Less that a decade after opening The Modern Shop on Sussex Drive, with its sophisticated mix of top-name European and North American furniture and lighting designs, Michael Shaikin has jumped at the opportunity to open a second store just steps away. The Modern Shop Gifts & Accessories (17A York St.) will be filled to bursting with the curated knick-knacks that had, until recently, taken over his flagship store.
Opening night is Friday, April 28 — the party runs 6-9 p.m. and Shaikin is glamming things up with bites by Luxe, negroni cocktails by Top Shelf, and Nickel Brook brews.
Design-savvy shoppers will be doubly excited to learn that The Modern Shop Gifts & Accessories is the only Canadian location for an exclusive boutique known as Normann Copenhagen Daily Fiction. The Scandinavian design company’s Daily Fiction collection includes more than 200 “small designs” meant to be used and displayed at home or in a chic office.
As the last shelves go up ahead of opening, Shaikin says he’s confident that Daily Fiction, described by the company as “a candy shop for grownups,” will be a hit in Ottawa. Ottawa Magazine caught up with the shopkeeper for a quick interview and tour a few days ahead of the big launch.
Why open a second store?
The original store was just furniture and lights, but then a lot of the brands started selling accessories, which they didn’t do when I started out. Eventually, the accessories sort of took over the store and people began to forget that I sell furniture and lighting.
Local people would come in and not realize that a beautiful table was for sale because it was covered in stuff. So I needed to make a partition — to separate the two. All the accessories will go to The Modern Shop Gifts & Accessories and now when you go to The Modern Shop, it will be mostly furniture and lighting again with just a few accessories here and there.
Why have two places on the ByWard Market?
I wanted the two stores to be close to one another. If people come to The Modern Shop looking for accessories, we can just send them a block away. And I can walk in between them! So right now, it’s very convenient. In the long-term future, I may move The Modern Shop into a bigger, warehouse-y kind of space with a huge showroom, but that’s way down the road.
Tell me about the Normann Copenhagen Daily Fiction boutique. I hear that it will be part of your new store — and that it’s a big deal.
It’s pretty exciting. Normann Copenhagen has designed this curated collection of pieces — things for your home and office — and is only selling them in a very limited number of boutiques around the world. We’re definitely the first location in Canada, maybe even in North America.
How did get that gig?
They kept asking me, but I didn’t have the room in the old store. So when I decided to open a second store devoted to accessories, I jumped on the opportunity. I just got everything in last week so it’s been great to start unpacking it, seeing it, and putting it out.
How would you describe it?
It’s a collection of home-office and stationery products. It’s not expensive, so you can spend $50 and get some really cool stuff for your office.
But it’s not taking over the whole store?
No, it’s just one wall of it. Normann Copenhagen actually sends you the shelving so every store will have the same look. So I have three shelves, which is one dedicated wall of the store. But the rest of the store will have a range of accessories.
Side question. Tell me about your new branding. The Modern Shop has been associated with a snappy orange for years, but now you’ve switched to a cool grey-blue.
I chose the orange when I started in 2009-2010 and I was just getting tired of it. We’re called The Modern Shop and I think orange is just starting to get dated. I wanted a blue, and this one fits. I painted the window frames, changing them from orange to the new blue, a few days ago and lots of people have been in touch to say how much they like it. It’s a little more clean.
How are you splitting your time?
I’ll probably be at the new store a lot at the beginning, then we’ll see once things settle into a routine.
You were telling me earlier that you’ll have shopping baskets at The Modern Shop Gifts & Accessories. What’s that about?
It’s a very European thing. You grab your little shopping basket as you enter the store and then you wander around and fill it up. It’s nice.
What are you most excited about?
Showing off the new store and especially the Normann Copenhagen Daily Fiction space. I think Ottawa will embrace it.