Founded by the mother-daughter duo, Mama Loves You, one of the hottest vintage shopping spots on Queen Street, offers a wide selection of hand-picked vintage pieces from the 1900s to the modern vintage ages. Daughter Mahro is the one in charge of all the merchandising, daily operations, window displays and everything related to their store in Toronto. Except some one-of-the-kind bridal dresses and coats are a little bit costly, most of the pieces they carry are very wallet-friendly- their blouses and sweaters are generally between $30 to $60 CAD. We have the honoured to visit their lovely store and had an on-one-on conversation with Mahro. And of course, we did some shopping.
Novella: Can you walk us through the regular operational process- from sourcing products to putting up window displays?
Mahro: My mom does all the buying from Vancouver. She would go to these warehouses and pick items for the store. Once she gets them, she washes them, cleans them, mends them in Vancouver and then she would send them in boxes through Greyhound. Every couple of weeks I would get whole bunch of boxes and shipments. And I’m responsible for taking them out, steaming them or even altering them. I will get my friends to alter them if, you know, I need to make a current twist to it. I’m in charge of merchandise, daily sales and operations. So we really reply on each other. I can’t do anything without her and she can’t do anything without me. (laughing) We need each other.
Novella: The price point of your mechanizes is very reasonable considering the quality and selections you are offering. Why did you decide to keep it so low?
Mahro: I had just been a customer for so long for other vintage stores so that when I designed this space, I was thinking about it through a customer’s eyes. So I set the price as what I would want to spend on something. I’m not thinking of what’s the most I would make of this item, but I’m thinking how much would I pay for this item. I want it to be relatable.
(The phone rings, I told her it’s okay for her to pick it up. She laughs and says: “It’s okay. It’s always telemarketing. We never, never get customers calling here. haha”)
Novella: Your store is located in a prime location- on Queen and in between Spadina and Bathurst. Do you find this location helps with your sales?
Mahro: The location is amazing. I used to work at Used: The house Of Vintage that is just few blocks away, and before that, I worked at American Apparel on the next block. So this is my third job on this one block. I’ve worked here for years, so I know a lot of people here, the clientele, and I’m very familiar with the neighbourhood. So I feel very comfortable opening a business here. Although the rent is hard because it’s Queen Street, I just think it’s worth it because there is always going to have traffic. Even when there is a snowstorm, we still get people coming in. It’s a destination spot. We not only get people from the neighbourhood, but also many tourists as well.
Novella: What is the biggest challenge to have a vintage store business?
Mahro: I think the biggest challenge is sometimes you can work the hardest and put everything you have into it, but at the end of the day, there is nothing to do with you. Maybe a customer just doesn’t want to buy anything that day. You can do as much as you can do on one end. Sometimes you just have to put it out there and see how other people response to it, I guess. But again, this is all the retail business’s problems. (laughing)
Novella: I’m not sure if you are familiar with the book, #GirlBoss?
Mahro: I heard about it but I haven’t read it yet.
Novella: Well, basically, she started a vintage store on E-bay and now is the owner of one of the biggest online retail giants. What do you see yourself in the future?Are you happy with having one local store or you think you might want to go down a different path?
Mahro: Everyone keeps asking me: “Oh, are you going to open another location in Vancouver?” “Are you gonna open second store here?” I just want to make this store as amazing as I can. Yes, there is always a possibility to expand, but I just want to focus on one thing at a time and make myself really proud of this store by making it the best I can. This is my baby.
Novella: As you know, I’m a regular customer to your store and every time I’m here, you are here. Do you think the fact that always being in the store helps you make a special connection with your clients?
Mahro: We are very lucky because my mom is the one buying, so I have the ability to be here most days. So yeah, I have all these amazing regulars and I’ve built friendships with them. And I would know what they want, what they are looking for. And that helps with the buying process because I can tell my mom: “this customer is looking for this. Please find it.” And this builds an even stronger relationship with customers.
See anything you like in this post? Great! For this week (9th-15th of February), you can get a 15% off discount to shop at Mama Loves You Vintage located at 541 Queen St. West, and all you need to do is sign up to our FREE Club Membership (here)! YES, it’s that easy! Let’s shop local, shop vintage!
Now YOU could also be our “Vintage Month Star” to be featured on our website and receive a bag full of goodies. Just incorporate at least one vintage piece to your #OOTD, post it on your Facebook or/and Twitter and tag #NovellaVM! Let’s have some fun!
Photos by Celia Fernandez