We'll be the first to tell you that we work with some amazing retailers. This ongoing blog post series - "Retailer Spotlight" - is meant to help acquaint you with some of the great people that we have the pleasure of doing business with. When it comes to Jonathan Elias of lost & found in Toronto, we'd call him a friend first and a retailer second. When we first met at NY Market Week two years ago, existing distribution didn't allow us to do business together but we left our meeting enjoying each other's company so much that we both hoped things would change in the future so that we could work together. They did, and we are now proud to be stocked in his shop amongst a bevy of other great brands that we love to sit alongside. Jonathan is the kind of guy you could sit around and chat with for hours over a coffee about clothes, life, Judaism (just kidding, sort of) - and lost & found is just the place to do it. From day one they've had a full service cafe located inside their retail store and from the moment you walk in, you can tell that Jonathan takes pride in creating a comfortable, welcoming environment for his customers. We took some time out to ask him a few questions about his shop and his journey.
After being in your original location for two and a half years, you decided to move last fall. What prompted this, and what do you like best about your new location?
You know, our move was not anticipated whatsoever. We liked our original location; it was where we essentially 'grew' up as a retailer so we weren't actively looking. Our lease was coming up and the landlord wasn't getting back to us so we had to have a backup plan. When we came across our new location, Justin and I went in not wanting to move. We had just recently opened Working Title and were absolutely exhausted...then we saw the space. It was a no brainer. We couldn't pass it up. It was bigger, in a more desirable neighbourhood and looked almost identical to our original space. It was like transporting our original store into a slightly wider and longer space, it was perfect.
I can't describe to you how much more comfortable we are in the new location. The added space and storage has been an absolute welcomed addition, along with the garage and back patio. The fact that we were able to put in a barber shop (Town Barber), well you can start to see the accolades of the move.
Your signage outside says "coffee/clothes." Why do those two things go so well together?
Coffee and clothes - the end all and be all of lost & found essentially. While living in SF I really started to drink coffee and noticed that every time I shopped I had a coffee in hand. I always thought to myself it would make complete sense to have both offerings in one place, and at this point the light went off in my head. The experience of just walking around and shopping with a coffee in hand has always been not only a favourite activity but a relaxing activity. It just allows me to turn my brain off and take in the experience. And I think you guys can attest to this more than most!
How did your previous positions in fashion help to equip you as a first time shop owner?
My previous position in fashion was working as a merchandiser for Old Navy. It's interesting - coming from a completely business oriented background I had a specific way of thinking. Making the move to work for GAP was a little bit of an eye opener. Not everything needs to be done via excel (albeit I still try to)! but combining my business background with a newfound understanding of the business of fashion, it was a great combo. I always knew we were going to open a store and I truly believe that every stage in my life has lead me down this path. I constantly tell people not to rush into things, but rather to learn, experience, understand and become an expert in an industry. The more experience, you have the better.
You opened up a second shop called Working Title last year. How does it differ from lost & found?
Working Title is definitely a little more progressive in terms of fashion. Our partners Paul and Mike who run the shop really embrace the art of fashion and have brought in brands with an obvious mixture of both contemporary and classic. lost & found on the other hand is definitely more of that every day wear, tried and true, pieces that stand the test of time both in terms of longevity and trend. And that is something that definitely resonates with me. lost & found has a coffee bar and barber shop, while Working Title has an art and photography bookstore in the basement. Again, with each store we try to create a unique and memorable experience each and every time you come in.
What are some of your favorite small businesses in your area that you like to support?
Some of our favourite small businesses (other than fashion) that we like to support are definitely the local restaurants. Town Barber for hair chops. Union and Cote de Boeuf which are sister companies have some of the best meats we've EVER tasted. Bolt, a local juice bar, is another favourite. Odd Seoul for korean fusion, Baker Bots for pastries and treats that happen all too often. Bellwoods Brewery for after work beverages. We try to support as many of our friends in the neighbourhood as possible. We've always been a close knit community both inside and outside of the store.
lost & found.
44 Ossington Ave.
Toronto, ON M6J 2Y7