Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.
Over the holidays, we noticed the tell-tale paper covering the windows at the Renée Lévesque store on Wellington. The shop, the jeweller’s second location, only opened a few years ago, could it be she was pulling the plug already? Upon further investigation, we learnt that her downtown store had also closed; only her Montreal boutique remained.
We have adored her elaborate accessories for years, enjoyed her careful eye for clothing (she began selling cute, affordable dresses and shoes in 2009), and always appreciated her fun, helpful staff. And we lauded her as one of Ottawa’s best jewellery designers in a fashion feature less than a year ago. We began to fear that another independent retailer had given up on little Ottawa.
We put out our feelers and found out that, far from giving up the ghost, RL has big plans in the works. This spring she will open a larger store in the ByWard Market, one that will include a studio and a larger storeroom. Plus, she’s expanding to offer not only clothing and shoes but also home decor items — and jewellery making classes. “The new boutique will be bigger and better and feature a new shopping experience,” she wrote in an email.
(While Lévesque insists she loves the Wellington strip, she admits it wasn’t a good fit. Her customers are tourists and destination shoppers, people looking to enjoy quality clothing, museums, and art — a day on the town. Wellington is for errands, albeit fashionable ones, but maybe that’s just our opinion.)
The new RL store will sell gift-able things, offer tea and mags, and aim to be a “lifestyle store.” She envisions a space akin to Anthropologie.
The lifestyle store trend is not new (not even to Ottawa). We wrote about Young Jane’s and Shepherd’s taking a similar tack last year. But we did appreciate hearing some solid thinking on this trend.
“There will be a sofa, you can come and chat and make some earrings,” Lévesque said in an interview. “One thing we won’t have is racks and racks of clothing. Online shopping is doing away with this.”
Lévesque would not commit to clothing lines — though she does love COCO & Tashi. She insists that dresses will stay under the $150 mark, and she’s planning on adding local designers to the mix.
“I think that shopping should be a fun experience, you should have a feeling of happiness. And you should always find something new and exciting.”