Toronto-based Menswear suit and casual fashion retailer Tip Top has opened two new stores in Ontario, and is looking to open storefronts in Quebec – a province the brand has not been in for more than twenty years.
The two new locations opened in September; the first stores Tip Top has opened since the start of the pandemic. The first location is at CF Markville in Markham and is 2,300 square feet, and the other is in Vaughan Mills and is around 2,800 square feet.
“We have a lot going on right now. We came out of the pandemic and the opportunity was there to start looking at new stores, but in smaller footprints,” says Lance Itkoff, the President and CEO of Grafton Apparel, which owns Tip Top. “During Covid, we completely changed the merchandising within the stores towards total event solutions – we wanted to be the go-to for a special day, such as weddings, and the go to destination for events.”
Itkoff said Tip Top has decided to open stores with slightly smaller footprints, making it easier to expand. Instead of opening 3,500 square foot stores, customers can now expect stores to be around 2,200 square feet which is the new Tip Top’s target store size.
“We are finding we are more efficient and can create a better experience for customers in the smaller box than we had in the larger box, so we are happy with the two new stores, and they have been doing great. The business is just way ahead of our expectations, and it has been a crazy ride.”
Event Solution Focused – A Perfect Suit for Your Moment
“About two years ago we set on this path – to put our focus on event solutions. If you came to the store right now, you would see our event shop. It is all about these perfect moments, perfectly dressed where we are featuring all our suit options in all different shirt and tie colours. Nobody else in the market is doing this. There are plenty of other people that have wonderful and nice suits – but nobody has the focus on total event solutions.”
Tip Top has also expanded its colour assortments in suits, square pockets, and ties – all to correspond with dresses and seasonal colours.
“We probably went from half a dozen colours of ties, to nearly thirty and they are all tied back to dress colours or the popular colours of the season. We currently have a dozen colours for shirts, and that is being expanded to twenty colours. Our customers are telling us that the more we give them, the more they are responding – so, we are just continuing to expand like crazy.”
Customers can also expect to see more collections in store as Tip Top is continuously adding new ones. This past fall, it had its biggest collection to date and Itkoff is looking to double it for next year and will hopefully be even larger by 2023.
Record Breaking Sales
In 2022, Tip Top hit its record-breaking sales, and it was not unexpected as people were adding more events to their calendars.
“We have had the wonderful tailwinds of the post Covid recovery with everyone putting events back on the calendar. I think there was a figure from North America that said in 2022 there was going to be 2.5 million weddings compared to 2.1 in 2019, so we already knew there was going to be somewhere around twenty percent more events on top of that coming out of this pandemic, and on top of that there were graduations and proms. We had a great fortune being able to in a marketplace where the need has bounced back strongly.”
Itkoff said as other suit retailers were not changing their merchandise to meet customers needs after the pandemic, his team knew they had to change as they “had anticipated the changing needs and wants of the consumer and made the necessary changes to mirror that.”
Expanding to Quebec After Twenty Years
Tip Top’s future consists of expanding its OMNI capabilities and to expand more across Canada including Quebec.
Currently, Itkoff said Tip Top has around a dozen locations the team is working on and will share these locations once they have been finalized.
“We are in a wonderful position where the business that we have driven gives us the fire power to take advantage of whatever opportunities there are, so if there are one or six stores that become available – we are in a position to take action.”
In terms of opening in Quebec, Tip Top is actively looking for the right store locations in the malls right now. Tip Top used to have two locations in Quebec, but it hasn’t been seen there for more than twenty years and customers from there can only shop online. Itkoff said he would love to open as soon as in the middle of next year, but it all depends on if the right location comes around.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to expand into Quebec, because it is a huge opportunity for us. I can easily see us getting to 20 stores in Quebec over the next three to five years.”
“Our team anticipated the changes that were coming post Covid in May of 2020 and we totally changed our merchandise, and we have more fall products on our shelves at this time than we had at the same time in 2019. It is all because our team made the changes that were necessary to win, and I don’t think anyone else in the industry has done what our team has done.”