Mark’s Expanding Retail Brand Partnerships with Launch of Columbia Sportswear Shop-in-Shops [Interview/Photos]

Isaura M. League

Canadian retailer Mark’s, part of the Canadian Tire Group of Companies, has launched a new shop-in-shop concept with Columbia Sportswear in stores across the country.

The SIS concept will open initially in eight Mark’s locations. 

“Canadians work and play outside year-round through drastic weather conditions, and they need to be prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at them,” said PJ Czank, President of Mark’s. “Columbia is a leading brand in warm and cold weather apparel and footwear, and this partnership will help us meet our customers’ outdoor needs while providing a unique and tailored customer experience that compliments the communities we serve across Canada.”

Image: Mark’s

The Mark’s Shaughnessy location in southwest Calgary has opened in about 1,600 square feet and was chosen as the first SIS because of the city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains and the active outdoor lifestyle of its local residents. In 2023, Mark’s will also launch seven other enhanced SIS locations in the following cities:

  • Langley, BC
  • Airdrie, AB
  • Edmonton
  • Saskatoon
  • Thunder Bay
  • Ottawa
  • Charlottetown, P.E.I. 

Each SIS location will feature an expanded assortment of Columbia products including Columbia’s proprietary thermal reflective warmth technologies, along with a range of women’s, men’s and kid’s apparel, footwear and accessories. The shops will range in size from 800 to 1,600 square feet, with dedicated product experts on hand to help customers select the appropriate gear to suit their needs.

Image: Mark’s

“As part of our journey to expand the appeal of the Mark’s brand, there’s people who traditionally wouldn’t think of shopping at Mark’s,” said Czank, adding the retailer believed it could appeal to a broader spectrum of Canadians by offering certain partnerships with leading brands such as Levi’s and Columbia and Timberland.

“About two years ago we opened a shop-in-shop (location) in partnership with Levi’s and it’s been very successful. And this partnership with Columbia is basically our plan to take it to the next level.

“We’ll start with the eight first – the ones we’ve got planned – and then as we open new stores if the space allows we’ll look to do these shop-in-shop concepts with Columbia for one because it is a leading brand.

Image: Mark’s

“We’re getting into the kids’ apparel with Columbia because we think it will be another opportunity for us to expand the appeal of the brand. In this first shop, there’s an expanded kids’ assortment as well. So we’re pretty excited about that because it’s one of the businesses we haven’t traditionally gone into. Research shows us that customers who would want to shop at Mark’s would want to be able to get winter apparel for kids.”

Czank said the company’s mission is to keep Canadians warmer, dryer, safer and more comfortable. Columbia became a natural partner for Mark’s. 

“We’ve been doing business with Columbia since 2014. This is just a natural extension. It’s a well-loved brand.”

Image: Mark’s

Mark’s currently operates 384 stores across the country. 

“We’ve been pretty stable. We closed a few of the underperforming stores and we just consolidated them into bigger store formats. We’re looking to open about six new stores by the end of 2023. Two of them will be typical Mark’s stores and four of them we’re going to be trying out something new but it’s a little early to get into the specifics yet,” said Czank.

“As the colder weather settles into Calgary and other cities across Canada, it’s the perfect time for us to expand our relationship with Mark’s,” said Dave Brulé, General Manager at Columbia Sportswear Canada. “Led by our new Omni-HeatTM Infinity reflective technology, Columbia has built our reputation on developing new innovations in warmth, and we’re looking forward to ensuring that everyone can enjoy the outdoors this winter.”

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