Spruce Collective in downtown Abbotsford is a brick and mortar shop that offers antique and home décor. The vision for such a place was shared by five women who worked to make it happen. From pop-up to permanent, Spruce Collective flourished among the big name companies.
“Spruce Collective’s beginning are serendipitous,” says Lily Ellis, one of the store’s founders. It began two years ago at a local vintage and homemade market in Abbotsford that Ellis co-hosted. Elisa Robertson, one of the vendors from the market, was inspired by the community’s reception of vintage goods, and it gave her the idea of making her business into something a little more stable. In just two weeks, five women had rallied together to create that very business.
The humble beginnings of a pop-up shop or vendor like Spruce Collective have become quite the trend by creating an opportunity to ease into the business world. So what is the secret of a company that fell together by chance? How does one move from dream to reality? Ellis gives some insight on how they got this far.
When first establishing the company, Robertson knew that her resources were not enough to sustain a shop. By creating a community of women who were moving in the same direction, they created a better support for the individuals and the overall business.
“Teaming up with like-minded small business is another excellent way to grow your business,” says Ellis. “Our new location, The Market, is a prime example. We have 11 individual businesses under one roof working together to reach the same target market while setting their own personal styles and tastes.”
One of the biggest hurdles for small-scale business can be the financial support for a big transition. Ellis points out that while they seemed to rally together financially, it’s a steep slope when starting a company.
“In the past, we were all home based and had minimal expenses to operate our teeny vintage and vintage rental businesses,” she says. “Moving into a retail location is not for the faint of heart. We definitely recommend that anyone looking to make the jump to be prepared.”
Much of Spruce’s success comes from knowing trends. The initial store platform grew out of seeing customer response to the market and staying current as they became popular.
“We first observed the shift in our consumers during our market days and it’s been fascinating for us to observe the increase in small business awareness since our doors opened three years ago,” Ellis says. “Each of us are passionate about vintage goods and always look first to using what we already have before following any new design trends.”
Getting your foot in the door means providing a product that has a distinct edge to intrigue consumers. Spruce Collective presents something different in every piece that they sell, from their local clothing brands to a unique assortment of door handles.
“While there’s always a market for mass-produced goods, our focus is on reusing vintage pieces and sourcing high quality and locally made products, pieces with personality. In our opinion, people are tired of ‘cookie cutter’ mentality in home decor and fashion and are looking for original goods and services, outside of the limits of big-box stores.”
Spruce Collective would not be where it is without their roots in venues like temporary markets. It gave the women of Spruce the ability to understand their business and get where they are today.
“Local markets and pop-up shops are the perfect way to test a neighborhood or demographic,” says Ellis. “They’re temporary and relatively low risk compared to signing a multi-year lease for a new business.”
Colleen Little is a freelance writer and editor in Vancouver. She contributes to Vancity Buzz and Converge Magazine. Follow her on Instagram at @cocoolittle.