Popular fashion boutique Aurora celebrates its 25th anniversary by moving downtown
Oakridge’s Fashion opens a new chapter “in the heart” of the community near Yonge and Wellington
Aurora’s popular Oakridge’s Fashions is taking a bold step: into the heart of the community it has served for 25 years.
On New Year’s Eve, the store secured a lease for a sprawling new space in the heart of downtown Aurora: the old CIBC building just steps from Yonge and Wellington.
With a larger footprint and dedicated parking at the back entrance of the building, it’s an exciting new chapter for owner Deb Clark and her team.
“It feels good. It feels like this is where we belong,” Clark says of moving his business from the Aurora Mall to Yonge Street and Murray Drive in historic downtown Aurora. he business itself is so deeply rooted in the community, it feels good to have my business site in the heart of the community as well. They go together and I feel both lucky and a bit proud to be able to step in early to support the revitalization of the historic downtown. We really believe in it and we want to see this revitalization succeed – and one of the things we can do is be there.
Clark says she’s excited about all the opportunities the area has in the future, including the new downtown parking lot to serve both Aurora Town Square (formerly Library Square) and businesses in the area on the horizon, the foot traffic that Town Square will bring, and the location’s proximity to the seasonal Aurora Farmers’ Market and the new Aurora United Church and its associated retirement community.
When they open their new doors in early spring, they will be able to roll out their apparel and accessories lines in a space a third larger than their current store, giving customers “a really great experience.”
It also has a basement to support the retail space above and an on-site kitchen that will help renew Oakridge’s dream of becoming a community hub for local fundraising, including momentum was building just before COVID-19 arrived.
“The new space means we’ll be able to conduct our business with greater ease and depth,” Clark says. “A classic question we hear all the time now is, ‘Do you have another one in another size?’ and often we have to order it because we don’t have the space to store extra stock on the floor.
“Ticking boxes to make sure it’s the right decision, first on my list were the customers’ boxes: Would they be comfortable? Will they be able to park? Will they feel at home? Can I transform this space into something that is both new and the same in a way that customers come in and feel comfortable? I am sensitive to the fact that change is sometimes difficult and I understand that very well, but it is also an essential part of everyone’s life from time to time – so I wanted to tick all those boxes that would help my clients make the transition.
“The next set of boxes was about how the building supports us better than where we are now to do business. Of course, it’s all about space, it’s all about storage, and, for when we’re past the pandemic days, and we will, this space is just fantastic for us to have wonderful community gatherings and events. It lends itself wonderfully to this, from a front door to a back door for guests, to a kitchen, to toilets, to beautiful light from five west-facing windows. These things all spoke to me largely in terms of opportunities that don’t exist where we are right now.
Once things get back to normal, Clark hopes to host events that focus on apparel and fashion, of course, but also give back to the community.
“That’s what makes me happy,” she says. “It’s one thing to own a business and be successful and have a good bottom line, but what really makes me happy is when we can host an event that gives back to one of the many deserving organizations that serve and support our community.. This is why I am in community business and why I want to be here at the heart of our community.
“It’s a whole new chapter for a store that has thrived, endured and been loved by so many in this city. As the manager of this company, I feel truly excited and grateful to know that we are securing a very enjoyable new chapter.
Brock Weir is a federally funded Local Journalism Initiative reporter at The Auroran