Montreal-based multi-brand retail concept WANT Apothecary is selectively choosing neighbourhoods for its highly curated, tasteful retail stores. The company recently opened stores in Toronto and New York City, and more are expected to open as its founders seek out appropriate “community” locations.
WANT Apothecary is the brainchild of WANT Les Essentiels co-founders, brothers Byron and Dexter Peart, Mark Wiltzer and Jacqueline Gelber. The concept is unique in how it mirrors the style of a classic apothecary, while also mixing a selection of fashion items from some of the world’s leading designers. Products include women’s and men’s ready-to-wear as well as accessories, leather goods, footwear, and various gift items, not to mention an assortment of beauty products (hence the apothecary name).
The Peart brothers, along with their partners, launched the first WANT Apothecary location in Montreal in 2011, in the city’s affluent Westmount area (4960 Sherbrooke Street West). The store was a hit, buoyed by the existing brand recognition of the WANT Les Essentiels lifestyle brand that they launched five years earlier. After testing and perfecting the Montreal store, the business partners set out to open a second location in Toronto’s upscale Rosedale retail area (1070 Yonge Street) in 2013, followed by a Vancouver store, located in the tony South Granville shopping area (2956 Granville Street) which debuted in 2014.
Most recently, WANT Apothecary has opened two stores — a Toronto location at 2579 Yonge Street, as well as a store in New York City at The NoMad Hotel. The Toronto store is in the Lawrence Park retail area, which continues to see interesting upscale retailers open along the strip.
Co-founder Dexter Peart explained that, rather than locating in malls or on popular retail streets such as Bloor Street West or Robson Street, WANT Apothecary’s locations seek to create a “curated experience within close proximity to the consumer” that is the “antithesis to a large shopping experience”. Collections in the stores are highly curated to reflect the retailer’s aesthetic, and each store is typically between 1,700 and 2,000 square feet to ensure a more intimate experience.
(Photos below are of the Toronto ‘Lawrence Park’ store)
Being “local” has its advantages, including attracting consumers who might otherwise shy away from frequenting busier and more popular retail locations. CF Toronto Eaton Centre, for example, sees about 50 million annual visitors (according to Retail Council of Canada’s Shopping Centre Study) and for some, a quieter shopping experience is specifically sought-out. At the same time, some neighbourhoods are now seeing popular mall brands move in — Toronto’s Lawrence Park, for example, features locations for retailers such as The Gap, Club Monaco, Kiehl’s and Lululemon.
That stretch of Yonge Street lacks the crowds of busier malls and streets, while attracting a shopper seeking out a localized experience. All four of WANT Apothecary’s Canadian locations are adjacent to affluent residential areas — Westmount is home to some of Canada’s wealthiest families, as is Rosedale in Toronto, and Shaughnessy in Vancouver.
Mr. Peart explained that their team continues to examine neighbourhoods throughout Canada for potential new store locations, though he wouldn’t reveal where the next store might open. He explained how Toronto’s Lawrence Park area is “on its way to becoming a dynamic retail area,” with interesting new retailers being added, as well as residential intensification to add further residents. It’s the neighbourhood connection that’s key, he explained, and that he hopes that WANT Apothecary will be able to play an active role in helping shape the community as it matures.