Business Profile: The Model Shop

Business Profile: The Model Shop

By: Jason Sheppard

The Model Shop, one of St. John’s oldest businesses, can now be found in a fresh, new home while still recognizing its long history

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It has been a staple of downtown St. John’s ever since 1928. The Model Shop, whose motto was “the store where style begins”, has been popular with brides and grooms, excited teens heading to prom and has been the go-to place for formal wear in the downtown core – until very recently. This past June, The Model Shop relocated to Kenmount Road.

90 Years Strong

The Model Shop provides dresses for brides and bridesmaids, supplies tuxedo rentals (and sales) for the gents, while also providing day and evening wear for work, Christmas or New Year parties, galas and of course, weddings. Whatever your dress wear needs are, The Model Shop has been fitting and dressing the people of this province for an incredible 90 years.  

“We’ve been doing it for a long time,” laughs owner Lori Pitcher.

So after all those years in the very heart of the city, why the move?  “Basically we had issues with parking downtown and we felt it would be better to serve our customers where we could provide a parking lot,” Pitcher explains. “When we were downtown, the building was four stories tall and harder to get in and out of. Here we’re just one floor and the building is accessible.”

VARIETY & PATIENCE

With the area and businesses in and around Kenmount Road now booming, when it came time for The Model Shop to consider a new location, Pitcher specifically began looking in that area, mainly due to it’s close proximity to The Avalon Mall. 

“With all the popular retail stores in this area, we just decided to come up here,” Pitcher tells us. “This is like our Yonge Street in Toronto. It’s been pretty good. I must say we’ve been doing really well. I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done in the last six months.”

Pitcher, who purchased the store from the previous owners back in 2012, explains how her business operates. 

“We don’t create the clothes, we buy them. We go on a couple buying shows a year and pick out clothes we feel would be suitable for clients in St. John’s.”

Depending on the season, The Model Shop orders the clothes which they expect to be popular. They also provide legal-styled clothing to judges and lawyers, specifically the items they wear in court. “We do the sizes and measurements and order them from our legal supplier,” Pitcher adds.  

Ordering a wedding gown will require six to seven months notice. To order a prom gown would require three to four. “A person would come in and pick out the dress that they like for their event and then we would place it on order and then the vendors would put it in the queue to get made and six months later, the dress is sent to us.”  

Keeping the Tradition

One thing Pitcher and her staff did not want to lose in the move was the sense of tradition which is meaningful not just to them, but to customers as well.

 “We get a lot of people in here who tell us that their parents have bought their wedding gowns here or their tuxedos here,” Pitcher acknowledged. In fact, she recently had two ladies come in carrying their own bit of history. 

“One of them bought their dress from us in 1952 and another bought hers in 1948 and they returned them to the store in their original packaging. One of the women came in with her husband and because they never had children, they brought the dress back to us. People’s grandparents and great-grandparents have bought formal wear here.” 

Pitcher says the returned gowns are in such pristine condition, she plans to display them in photo boxes in the store.

“We hear stories like that all the time,” marveled Pitcher. “There’s a sense of pride when we hear someone come in and say my great-grandmother bought her dress here, my mother bought her dress here and now I’m buying my dress here. There really is just so much history.” 

To contact The Model Shop call 753-7567 or visit themodelshop.ca

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