If the internet is the asteroid that killed off retail dinosaurs like Sears and Blockbuster, it’s stores like London, Ont.’s Trouvelle that might turn out to be the nimble survivors of the retail apocalypse.
Trouvelle sells luxury home-decor and luggage and has been able to evolve and compete with an online shopping experience that promises 24/7 access to an overwhelming inventory of goods.
“I think there will always be a place for small retail stores like ours,” says co-owner Marg McAlister. “Whether you need advice or inspiration, the staff at Trouvelle are available to help.”
The “retail apocalypse” is a term coined by the business press and marks the ongoing struggle of many big-name retailers to maintain brick and mortar space.
In the U.S., 105 million square feet of retail space disappeared in 2017 and another 94 million vanished in June of this year, according to commercial real estate services firm CoStar Group.
While the phrase has a certain shorthand appeal in headlines, many retail analysts have said that blaming the internet for the struggles of some is an oversimplification of a complex problem.
They often cite a combination of factors like over-leveraged balance sheets, changing demographics, shifting consumer tastes and mobile technology for forcing the retail industry to evolve.
While some big-name companies have failed, specialty stores like Trouvelle, are thriving.
“It’s about service and access,” McAlister says. “People can come in, touch and feel. They can take things home and…see if [the item] fits their décor, taste and lifestyle.”
The London entrepreneur adds that while the unlimited choice of online shopping may seem like a good thing, it’s easy for shoppers to be overwhelmed.
Whether it is luggage, gifts or that special piece for the home, having a guiding hand from retailers like Trouvelle can help clients find what they need, McAlister says.
“People want to express their own style and live in a place that’s comfortable which is why you want to find a store that…carefully curates items for you,” she says.
McAlister opened Trouvelle in downtown London in March with co-owner Lisa Ferguson, an Ontario retail veteran who also owns Hangar 9, a successful fashion store.
Together, they have curated a store full of unique, interesting and hard to find treasures.
Trouvelle carries Tumi luggage and various travel accessories as well as a wide-selection of goods for the home, from ceramic artists such as Jonathan Adler and Klein Reid. They also carry the Mélange Collection’s hand-knitted items for babies and beautiful home accessories from the luxury brand Missoni Home.
“We want to bring back that whole shopping experience from yesteryear,” says McAlister. “Do you remember shopping and finding that one amazing item that inspired you and you couldn’t wait to take it home? That is what we are trying to do.”
Visit Trouvelle.ca for more information on their curated brands, inspired luxuries and in-store finds.