Montreal Street Collective started after the partnership at Open Studios Kingston, an art studio and sewing shop, ended just before the pandemic hit. One of the partners, Vanessa Martin, worked through the idea of a thrift shop during the pandemic. Amid the financial challenges, Martin put together a new business plan along with two other partners, Clare Palmer and Emma Jackson.
“We would hold pop-ups with local thrifters every so often. They always did very well! However, as our partnership as Open Studios was coming to an end, I wanted to switch to thrift for the summer as a great way to try it out full time,” said Martin, who, along with running Montreal Street Collective, is also a local painter since 2008 and teaches art workshops in Kingston for anyone interested in learning about painting.
Changing the business model during the pandemic was challenging. Still, along with the help of new partners in business, Martin put together a shop and included interested vendors who wanted to sell their finds, which also helped relieve the burden of rent on one person, she expressed.
“The hardest part for the shop was financially — just before the pandemic, the shop went from two owners to one, as we excitedly agreed to pursue our other passions separately and wished each other well, but with no knowledge there was a pandemic in store for us both,” said Martin.
The shop opens on Saturday, Jun. 12, 2021 after a long lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And for those behind Montreal Street Collective the excitement is palpable.
“I couldn’t be happier to have made it through lockdown with my business partners, Vanessa and Emma. They have been the support system I needed to keep motivated,” Palmer expressed. “We took the lockdown as an opportunity to renovate and improve the storefront. We’re excited for the return of our customers and downtown shopping. I’m relieved and very excited to be re-opening!”
People who wish to sell their clothes to the collective can drop them at the shop in a ready-to-sell and clean condition. The shop owners will then offer a price for each item that is in good condition. All the items not in a condition to sell will then be donated on the sellers’ behalf, or picked up by the seller. Through this model, Montreal Street Collective is able to create and draw from a community network, Jackson explained.
“We are coming up on our one year anniversary and even though we’ve been closed for much of that, we have been able to grow a wonderful community of vendors and customers. We see an amazing, diverse cross section of the Kingston community in our space and we love the individual connections we have made with our regulars,” she said.
To find out more about Montreal Street Collective, and see some of the items they have in store, follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Montreal Street Collective is located at 39 Montreal Street in downtown Kingston.