For years, Myra worked as a leader at a local non-profit while operating a consignment store on the side. She would organize pop up sales at markets and didn’t have a permanent retail location. During a visit to see her daughter Michelle in Montreal, Myra was inspired by a store that was using a unique buy, sell, trade model instead of a typical ‘trade your clothes for cash or store credit’ model that was happening in Calgary.
Myra enrolled in a business training program at Momentum in April 2016 and graduated from the program in September 2016. With a microloan from Momentum, Myra and her daughter Michelle, co-owner, opened Velour Clothing Exchange in November 2016.
“I couldn’t have grown my business without that first microloan,” Myra says.
Michelle runs Velour’s social media and website and the company has over 13,000 followers on Instagram. Social media has allowed the business to grow digitally, which is especially helpful since the store is tucked away upstairs above Tubby Dog on 17th Avenue.
Velour’s digital presence proved to be invaluable when the store had to temporarily shutter its doors due to the pandemic. By using Instagram to share photos of items that were available for purchase and curbside pickup, they were able to keep selling to their customers.
“I am so grateful to Michelle who designed the website and set up the store, so that process is very streamlined and is working really well,” Myra says.
Myra and Michelle are celebrating 4 years of business and was also one of five vintage store from across Canada to be featured in Chatelaine Magazine’s September/October 2020 issue! The company is also a member of the Be Local Network – a network of businesses who care about community – and has been raising money for the Black Lives Matter movement and has contributed funds to Indigenous organizations through the fundraising of t-shirts sold in store. They raised $2,000 over the summer and continue to fundraise.
“I’ve been saying to people, if we can run a vintage store in Calgary and get through a pandemic, then I think we can do anything!”
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Photo Credit: Elyse Bouvier