How Two Sister Stores on the Danforth Survived and Thrived Through the Pandemic
VOOM sits down with these independent small business operators to find out how.
One of the best things about living in Riverdale is strolling along the Danforth and visiting boutiques IQ Living and Moss. These local sister stores on the Danforth, are filled with so much goodness that it's hard to simply describe them. The best way to get to know these gems is to visit and see them for yourself. If you need anything for your kitchen, home or garden, or want to find a little something special for a gift, we'd highly recommend that you check them out. After 16 years of business, it should come as no surprise that these two business partners and life partners, owners and operators, know how to deliver an exceptional customer experience. They're involved in the community, they have an eye for selecting the best of the best for your home and garden, and quite simply have mastered the art of running a successful business while taking great care of their staff and customers.
We were delighted when they agreed to carry VOOMcart. In the true spirit of how they roll in business, they embraced us with in-store and digital promotions that helped kickstart our success in the community. With this in mind, we thought we could all learn a thing or two from Vince Manchella and Robb Degenais.
... VOOM - We are coming out of the 3rd lockdown in Toronto. Can you tell us what the secret was to getting two stores through a series of grueling closures?
Vince – Our staff’s ability to adapt quickly to the realities of the openings and closings definitely made it all much easier. That and the fact that the websites are well-managed, making our customers experience easier. VOOM - Is there anything you learned from the pandemic that will change the way you operate your business in the future?
Robb - We’ve always put adaptability at the top of our list of important qualities in staff and ourselves and now even more so! That and probably to never take for granted that product will always be a mouse click away. Planning ahead so that we can always provide our customers with all the goodies they are used to!
VOOM - As partners in life and business with side-by-side stores, what does the behind-the-scenes management of the stores look like, who does what and where do you both shine?
Robb - Running a small independent business means there are no clear lines of responsibility. Everyone has to be prepared to do anything and I mean EVERY-thing! And we do! But Vince is definitely the numbers guy!
VOOM - You are both pretty involved in the community, is there a cause or initiative that particularly interests you?
Vince - Community is definitely the word that does the heavy lifting in that question. It’s just that… community. Support other local businesses. It’s what has gotten us all through this crazy time. But specifically Moss is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community and at iQ we think a lot about the environment and 416BeeLocal is a pet favourite of ours.
VOOM - IQ living and Moss have been an institution on the Danforth for 16 years, looking back did you have any idea that you would still be at it 16 years later or what you were getting yourselves into?
Robb - We probably had no true picture of where we eventually wound up but we are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be doing it! We both just wanted to do what we love and here we are still doing it! It’s probably because we love it that we’re still here… that and the loyalty of the neighborhood. VOOM - What is the most popular, can't live without product or line at IQ and at Moss?
Vince - At Moss the hands down favourite is the Canadian made Muskoka Chair from CR Plastic and at iQ it’s a tie between our gorgeous Le Creuset enamelled cast iron French ovens and the Soda Stream. Recently however the Kitchen Aid has really been proving very popular. VOOM - Do you guys ever get into some fun, healthy IQ vs Moss competition? Do tell.
Robb - There is always a little bit of competitiveness between the stores and it usually takes the shape of how many skids we’re shifting off the sidewalk. Moss pretty much always wins for sheer size and weight but iQ wins hands down for quantity. There’s always a lot of joking about getting it all into the stores or basement. VOOM - Let's face it you don't survive a pandemic as a local independent store without business savvy, what's your secret?
Having a good relationship with our suppliers and consistently trying to understand and satisfy our customers needs. VOOM - Both of you are admired in the community for your amazing business instincts and customer care. What advice do you have for anyone looking to put out their own shingle?
Robb - Always put your customers needs first. Back yourself up with a strong (pun intended) staff who share your ideals. Be willing to roll with the punches because there will be a lot of them and always be willing to roll up your sleeves and get into whatever task needs doing.
VOOM - Obviously we are thrilled that you are selling VOOMcart at IQ Living, can you tell us why you think VOOMcart appeals to IQ's customers?
Vince - The VOOMcart is a great (and great looking!) product with well thought out features. It represents the quality our customers have come to expect from us.
Our TOP 5 FAVE IQ Living Products
VOOMcart (of course)
Our Top 5 FAVE Moss Products
Furniture indoor and out