Retail business expands, in store and online
Creemore’s business district has weathered the storm of the pandemic for the most part through hard work, ingenuity, customer loyalty and innovation. In some cases the pandemic has forced small business to change up their model, with some finding a better, more efficient way of doing business.
For Laurie Severn and Pere Armengol, the pandemic illustrated the need for more space.
They opened Heirloom 142 in 2015 and then opened Lagom in the small building next door in 2018.
Although they were sad to see the toy store close, a store they thought of as an anchor business for Creemore’s main street, Severn and Armengol took the opportunity to rent 172 Mill Street when it became available, for Lagom 172, which opened at the beginning of December.
Because of its small size and limited traffic flow, the original Lagom – Lagom 142 – was and is limited to two shoppers during the pandemic. By opening a much larger store, they are able to better display the larger furnishings – sofas, tables and chairs, plus more home decor, bath and body products, clothing and accessories – and shoppers have more space.
But there was a looming uncertainty of a shutdown, which Armengol compared to the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.
Severn said Christmas is always a stressful time in retail, plus the pandemic has caused delays in shipping and new protocols to manage around managing customer flow.
However, retail stores remained open until Christmas, when the whole province went into a seven-week shutdown, when shopping was limited to online and curbside pick-up.
Stores were able to re-open last week as the region went into the red-restrict zone.
Armengol said there is still some caution out there, on the part of themselves and their customers so they are working out ways to make the shopping experience as comfortable as possible for everyone.
During the pandemic their online sales have actually tripled and they have three part-time employees working for the online store, packing and shipping orders.
Lagom is a Scandinavian word, almost a philosophy, that means just the right amount – not too much and not too little. It is about balance and creating a lovely space using just the right things.
“We love the aesthetic,” said Severn, “we love the idea that you don’t have to have a lot of things, but they should be beautiful.”
She and Armengol also value the way things are made. Everything they carry is personally sourced from small companies that they have gotten to know (in most years they travel to Scandinavia to connect with the manufacturers).
Severn said their three main criteria for stocking a product is that it is beautifully designed, functional and mindfully made.
Armengol said the criteria are more than lip service to a retail trend, they strive to ensure that everything is ethically made, and fair trade when sourced from outside of Canada or Europe, and meets their standards for design, function and sustainability.
Severn, who is the current BIA president, said the village did a brisk business in the summer. She and Armengol said they were worried when all events were cancelled but the summer was as busy as any other, thanks to locals, those who were living full time at their weekend homes, and day-trippers.
Severn and Armengol say they are super confident about the village’s future.
“We’re really excited to invest in Creemore. We believe in Creemore,” said Severn. “We are really lucky to be here. The community support has been really amazing.”