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Upscale Canadian Retailer Lemonwood Opens Storefront with Plans for 10-15 Locations: Interview

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Upscale Canadian retailer Lemonwood continues expanding its footprint in the marketplace with the opening of its sixth upscale boutique in the heart of the Kingsway Village shopping district in Toronto.

Christine Peters

It’s the second Toronto location for the fashion retailer with stores as well in Summerhill, Oakville, Collingwood, Unionville and a seasonal outlet in Port Carling.

The first store opened in 2017 in Oakville.

President and Founder Christine Peters said the business started as a wholesale brand selling to spas, hotels and small gift shops.

“My thought was to have a retail space to check to see what colours were selling ahead of the season. It started off to be something very small and like ‘okay we’ll do wholesale out the back door and retail at the front’. We started on a side street in Oakville,” she said. 

“We quickly realized a side street probably wasn’t where we should be and took the opportunity to pop up on a mainstreet in Oakville just before Christmas. It was November of 2017 and the product was a huge hit with the local community. It was our start and from there we went on.”

Interior of new Lemonwood Luxury boutique in Unionville, Ontario. Photo: Lemonwood Luxury Instagram

Lemonwood is a woman-owned and operated retailer and wholesaler of luxury apparel, accessories, and home décor items. It is one of Canada’s most successful lifestyle boutique chains with a focus on high-quality designer products made from natural fibres, including cashmere, linen, silk, cotton, wool, bamboo, and alpaca. Every Lemonwood product has a story behind it, whether it’s a dress inspired by a vintage pattern book, jewellery designed by Indigenous women or a handknit sweater made by a woman on the other side of the globe. The Lemonwood philosophy is focused on elegance and simplicity — on all levels, says the company.

“It’s affordable luxury. It’s not crazy price but it’s geared and marketed towards individuals that are well-traveled, appreciate the finer things, appreciate fabrics. There’s a story behind each of the brands, a story behind each of the products, socially responsible sourcing a product, sustainability, all of those things that retailers should be speaking to now in today’s environment,” said Peters.

“We work with small factories for our products. We empower women. We champion small companies and a lot of them have grown substantially since we’ve been working with them. It’s the whole philosophy. We situate ourselves in small communities. We embed ourselves in the community. We know our customer really well. Her DNA, how old she is, so our products are all geared towards that individual, very specifically.”

That individual is primarily a well-educated woman. She loves quality. She loves the story behind the brands. She’s older than 40 years old. She has children that are either in high school, university or gone from home. She’s a professional. And she is well-read so she understands where things are made and what’s happening in retail as well. And likes to support small businesses, small boutiques.

Christine Peters at Lemonwood Kingsway (Image: Lemonwood)

“We opened our store in the Kingsway and I am a single mom and I lived on Lemonwood Drive in Etobicoke while my children went to junior high school. Wanted to be very close to where they were going to school and that was at the same time I had started the company and I thought this name is so amazing, it’s so beautiful. And I named the company Lemonwood Luxury Group,” she said.

The new store is located at 2969 Bloor Street West.

“We couldn’t be more excited to join the Kingsway community— I believe that Lemonwood will complement the existing retail landscape,” said Peters. “In a time when customers are seeking ethical and genuine shopping experiences, we look forward to fulfilling this need in such an iconic and thriving neighbourhood.”

Lemonwood, which ships across North America, has plans to expand next to Ottawa and Vancouver. 

“Ottawa would be the next one. I kind of want to be able to drive to those locations to see what’s going on. I’m not familiar with setting up in a long distance kind of retail but Vancouver would be amazing. I think Whistler would be awesome as well,” she said. 

“I would like to do probably 10 to 15 locations. We’re looking at some malls as well. Really our focus is to work on expanding the brand and the brand’s recognition.”

All current stores are street front with the exception of Port Carling where it’s located in a building with other retailers. That store is seasonal, opening up in May for six months.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Jeanne is so seasoned in the fashion cultural space. Love her many ideas about transformation in retail. As we soldier our way out of this pandemic, a key differentiator will be made in Canada. We are going to get there. Thank you for this!

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