Canmore-Based ‘Bolder Menswear’ Looks to Multi-Store Expansion in Calgary Following Strong Sales Growth [Interview]

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After expanding to the Calgary market, Canmore-based Bolder Menswear is looking to continue to grow its retail footprint in the major metropolitan centre in Alberta.

Owner David Stratton, who also owns Stratton’s Jewellery in Canmore, said Calgary could eventually have three to five stores throughout the city following its introduction to the market about a year ago.

The first Bolder Menswear store opened in around 2005 and Stratton took over the brand in January 2020. The Canmore store is located on Main Street. For about seven years, it shared space with the jewellery store. In July 2021, Bolder moved to its own location about half a block down the street.

“Sales doubled and tripled every day from that point forward. The day we moved it down was July 1 (2021). We were walking down the street with clothing on clothing racks and opening a new store. Store sales doubled that day. Even with that setup of moving stuff that day.

“Since that point, the worst month we’ve had was better than the best month that they had in the previous 10 years.”

Bolder Menswear

A store opened in the Calgary neighbourhood of Aspen Landing in February 2022 and it has grown to the point where it could outsell the Canmore store, which is “pretty impressive,” said Stratton.

“We don’t sell suits. We call it smart casual. So if you’ve got a really nice shirt and you don’t want to wear a tie with it, we’ve got that shirt for you. We do a lot of bright colours, very nice-fitting shirts, sort of in the mid to high range, starting at about $150 for a nice long-sleeve knit shirt to up to right now about $600 for a limited edition Robert Graham shirt, ” said Stratton.

“We find that guys once they get into a better quality shirt they get into pants as well – we do a nice line of pants called 34 Heritage – and we also have some very nice sports jackets if a guy needs to dress up.

“It’s a different feeling when you come in. Part of the thing is when you come into our store the shirts are all out. Everything’s on the counter. It’s hung up. It’s all steamed. It’s all ready to be tried on. We carry a full range of sizes right from small through XXXL. And in some of our brands we do special orders right up to six and seven XL.”

Bolder Menswear (Image: RMV Creative)

The Canmore store is about 1,700 square feet with the Aspen Landing one at about 1,900 square feet.

“What we discovered after having the store in Calgary is the market it serves tends to be within a certain area that’s going to come and you’re really not going to reach much beyond that,” said Stratton. “When I go to a brand I call it the difference between a commitment and an interest. Somebody may have an interest in a brand so they can put the brand name up there. I would probably carry the entire line.

“What we’re looking for now is a complementary location but we don’t want it so close to the existing location that it’s going to cannibalize sales from the original location but it’s going to be close enough that any kind of physical advertising that we do will benefit both stores.”

Fairfield Commercial Real Estate Inc. has been retained as the exclusive leasing representative for Bolder Menswear in the Calgary market.

His other business Stratton’s Jewellery in Canmore is just over 2,000 square feet.

“We carry products from different designers that you will not see anywhere else,” said Stratton. “We have three or four designers in the store that only deal with us. We’re their only retail outlet and if they decide that they want to go further and start expanding their lines we help them do that. We can help them on how to set their wholesale prices, how to approach other jewellers, how to do all these things. We want everybody to be successful, to be successful as we are.

“We are the agents for Birks in the Bow Valley. We have the largest Birks shop-in-shop in Canada right now out here in Canmore.”

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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