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WANT Apothecary Shuts All Physical Stores Amid Pandemic

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The physical retail spaces for Montreal-based WANT Apothecary have shut down as the brand pivots to an ecommerce business while refocusing on its core brand. The tasteful, highly-curated retail concept launched 10 years ago and at one time had five stores in major cities in Canada and the United States.

WANT Apothecary was the brainchild of WANT Les Essentiels Co-Founders and brothers, Byron and Dexter Peart, along with business partners, Mark Wiltzer and Jacqueline Gelber. The brothers sold the business to Wiltzer and Gelber (who own Mark Edwards Apparel Inc.) in 2017, including the upscale WANT Les Essentials brand that they founded in 2007, and exited the company.

The WANT Apothecary concept was unique in how it mirrored the style of a classic apothecary while also mixing a selection of fashion items from some of the world’s leading designers. Products included 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 business partners, launched the first WANT Apothecary location in Montreal in 2011, in the city’s affluent Westmount area. The beautiful store located at 4960 Sherbrooke Street West was buoyed by the existing brand recognition of the WANT Les Essentiels lifestyle brand that had 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 at 1070 Yonge Street in 2013, followed by a Vancouver store located in the South Granville shopping area at 2956 Granville Street which debuted in 2014. In 2017, WANT Apothecary opened a Toronto location at 2579 Yonge Street as well as a store in New York City at The NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway.

Co-founder, Dexter Peart, told Retail Insider in an interview in 2017 that rather than locating in malls or on popular retail streets such as Bloor Street West or Robson Street, WANT Apothecary’s locations sought to create a “curated experience within close proximity to the consumer” that was the “antithesis to a large shopping experience”. Collections in the stores were highly curated to reflect the retailer’s aesthetic, and each store was typically between 1,700 and 2,000 square feet to ensure a more intimate experience.

The WANT brand has moved to an ecommerce model after shutting its physical stores. And as the multi-brand apothecary concept shuts stores, the WANT Les Essentials brand is being moved to the forefront.

“We are excited to announce that we will be focusing all efforts on our house brand, beginning with a new website launching in April and ready-to-wear collections releasing throughout the year,” stated the company. “As we pursue this vision, we’ve decided to close our WANT Apothecary locations and consolidate both WANT websites to wantlesessentiels.com. This new experience will be the digital home for WANT Les Essentiels and stock several of the skincare, beauty, and home brands you know and love.”

We reported this spring that Australian beauty brand Aesop had opened a new store in the former WANT Apothecary location at 2579 Yonge Street in Toronto.

Retailers have been struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are finding that the expense of having leases is too great and some have been closing locations as a result. At the same time, studies have shown that having a physical retail presence helps drive online web traffic, bringing WANT’s ecommerce-only strategy into question in terms of future growth for the brand.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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