RECO6NIZE: TORONTO'S NEW JORDAN BRAND STORE
It’s finally here. Toronto is now home to a Jordan Brand store. Right in the heart of the city (306 Yonge)-- between the vibrancy of the square and the diverse faces who frequent it, the location is couldn’t be more perfect. I was fortunate enough to receive a tour of the space before opening day and was very impressed --- but not surprised, with how much attention was paid to every single detail of the store. When I first entered through the double doors, I felt as though I was walking into a museum.From the open-concept layout to the directional spotlighting to the artwork --everything placed and positioned with a purpose-. I started the tour upstairs at Centre 23, a state-of-the-art training facility made specifically for Jordan Brand and local athletes. It was very clear that as much as the public was a big priority, the Jordan Brand wanted to make sure that it’s athletes we well taken care of.The facility includes an NBA-sized locker room as well as official Jordan Brand trainers. Did I mention that there was a barbershop? They played no games when it came to building a full 360 experience.
I headed down the stairs to the main floor and to my left was the store's customization room where you can add your own personal touch to merchandise in the store. Catering to the local consumers, you can rep your neighborhood in the GTA by getting it stamped on the jackets and t-shirts that you purchase. Surveying the city and how diverse it is, having a space where you can tailor universally loved pieces to your style and background was a top priority for the store.
Along the center wall (wall on the right if you’re entering the store) there is a case filled with original Jordan 1s through 30s. Each shoe with a story to tell. Above it, there is a massive mural of famous “Wings” poster featuring the GOAT himself. Below it, a nice lounge area completed with leather couches and a coffee table. Sitting on the center couch, VP and GM of Jordan North America, Sarah Mensah. The woman behind the execution. Mensah was the one responsible for picking out the location and creating the perfect retail space. Extremely passionate about the brand and what it stands for, in the first few minutes of our conversation you right away get a feel for just how much went into getting this store right.I was lucky enough to sit down with her and get a breakdown of how this space came to be.
Q & A
FROM THE SCOUTING OF VARIOUS LOCATIONS TO MAKING SURE THIS SPACE WAS REFLECTIVE OF WHAT JORDAN BRAND IS ALL ABOUT, HOW REWARDING IS IT TO SEE THINGS FINALLY COME TOGETHER?
It’s tremendous to see everything come together. Prior to the 2016 AllStar, we came to Toronto looking for a space to host an event and were really just doing scouting for the event execution during that time. As part of that work, we just became ever so increasingly in love with the city of Toronto and its fans and consumers. Given the incredible international nature of the city, we just knew that we needed to put a store here.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT TORONTO THAT STOOD OUT TO YOU THE MOST?
It is such a significant global city. It’s emerging and being more known for that more and more each day. I also think that relates to the sport of basketball because it is one of those cities outside of the United States where NBA Basketball is understood and celebrated by multiple generations. When we think of the Jordan Brand, we do think about this nexus between sport and culture. It just seemed like that’s very synonymous with what Toronto is.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOUR TO INCORPORATE THE TRAINING FACILITY – EQUIPPED WITH A BARBERSHOP MIGHT I ADD, UPSTAIRS?
It was very important. That was the reason why it took a lot longer to open up the space then we had anticipated. We really knew that we wanted to make this an experience. This is so much more than just a store. It is an opportunity for the community of Toronto to have a touch-point to the Jordan-Brand. I believe you achieve that by really telling stories and those stories are always routed in sports. so having that facility at our open was really important.
HOW DO YOU THINK FANS WILL RECEIVE THIS STORE IN THIS KIND OF MARKET?
Well, I’m hoping that number one, everyone likes the store—I mean, we think it's beautiful, I hope people feel the same. I hope that people get a chance to learn. There are all kinds of stories and layers. You can spend hours in this space. It may seem like it is only 2900 square feet but you can literally spend hours in here learning. Standing in front of you here, I’m looking at 1-31 original Jordans and every single one of them have really rich stories behind them. I hope people learn, are entertained and I hope they come back.