Canadian apparel brand DUER has expanded to its third location in Canada, taking up a 2,000-square-foot retail space in Calgary that was formerly occupied by Lululemon.
“Expanding into Calgary has been on our radar for a couple of years,” said company founder Gary Lenett. “Although opening a new retail location in the current climate isn’t a simple task, it hasn’t clouded our enthusiasm.
“Prior to the pandemic, our focus was on growing our retail business and we had a few markets in mind. We’re optimistic that after our Calgary store opens its doors, we’ll resume discussions of plans to expand south of the border.”
The retailer also operates stores in Vancouver and Toronto. The retail stores are currently by appointment only and safety precautions such as masks and sanitizers are on-site due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calgarians Demonstrated a Demand for a Physical DUER Store
“Calgary has been in our radar for quite awhile. We’re not a company with a strategy to have thousands of stores. We don’t intend to put more than one store in any single city and probably our current plans call for 20 stores worldwide,” said Lenett.
“For Calgary, it was really consumer demand. We have per capita more brand fans in Calgary than probably anywhere outside of Vancouver. Our plans are to make a pretty aggressive push into some key U.S. cities. We thought Calgary made the most sense because we already built up this audience there that makes it a bit of a no-brainer.”
The Calgary location is expected to open July 2 for the Canadian performance denim retailer. The location is ideally situated in the city’s entertainment and retail district near the 17th Avenue S.W. strip at 4th Street.
“We are doing business globally through what I call four different channels and our own retail stores being the smallest part of that right now,” said Lenett. “We have about a thousand stores worldwide that sell our product. We call that our wholesale channel. We have of course key drivers in ecomm. And due to COVID we started a fourth channel which we’re calling NEXT which is essentially a pre-sale channel because we lost the two retail channels overnight in March. We introduced the new concept called NEXT which hopefully complements all the other programs.”
Experiential Retail is Imperative to DUER’s Business Model
Design features in the Calgary location will include DUER’s famous indoor playground complete with monkey bars, swings, and soft rubber flooring. The experiential approach originated at the Vancouver flagship store and grew from the desire to have customers experience the stretch, durability, and comfort characteristic of all DUER products.
“We’ve done this from the beginning going back five years. What we found was people would go into the change room and put on pants and they would come out and start doing high kicks and crouching down. It quickly occurred to us that we should build out some sort of playground for people to test out product. And we’ve done that subsequently when we built out our real stores in Vancouver and Toronto – they both have playgrounds in them,” said Lenett.
“So we have swings and monkey bars and bicycles and other things that you can get on. It’s a point of differentiation. Our point of differentiation is it’s supposed to be clothing that you can do everything in. So we give a mechanism to test out that brand promise.”