Vintage shop moves into new business zone in Kelowna
Poised as it is on the edge of a retail trend, Perch Travelling Boutique may be the most aptly named new business in the city.
Owner Robyn Flinn got the idea to open a vintage clothing shop in an old school bus from a friend in Portland who pointed out the mobile shopping malls springing up in parking lots all over the United States.
Soon Flinn was registered as the second Canadian member of the American Mobile Retail Association and setting up a bus full of crazy cool finds.
“I would like to be a little landmark; something that Kelowna is known for,” she said. “Everyone I talk to thinks it is such a good idea and people always want to know when I’ll be taking the bus out.”
Unfortunately, finding the perfect bus stop has proven dicey.
While Flinn has done plenty of events—Small Shop Thursday, Fabulous Finds, May Days, September Days—the bus doesn’t qualify for a permanent spot at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market because her wares are not “made, baked or grown.”
While she’s been invited out to heART school on Bernard Avenue on several occasions—she’ll be there this Sunday for a concert—venues like the downtown food truck fair at Prospera Place remain closed to her because she isn’t selling edibles.
“I am in a unique situation. I resell. I don’t make any of my product. So it means I have to get creative about how I go about this,” she said.
Perch Travelling Boutique only appears to have two contemporaries—a children’s clothing shop in Victoria and another small shop in Calgary.
Flinn is ecstatic about the various market possibilities being proposed for Kelowna and Lake Country and, like any proactive business person, is trying to ingratiate herself with the developers behind the Kelowna pitches to see if her concept might fit their mould.
South of the border, everything from stereo equipment to records, books to hip-hop gear is sold in the niche mobile shops, which tend to draw more customers to the surrounding businesses. The shopkeepers congregate in mobile shopping markets, similar to the food truck nodes now standard across North America, and Flinn sees no reason the Central Okanagan is not geared to pick up on the trend.
“I would like for people who have ideas like this to think: ‘Hey, Kelowna is the place to be because they’re open to my concept and I might be able to actually do it here,’” she said.
For now, her big blue bus rolls from invite to invite as she sources out customers and follows the open road of requests.
On the morning of this interview, three ladies were knocking at her doors for a private party in hopes of finding the perfect old-school look for a wedding.
“Right now, I’m into 50s party dresses. Lots of big skirts and tulle” she said.
Vintage has carved out a niche in the lucrative wedding scene and Flinn has plans to start a rental line for events out of the bus.
For now, she’s cranking out the Instagram shots and speeding through rounds of catchy Facebook posts.
With a permanent spot in the early adopter’s hall of fame, she would really love a place to set up shop on a regular basis.
Portland’s Lodekka Double Decker Dress Shop, a vintage clothing shop in one of London’s famous double-decker buses, is so popular it made the Calgary Herald’s list of things to see in the city .
Flinn has her sights set on more of the same for Perch Travelling Boutique.