Vancouver-Based Furniture Retailer ‘Sundays’ Expands into Ontario Market with Toronto Warehouse and Storefront: Interview

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Vancouver-based furniture store Sundays has expanded its reach in Canada with the opening of a warehouse and a store in Toronto and the addition of an executive to oversee its logistics network.

Barbora Samieian

“I think we’ll primarily continue to be ecommerce, however we do see opportunity for two more physical spaces as we consider US expansion going into 2022,” said Barbora Samieian, Co-Founder, Director of Brand and Community for Sundays.

The retailer launched in November 2019. 

“An interesting time to launch a new business,” said Samieian. “The model was just to be a direct to consumer model with everything in stock. That was sort of our motto. We’ll stock a very curated selection of items and in November of 2019 we started with livingroom only – some sofas, coffee tables and a few end tables.

Sundays on Ossington (Image: Sundays)

“Eventually we started expanding our living room collection and then we got into dining and bedroom as well but still a very tight and focused line.

“We started with just ecommerce but during COVID there were all of these empty spaces because restaurants were leaving and other businesses were shutting. So we actually started a little pop-up – a showroom – in Vancouver in about May or June of 2020 and we saw from that kind of experiment – it was like a two to three month lease – there was a lot of interest for customers to be able to touch and feel our furniture. So we’ve since opened a permanent showroom in Vancouver. That opened in the fall of 2021 on West 6th Avenue, South Granville, just off of the main furniture row in Vancouver.”

Samieian said the company opened a Toronto pop-up location in the spring 2021 which has now also turned into a permanent showroom in Toronto. That one is on Ossington Avenue.

“In addition, we started a partnership in November 2021 with a business in Calgary called Socality House. They’re a coffee shop and sort of creative working space on 17th Avenue S.W.,” she said. “What we’ve done there is we’ve partnered with them where we furnished their entire space and any Calgary customers that are interested in seeing our furniture in person can go there to Socality House to check it out.”

Samieian said the retailer’s line is smaller and more focused than some of its competitors in that space. It’s very design-forward.

“We’re very passionate about the product. I would say we’re not a tech that chose to sell furniture but we’re furniture people first,” she said. “The value proposition is that there’s an accessible price point for the quality that we offer.”

The retailer also has a white glove delivery service for all orders, so that customers’ items get unwrapped and assembled on the spot, with packaging removal as well.

“That’s a differentiator for us,” she said. “Since we started the business, we wanted to provide a premium experience to the customer. Furniture shopping overall can be quite a headache for people. It can be a little overwhelming. You go into these big furniture stores and there’s so much choice, you order it, you’ve got to figure out delivery, you get free shipping if it’s over a certain amount but then they drop it at your curbside, and you live in an apartment building and you’re hauling it up the stairs in your building.

“We really saw an opportunity to re-haul that. We built in white glove delivery into our pricing. All of our larger items, anything that needs assembly, is shipped with our delivery partners in each market and it is assembled in the customer’s home and we remove the packaging.

Sundays on Ossington (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“I think people want that kind of service. It also reduces the chance of a customer maybe assembling something wrong, which then might result in a damage claim or potential return. That’s the other benefit. But I think it’s just a much nicer, smoother kind of A to Z experience for our customers.”

Recently, the company opened a warehouse in Toronto to ensure even speedier deliveries of furniture to those in Eastern Canada, with some items even being delivered the same week as they’ve been ordered.

It has also continued to grow their inventory so that there is even more product available.

Sundays on Ossington (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“When we started we thought everything would be in stock, there would be no need to have pre-order items on our website. But we realized pretty quickly that we’d be at zero revenue and we wouldn’t be able to sell anything when the supply chain issues really started unfolding,” said Samieian.

“We made pre-orders available and because we’ve been growing quite significantly being a bit bullish in our projections, knowing that the lead time for furniture is pre-COVID it used to be 100 days from placing an order to receiving items. During COVID that turned to almost 300 days. Just managing those expectations with our customers. It’s normalized a little bit. The supply chain issues have improved and customers grew to expect that. We saw when the supply chain issues started that likely this would take some time and so fairly early on we started ordering some bigger quantities to make up for that. It’s been a challenge absolutely.

“Because of the supply chain issues that we saw in the market, I think one thing that we maybe expedited and did sooner than we otherwise would have as a startup is we actually brought on a Director of Logistics earlier this year.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
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 News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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