Stroll down an alleyway behind a bank at the west end of Tofino, B.C., and you’ll happen upon a small pink house, the home of local boutique Merge. “Because we’re tucked away, people talk about us more,” owner Laurie Boudreault says of her shop’s secluded location. “We painted it pink to attract the eye.”
Inside, Merge offers a warm, tropical contrast to Tofino’s misty grey atmosphere. Boudreault has infused the space with personal touches, withphotographs, plants as well as nods to surfing (it was the town’s surf culture that lured Boudreault, a Quebec City native, to the area in 2013). “We like to describe the shop as thoughtful goods for the body, the home, and every bit of life in-between,” Boudreault says. One recent addition is her custom-made roll-on fragrance, which was inspired by watching customers react to scented candles and perfumes. “It’s a mix of scents that people are really attracted to, and that makes it a really mysterious fragrance.”
Since opening Merge five years ago, Boudreault has focused on working with artisans to create unique products that encapsulate the vibe of Tofino, such as her popular hand-knit Colette sweater. “If you were in Tofino as fall hits, you would wear your cozy sweater as you go on a stroll after breakfast,” Boudreault says. Her new surfboard fin features a natural fern that was foraged on the island. “I usually work with small businesses and makers to make some ideas that I have that I can’t execute myself. I have a design in mind, and I work with those makers to make that happen.”
Merge, 305-B Campbell St., Tofino, BC, 250-913-0114, shopmerge.ca.
Handmade Longboard Fin with Natural Fern Insert, $170.
Merge Balmy Summer Roll-On Fragrance, $36.
Merge Pitcher Flat Wing Handle, $48.
Shopping centres in the Greater Toronto Area are making changes to enhance customer safety during the holiday season. Oxford Properties’ Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Square One and the Scarborough Town Centre have launched enhanced customer service initiatives including personalized eGift cards available online and curbside pickup. And Santa will be available for a virtual, contact-free visit and photo session at Santa’s Magic Mirror. Meanwhile, Bayview Village is offering Zoom visits with Santa, who is also making appearances on its Instagram account.
Canadian clothing companies are expanding their offerings into new categories ahead of the winter months. Intimates brand Knix has launched its Cozzzy Collection, a selection of loungewear and accessories for women that includes track pants, sweaters, scarves and even a blanket. And Kotn has added its first collection of housewares to its range of apparel. Known for Egyptian cotton T-shirts, the brand has introduced two bedding sets, a handwoven bedspread, a quilted comforter and tea towels to the collection.
This month, travel brand Away has more than doubled its line of bags and accessories. The new styles reflect customer feedback and insights, taking into account Away clients’ desires for pieces that are adaptable and versatile as well as shifting travel and lifestyle needs. This expansion includes both permanent additions to Away’s core collection as well as a limited-edition selection of holiday products in seasonal colours and fabrics. The latest small leather goods include wallets and card holders, and bags include messenger, laptop and backpack styles.
Vancouver-based jewellery line True Curated Designs has recently launched True North, a limited-edition bracelet raising funds for the B.C. Women’s Health Foundation. Made of 14 karat gold, it features a compass-inspired charm. Toronto’s Mindham Fine Jewellery is hosting the Canadian premiere of Assael, a line of gem pearl and precious coral jewellery. Available by private and virtual appointment, the collection will include South Sea and Tahitian Pearls, as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. And Mejuri has recently released the Toronto Dome Ring, the third design in its Dome and the City series, a collection of rings that celebrate cities around the world.
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