a laugh.

When D’Andrea looks toward the future of her store, her goals are developing her online presence, as well as possibly developing her own clothing line, which she’s been working on for the past two years.

“I wasn’t really happy with a lot of the Canadian eco-friendly fashion out there. I found it all fit very tight. It’s not really something a non-size-two, non-yoga body could wear. I didn’t like that,” she said. “Eco and ethical clothing should be available to all body types.”