With over 100 retailers and a successful online store, Mia Melon’s fashion forward, high performance outerwear is showing no signs of slowing down. Where to go from there? The evolution and fast growth of the company meant that the next logical step in the journey would be a Mia Melon store. And so, after a whirlwind of activity and truckloads of work and expenses, owners/founders Todd and Tanya Listwin opened the doors to Mia Melon’s flagship store in August.
Situated in Vancouver’s historic Gastown, the cozy shop offers customers a chance to connect directly with the brand and its wares. With rain season in full effect, it's the perfect time to pop into the Mia Melon store and see the wide array of durable, versatile, and stylish outerwear for yourself. Mia Melon blogger Stephanie Deline caught up with Todd at the store to get the lowdown on this exciting time.
Q: What inspired you to open a physical store?
A: A storefront opens up the availability of physical try-ons for local customers who want to see and feel the product themselves. It's also handy because as the flagship store - rather than a multi-brand store that simply carries the product- the Mia Melon store focuses solely on the brand. We also offer a wider range of styles than many MM retailers have in stock. We think the store is also great for branding, since it’s a wonderful way to let customers get to know more about Mia Melon.
Q: Why Gastown?
A: It's a killer location in the heart of the city, and being right on Cordova, we get the commuters coming into downtown at the beginning of the day and leaving downtown at the end of the day, so it's a prime spot for traffic. It's also a very tourist-friendly area, which gives us the chance to expose the brand to people from out of town. We opened our doors in August, in the middle of an intense heatwave and the peak of forest fire season. For an outerwear brand, that was a challenging time to open a store, but we found that at that time, there were a lot of tourists who were looking for something to bring back home from Vancouver. We ended up being that "something" for many of them, and that's where a good chunk of the store’s first sales came from. We’ve already learned a lot from this experience, and love the community and diversity of Gastown.
Q: What's your main vision for the store?
A: Well, what we want to accomplish with the storefront is to showcase our product in a way we haven't done before, and we want to maximize customer experience while exposing the brand to more and more people. It's a new platform to spread the word about our functional and fashionable outerwear, as well as educating people about our specialty fabrics and technology.
We want to keep Vancouverites warm and dry and let them know they can look great while doing it. Our outerwear performs at the same level as the big names high-end rainwear, but it offers a stylish urban look, and that's what sets us apart. The store is an extension of what we've been doing online and in other stores for several years. It's a new and exciting way to engage with our target market and the city as a whole. Having a retail space gives us a different kind of opportunity to tell our story.
Q: How does the store incorporate your famous Travel Club?
A: The store allows us to inspire people with respect to our travel club, showing them that our jackets are perfect for traveling in a wide variety of climates. We have photos with testimonials all over the wall at the front of the store, featuring happy customers from Yosemite to England, Portland to Iceland and beyond. These are stories that people see instantly when they enter the store, and they embody the message that we want to get across. When you walk into a store and you've got photos of real people, real customers wearing the product, with written testimonials, that’s pretty powerful, and we think it's a great testament to Mia Melon’s versatility and customer service.
Q: How is the store doing so far?
A: Well, the first month was a struggle, I mean, we were selling outerwear in thirty degree weather. But sales instantly improved once the autumn weather kicked in. There's a great mix of people coming in. Many of them already know the Mia Melon name and brand, and there are also lots of customers who are new to the brand, whose eye we caught while they were walking or driving down Cordova. I always try to strike up conversation with people who enter the store, to find out how they heard about us. I'd say about one in ten people who come to the store have heard of us. Some are even on their second or third Mia Melon jacket!
Q: What are your favourite things about having an official Mia Melon store?
A: I think Gastown is great, because we get a mix of tourism and the young, hip crowd who enjoy our look. I think it's also been great for us because we get to see firsthand how the jackets fit, and we can receive instant customer feedback. It's interesting to see for ourselves which styles are doing the best in terms of sales. Seeing the store in action with people engaging in it means we are able to fine tune our product and make tweaks based on what we see. Overall, the store lets us connect one on one with our customers and gives us an idea of what people want and what they're looking for. I would say that around one in three people who walk into the store end up making a purchase. We've obviously been running our own thriving online shop for a while now, and we have over 100 retailers, but opening up our own shop is momentous. Once you open your own store with your own products, your logo on the door- it feels very legitimate. “A brand is born”, so to speak.
Q: What do you most want people to know about Mia Melon?
A: We want people to know that our outerwear offers excellent performance and a fashion-forward look at an affordable price. And we want people to know that we believe in what we do.
Are you ready for the impending wet winter? Gear up with Mia Melon! Visit the brand new store at 67 E Cordova street, Vancouver (Monday-Friday 11-7, Sat- 11-6, Sun 12-5) or visit miamelon.com anytime!
Photo credits: Stephanie Deline