Advertisement

Edmonton shoe maker Poppy Barley opens flagship store at Southgate Centre

Click to play video: 'Our YEG at Night: What values does Poppy Barley stand for?' Our YEG at Night: What values does Poppy Barley stand for?
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton shoe store is opening a new store in Southgate Centre. It's a big step forward for Poppy Barley and in tonight's Out YEG at Night, we find out more about what the company stands for – Jul 29, 2017

Editor’s Note: This story was first published on June 23, and was updated August 3 when the store opened. Scroll down to see a gallery of the new store.

Slipping into a set of custom-made shoes is now easier in Edmonton, where sisterly startup Poppy Barley have opened a flagship store at Southgate Centre.

“I think it is both very exciting and very scary,” Justine Barber said, who co-founded the company with her sister Kendall in 2012 with the help of Startup Edmonton.

READ MORE: GameChangers: Ken Bautista passionate about Edmonton entrepreneurs

The company initially offered custom-made women’s boots. It later expanded to flats, ankle boots and leather bags, and in 2015 began making men’s footwear.

Sisters Justine and Kendall Barber work with Caroline and Monica Gault at Edmonton’s Poppy Barley shoe company. Global News

The company is going in the opposite direction of some retailers, who are moving away from physical stores in favour of online-only. Barber admits opening a retail outlet wasn’t part of the original plan.

Story continues below advertisement

“When we launched, we really saw ourselves as being e-commerce, but very quickly we realized that people actually wanted to shop in person.”

She said in-person sales started in their small office at Startup Edmonton, where twice a week people would come in for measuring appointments and to buy shoes. Their business flourished and two years ago, Poppy Barley opened a part showroom, part office location on Whyte Avenue.

READ MORE: Family Day at the family business: 2 sets of sisters run Edmonton company

Expanding to Southgate is a big step for the company, which received national exposure earlier this year when Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau wore a pair of Poppy Barley shoes when he tabled the federal government’s budget.

Canada’s federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in the pre-budget ceremony of putting on new shoes at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto, Monday March 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

The 1,000 square foot Southgate store, found in the old Sephora location, includes in-stock women’s sizes, men’s footwear, leather accessories, a made-to-order measurement lounge, as well as information about their manufacturing process.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Edmonton sees surge in Alberta stores setting up in local shopping malls

On one wall is a touchable gallery of leather samples, while another wall outlines the company’s sustainable goals.

“All of our product is made in Mexico and we really have a deep connection and a love with Mexico, so what we wanted to do with the store was really to bring in some Mexican-inspired decor and really make it not just a shoe store which is stuffed full of shoes, but more of an experience.

“So that you’re not just buying shoes, but you’re learning about leather, you’re learning about custom shoe making, your seeing pictures of our artisans who are making the shoes and really providing a bigger connection.”

The Barber sisters admit the fashion industry is environmentally unfriendly, and said their goal is to operate the company as ethically as possible.

The company had 15 employees and added 12 more positions for the Southgate store – nearly doubling their headcount.

“I think a lot of customers are more comfortable buying shoes in person which is why we are opening in Southgate, which is why we do retail pop-ups. Once we have your size on file most customers will repeat online, so that makes it easier.”

Story continues below advertisement

The company looked around Edmonton before choosing the southside mall, located just off Whitemud Drive and 111 Street.

111
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
211
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
311
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
411
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
511
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
611
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
Story continues below advertisement
711
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
811
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
911
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
1011
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
1111
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied

“We chose Southgate Mall for our first Poppy Barley flagship location because we thought it was already our guests’ favourite shopping destination,” Barber said, adding it is convenient for people who live in the south, centrally and the west end. The company also liked the feel and co-tenancy of the mall.

Story continues below advertisement

“At first we thought we’d end up on Whyte Ave or 124th (street), but decided a mall is a better year-round destination in Edmonton.”

The Southgate store opened August 3.

WATCH: Poppy Barley co-founder Kendall Barber and “Style at Home” editor Erin McLaughlin explain why the Edmonton shoe company is bucking the retail trend when it comes to opening its first store.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton shoe maker Poppy Barley opens store at Southgate Centre' Edmonton shoe maker Poppy Barley opens store at Southgate Centre
Edmonton shoe maker Poppy Barley opens store at Southgate Centre – Aug 3, 2017

Sponsored content