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Shinola makes Canadian debut in World’s Coolest Neighbourhood

May 06, 2016

It’s fitting that one of retails coolest brands is making its Canadian debut in what Vogue magazine considers one of the World’s Coolest Neighbourhoods.
We are thrilled to share that Shinola has confirmed the much-anticipated launch of its first store in Canada, slated to open on Toronto’s Queen West in late June.
The 1,800 sq. ft. store is ideally situated at 1000 Queen St. W., at the corner of Ossington Avenue, in the heart of the vibrant Queen West scene.
At Think Retail we are always interested in getting to know trend-sending and exciting brands. Shinola has been on our radar for some time and we are honoured to have partnered with Shinola to successfully develop and implement the company’s strategy for their Canadian market entry.
Last fall, we wrote about the intriguing piece, published in AdWeek, that celebrated the rise of Shinola by delving into its backstory and discussing next steps for this fascinating brand. Check it out here, it’s worth the read: “How Shinola went from shoe polish to the coolest brand in America, Nobody’s confusing shit with Shinola anymore.
We knew this was a company we wanted to work with and, with our expertise in helping high-end retail brands navigate their Canadian market entry, it was the perfect partnership.
Founded in 2011, Detroit-based Shinola designs and manufactures a range of modern, high quality products, including watches, leather goods, bicycles and pet products. Shinola is constantly diversifying into new categories and most recently expanded its offerings to include speakers, turntables and high-quality headphones.
In a few short years, Shinola has solidified its reputation as a brand with an authentic story and positive impact, guaranteed to be a hit with the Queen West crowd.
The company gets its moniker from an old shoe polish brand that inspired the World War II era colloquialism, "You don't know shit from Shinola."
Dallas-based Bedrock Manufacturing acquired the name in 2001 and it was a shrewd move.  They put it to use when turned their attention to creating a watch-manufacturing brand to create jobs domestically and bring obsolete skills back to American shores. They set up shop in Detroit, hiring local artisans and enforcing the city’s reputation as a manufacturing hub.
Shinola quickly evolved into a cultural phenomenon, with mentions on late-night television and plenty of unsolicited celebrity endorsements. Jimmy Kimmel Live made waves last year with a mock game show called "Can You Tell S#*t from Shinola" that featured company products, including a wristwatch, a basketball, bags and a bicycle, alongside other lesser-quality versions. Contestants had to identify the Shinola and the other products got tossed in a trashcan.
Wow, you can’t buy this kind of endorsement! Bill Clinton calls the company an American success story and is rumored to have purchased more than a dozen as gifts.  Current President Barack Obama is also a fan—during a recent trip to the UK, he presented Prime Minister David Cameron with a custom Shinola watch.
Beyond quality and style, what makes Shinola stand out as a retailer it that its stores are more than stores. They are destination spaces, where people gather for community events, such as whiskey tasting and trivia nights. Shinola has 14 stand-alone flagship stores in the U.S. and one in London.
Products are also sold internationally online and via a select group of retail partners.
Think Retail is excited to welcome Shinola to Canada. For more about this trend-setting brand and its plans for expansion, visit the Shinola website or contact the Think Retail Team