The new location is the fourth Toronto store and the first Canadian location for Arc’teryx to offer retail sales alongside complimentary on-site product assessment, care, education and simple on-site repairs.
“Arc’teryx’s ReBIRD™ circular initiatives encourages our guests to look after their gear, thereby extending the life of the product and keeping it out of the landfill. Our first ReBIRD™ Service Center in our New York City, Broadway, location has been an incredible learning for us in our journey,” said Dominique Showers, VP ReBIRD™, Arc’teryx.
“Since opening last Fall 2021, our New York City service team has been able to resolve nearly three quarters of functionally compromised gear, on site, reducing the impact on turnaround time for our guests. That’s our goal – to deliver clear education for technical product care, full assessments, and light touch repairs that keep gear in the field longer.”
The 17th Canadian Arc’teryx location takes over for premium streetwear retailer PLUS, which moved into a permanent location on the 2nd floor of the downtown Toronto shopping centre into a recently shuttered Johnston & Murphy. Prior to PLUS, the space was previously home to Ann Taylor.
The ReBIRD footprint in the CF Toronto Eaton Centre Arc’teryx location is around 110 square feet, which encompasses multiple services and tools for staff to create an enhanced guest experience. These services include:
- Product assessment: in-store after-sales assessment, including GORE-TEX leak testing.
- In-store care & education: hands-on education about product care.
- In-store repair: zipper repair services including slider, pull cord, pull-and bottom box replacement; cord ends, cord locks, and buckle replacement; as well as adhesive patches and heat pressed internal patches.
- Expert repair: colour choices are offered for GORE-TEX fabric replacement or full zipper replacement for repairs offsite.
Arc’teryx stores are designed to be a mix of retail and in-store community events.
“Whether it’s providing the best gear and expert advice from our product guides at our stores, offering the opportunity to learn new skills through community events, or supporting local leaders to share their knowledge and passion for the outdoors, our store locations exist to support the community,” said Stephanie Jamieson, Director, North America Community, Arc’teryx.
“Community is the key for success in retail, and the Toronto Arc’teryx community in Toronto has grown from 11 clinics and community events in 2019 to 25 planned for 2022. We have seen over 500 participants from the start of 2022 taking part in community events in climbing, trail running, hiking and design, and that number is growing every week.”
Additional Ontario retail openings for Arc’teryx are planned for later this year in the Square One Shopping Centre and Vaughan Mills Premier Outlet Mall.
Arc’teryx products are distributed in more than 2,400 retail locations globally, including over 160 branded stores.
Retail Insider had the opportunity to walk through the CF Toronto Eaton Centre location with Dominique Showers, VP ReBIRD™, Arc’teryx.
“The services that are offered here are very similar to what we’ve offered in previous locations, where we’ve had toolkits in the back of every store, so the repairs are similar. The difference is that you have access to better tools, better raw materials. You also are able to get end to end assessment, which not every store has the capacity to do,” she said in an interview.
“Putting the service centre right out there on the sales floor is a big win. It’s the full circle of the lifecycle of the product. From the build to resolve – we’re trying to showcase that the purchasing model is a circular model. We’re really leaning with the education, care of apparel as the forefront of our ReBIRD narrative,” she went on to say.
“The ReBIRD concept will be rolled out to future stores. We still are figuring out exactly which stores and future new stores will have it or retrofitted with modifications. This is a learning journey for us. In the US, we are opening a store in Boulder, Colorado towards early September that will have a full-fledged service centre, around 500 square feet. It will have onsite industrial tech washers and dryers, with a full DWR spray booth, as well as full end to end assessment.
“Overall, we’re thinking that Toronto is a similar landscape to our Broadway store location. We’ll learn things here that will be lessons from NYC and those will be slightly different than what we’ll learn in Boulder, we envision, just based on usage type and environment.”
Showers said that most Arc’teryx products are able to be serviced at the ReBIRD Service Centre, with the staff trained to detect authentic products. The brand has seen fraudulent returns and warranty claims, which is not unlike many other brands in the market.
“We are not looking for receipts. We are looking at the label to know what the garment is and then we go through a full in-and-out assessment. If it needs to be sent out for repairs, then we go through the full process so you can pick your raw materials.”
“We have a leak-test machine on site, so we can test the waterproofing of your jackets. This is such a game-changer. The oil contamination from your skin can eventually cause the durability of the shell to break down. So it’s important to wash your Goretex with special care instructions, and to reapply DWR before putting it in the dryer. With the leak tester we can test to see if there are problem spots on site,” she went on to say.
“The goal is to decrease our carbon footprint. How do we reduce the impact on the environment and minimize the shipment of your garment. In addition to the waste of time, it’s also not a good experience. So here we have GORE-TEX patches, Tenacious tape, zipper sliders, etc for simple repairs or you can simply change the colours. And these services will extend and become more broad as we learn and evolve.”
The ReBird services are uniquely positioned in the marketplace, as the brand has taken a position on the cost of repairing their own product.
“It’s a completely free service. We offer on-site education for care and repair as well as quick fix resolutions, with the hopes that we don’t see it in future warranty boxes later in life, or worse yet, in landfills. The goal is to shift the mindset away from that of a ‘consumer’ to that of a ‘custodian’ of quality gear.”
“We feel that we have the highest quality of standard in the industry and we see it as an investment for the long term. With that, in-store we offer free services for items that are under our Practical Product Lifespan. If the concern is not under warranty, we do have access to a paid repair service, which is at a reasonable price. In future we look to expand those services as well. So having ReBIRD Service Centres is one accessible opportunity for our Guests, while we continually to scale our more complex repair resolution capacity.”
On-site events and education discussions are part of the experience in-store, which was evident during the grand opening and on subsequent non-event visits.
“We’re doing community activations here, including circular events as it’s a great place to engage the community on repair and care, and also thinking about things like upcycling – what are you able to do with the product once it can’t be used for its original use anymore. We can do that all here in this space. We can adapt and change the store with added tables and sewing machines…it just engages the community to come up with ideas and solutions,” she said.
With all of this discussion on sustainability, the question was asked about how ReBIRD was created.
“You know what’s interesting with how ReBIRD came together was that it wasn’t a strategic, sitting in a boardroom having a conversation. It was literally that all our people in the organization are highly passionate, they are all outdoorsy and everyone sees how our gear gets used. We go through the boxes and we have all of our after-sales team at our head office. All our designers are working on-site, so across the organization – we were seeing product that needed repurposing and they were like ‘what do we do with it?’ People were coming up with their own solutions.
- We could start a friends and family sale.
- We could start a resale platform – and just do it as a beta test.
- Everything was beta test.”
“And then it was a test and fail, test and fail, test and fail. We’re problem solvers, so we like to continuously come up with ideas that could be solved. And so ReBIRD was born out of the fact that people within our company are so passionate inside of this work that they created these programs and initiatives.”
“Care and Repair has always been inside of our organization since we started. We’ve always had an after-sales team. We’ve always had people doing assessments. We’ve had a repair team in arc one. We’re expanding repair services in the US. It’s always been something that we offer and now to show everyone what we’ve always been doing and make it part of our narrative. So ReBird was essentially born out of that and call it what it is and then intentionally create teams that are agile and integrate it into the business so that it’s not a separate department – it’s actually a place where every department, from design on, has to think about how we are approaching a more sustainable way of working.”
“For us, that means looking at all of it. Our upstream design. Our packaging. Our fixtures. Everything. We’re not a full maturity yet, but it’s a starting point for us and we have a lot of beta learnings from the last 4-10 years to inspire us.”
“I would say that when we first started working on all of our sustainability initiatives, we were really not at a state of maturity. It’s not easy to wake up and say that you’re sustainable. So we’ve spent a lot of time looking at our materials, preferred fibres. We don’t use fleece as an example for a reason. We have responsible wool and down standards. And everything is accredited”
“From there, we started seeing warranty cases come through and product that we couldn’t fix. We often couldn’t fix because it was either… a combination of things… it was either the case was too challenging for the length of time that the guest wanted the garment back. The example being that the guest was going snowboarding on Saturday and it’s Thursday and the jacket needs a full re-panel. Or we couldn’t have a resolution at the time.”
“Over the last four years, learning from our resale model, we’ve been able to expand our capabilities. With wear and tear, that’s natural, and we have service that you can pay for and we’ve got partners that we work with for that – but quick fixes and simple processes can be done easily on site.”
As the concept becomes readily available for a wide release across new and existing stores, the brand says that it is ready to evolve its offerings and in-store experiences to focus on the lifespan of the products they produce.
“You have to commit full circle. This is a journey that we’re on and we’re by no means perfect in it. And we’re really committed to resolving inside of our core pillars and we do recognize that we are that we’re making products that is lifesaving in extreme conditions, so there’s a sense of durability and longevity is really what we stand for and this is where we feel we need to anchor ourselves. The care and repair, education, being at the forefront of that and everything else comes after.”
“Our other Canadian location that we’re going to be opening a full service ReBIRD service centre is in our new flagship location on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver. That’ll be amazing and we’ll learn a ton from that opening.”